Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Trying the new naughty

Sometimes it seems it’s the supposedly “naughty” things that make life most worth living. Whether food or drink or sex or whatever, it’s possible to indulge in a way that’s responsible, if only barely so. Making chocolate eating responsible, however, may be among the most difficult things to do.

On Monday, I talked about the new premier chocolate range from New Zealand company Whittaker’s called Destinations. They were released in New Zealand that day, but originally available at New World supermarkets. As luck would have it, I had a meeting near our old neighbourhood yesterday evening, and there’s a New World nearby, so…

Yesterday evening I bought one of each of the Destinations (photo above) and I tried them then and today. Here’s what I thought:

1. Destination Nicaragua: Nicaraguan Heirloom 76% Dark Chocolate. It’s made from “Nicaraguan Heirloom cocoa beans”, whatever that is. The company says it has “hints of tart, red berries”, and it does, even though there apparently aren’t any berries in it. Dark chocolate isn’t usually very sweet, and this isn’t, but perhaps it’s a bit sweeter than my normal favourite, Whittaker’s 72% Dark Ghana. I liked it. I’d rank it second of the lot.

2. Destination India: Indian Cardamom & Apricots. They say of it: “The exotic citrusy taste of Indian cardomom perfectly matched with Indian apricots in smooth 33% Creamy Milk chocolate.” Not sure what’s so “Indian” about this, but still. I didn’t taste the cardomom, but I did taste the apricot. It was okay, but I’d probably rank it fourth of these four. It reminded me a bit of a chocolate that was in the variety box of American chocolates we had at Christmas every year when I was a kid, the one with the map in the lid. I didn’t like it then, though I didn’t hate it. I feel exactly the same about this—I wouldn’t mind not having it again, but I didn’t hate it.

3. Destination Italy: Italian Piedmont Hazelnut. This is made with 33% cocoa milk chocolate, and hazelnut paste and roasted Piedmont hazelnut pieces. Similar to the Indian one, this doesn’t seem particularly “Italian”, but it’s quite nice. I’ve never had Nutella, so, I have no idea if there’s any similarity, but as a chocolate bar, it was really nice. Sweeter than I normally have, yes, but not sickly sweet. I rank this one third.

4. Destination Canada: Pecans Waffle & Canadian Maple. The package says it has “caramelised pecans”, while the website says it’s “pan roasted pecans coated in Canadian maple syrup and crunchy waffle” with 33% cocoa milk chocolate. I don’t normally like maple chocolate or ice cream, though I love maple syrup on pancakes and waffles. This was the one that actually made me want to try the range, when I heard someone in the TV ad talking about how it was like having a waffle… something, something, whatever, I love waffles (and made some from scratch just the other day). So, I had both high expectations and high worry about this one, and I really liked it. It’s sweet, yes, but not in an obnoxious way, and the maple just works, especially combined with the crunchiness and the mild, smooth chocolate. This one is my favourite.

This little taste-test is a bit of a surprise for me: I wasn’t a big fan of the Artisan range, as I said on Monday, most of which I thought were too sweet, and I also thought the ones I tried had too little to balance the sweetness. This Destinations range is completely different: They’re sweet, to varying degrees, but none of them obnoxiously so. I prefer them to the Artisan range, but some of the ordinary products taste better to me than some of the premium ranges. And, the premium ranges ARE more expensive than the ordinary ones.

I applaud Whittaker’s experimentation with different combinations, and it’s important to note that no one can please everyone. This means, first, that having a wide variety means that they’re almost certain to have a product that will appeal to everyone who likes chocolate. However, it also means that any particular person may disagree with my opinions about this range (or the rest of their product range, for that matter). That’s fine. To each their own, but getting chocolate does seem to be important to humans. George Orwell included chocolate rations in his dystopian novel 1984, allowing his authoritarian “Big Brother” regime to include chocolate rations.

Two things I need to add. First, I tried one last night, the rest over the course of the entire day today, not all at once—all things in moderation, right? Second, and maybe most important, as I say with nearly everything, like what you like and forget about everyone else. But, don’t be afraid to try new things, either. Sometimes you will be sweetly surprised.

Full Disclosure: I received no compensation of any kind for this post, and as I said in the post, I bought the products at a retail store using my own money.

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