I find it interesting that Sarah of sweetriot mentioned her company’s plan to start featuring up-and-coming artists on its packaging, as I have had this chocolate lined up in my review queue for quite some time.
Ithaca Fine Chocolates Dark Chocolate with Quinoa Crisp
Now, to prove that I don’t always jump down the throats of self-proclaimed ethical chocolate companies, Ithaca Fine Chocolates state on its packaging that “By enjoying this organic and fair trade certified Art Bar, you’ve invested not only in the visual arts but also in improved social conditions for cocoa producing communities and in agricultural practices that the environment can sustain”.
This blurb already contains a bit more detail than the afore-reviewed product (which I do recognise is doing its best, but which I still feel is short-changing its ethical consumers by trying to capture the calorie-conscious market at the same time). In addition, Ithaca explicitly states that it funds art education by donating to The Community School of Music and Arts and The International Child Art Foundation. It then gives the websites of these organisations as well as that of its own, so that we can learn more about its mission.
Okay, now I’ve established all that, I can get to the fun part – the review – without feeling like a crotchety old woman in a 22-year-old’s body. (Which, admittedly, I can be. In the sense that I cross-stitch.)
Above is the art insert found in my dark chocolate with quinoa crisp bar. Look, it’s not quite my kind of art, but I liked the Picasso quote found underneath (“Art washes away from the soul / The dust of everyday life”) and guess what? There was more information about Ithaca’s relationship with the art community on the packaging’s inside as well.
But now, really, the chocolate.
As you can see, the quinoa crisp (pronounced “keen-wah krisp”), which is puffed quinoa much like puffed rice, is located on the bottom of the chocolate. (Teehee. Bottom.) (Okay, a seven year old in a 22-year-old’s body.)
This is a very simple flavour concept, much like Chuao’s Caracas was with its combining plain nuts and dark chocolate. Yet unlike the Caracas bar, Ithaca’s quinoa chocolate avoids being boring and is instead consistently enjoyable. The chocolate has a richness of its own with some citrus, tobacco, and smoke notes, while the quinoa lends both a textural contrast and a delightful malt flavour.
It’s quite a resilient chocolate, in the sense that it takes a moment to melt on the tongue. This, combined with the puffed quinoa, makes it very tempting to chew up rather quickly. But really, why shouldn’t chocolate be gobbled up when the feeling strikes?
Whatever works, I say. And this bar, with its honey overtones, smoky underlay and quinoa crunchiness, works.