/ Doug's Chocolate Republic /
Review: Willie's Madagascan 71
Willie's Madagascan 71
Posted: 10 September 2011
Willie doesn't go into great depth exactly what you'll taste
here besides the "long forgotten flavors" and on the front
wrapper, mentioning "juicy notes of summer fruits." Willie
is the real deal. I really could taste hints of fruits in
each savory bite. Summer fruits? I wouldn't put money on the table that those hints were summer fruits like peach, plum, or melon.
Or tropical fruits like mango, lychee, or rambutan.
price/gram: USD 0.06
Cocoa %: 71
One July morning, I'm minding
my own business in the Chocolate Republic, and I received an
e-mal from someone I don't even know in Australia, Big Bad
Bryan. Big Bad Bryan wanted to know if I knew about
the revolution. The Chocolate Republic was not
even a year old and now there were anarchists about
demanding a revolution? Come on! Give me a
few years before you try to depose me. No, Big Bad
Bryan was talking about Willie's Chocolate Revolution.
Who's Willie? He's
Willie Harcourt-Cooze, born 1964, and he loves his
chocolate. He sold his flat in London and moved to
Venezuela with the proceeds to purchase a cacao plantation,
planting more than 50,000 criollo trees. Back in Devon, he
assembled chocolate-making equipment, ready to prove he
could be a bean-to-bar manufacturer who could compete with the best of 'em. The BBC profiled his
start up attempts in a 4-part fly-on-the-wall documentary series
Willie's Wonky Chocolate Factory
in 2008. Another TV show followed, Willie's
Perfect Chocolate Christmas. And then another,
the one about the revolution, Willie's Chocolate
Revolution: Raising The Bar.
I wish I could tell you I
watched some of these TV programs. I didn't. The
shows aired in Britain and Australia. I don't live in
either country and finding torrent files of Willie's TV
appearances aren't as simple as, say, downloading
Spiderman 3 or the year's hottest porn starlet's latest
release. I caught a few glimpses of him in short video
segments on his web site. From appearances and
descriptions by others, Willie is depicted as pleasantly
eccentric and driven towards high quality.
Okay, I've heard those words
before . . . by petty much any business trying to get me to
buy its products. I was so sick of the cliche called
quality, when I found it lacking most of the time, that I wrote
my very first
Doug's Republic article about it. I have sampled
so many "quality" chocolate bars on the Chocolate Republic
that the doctor warned me I may lose my taste buds.
Duc De Praslin's range
almost killed me.
Big Bad Bryan passed my name
and e-mail off to a shop in Australia willing to ship me
Willie's delectable cacao. But the Chocolate
Republic's greatest benefactor, Aussie Dave, was already on
the job, assembling a chocolate package that would bring
renewed vigor to the Republic after it started
feeling like Sweden. A parcel was already in the
making, consisting of two Willie's bars and two 180 gram
cylindrical cacao blocks.
A few days ago, the parcel
arrived. I reached for
this Madgascan 71 Sambirano Superior first. On the back wrapper,
Willie gives us the low down on this bar.
"Selected from the scenic island of Madagascar, these
beautiful beans are carefully roasted in Willie's chocolate
factory in England using antique 100-year-old chocolate
making machinery. The beans are then crafted into fine
dark chocolate -- made the way chocolate used to be (maximum
taste from minimum meddling). Madgascan 71 unleashes
long forgotten flavors."
If you've reviewed as many
bars as I have, you would have read similar sounding poetic
copy on the back of many another bar, and nearly all of the
cases, it's claptrap. With the Duc De Praslin line, I
was supposed to taste bouquets of dried fruit, wood, olive,
hints of hemp, opium, whatever.
Willie doesn't go into great
depth exactly what you'll taste here besides the "long
forgotten flavors" and on the front wrapper, mentioning
"juicy notes of summer fruits." I'm really glad he
didn't mention which fruits, because I'd approached this
taste experience ahead of time assuming Willie's was another
pretentious poseur, dropping a lot of fancy adjectives as he
produced chocolate that tasted just like one four-letter adjective
beginning with 's' and ending in 't.
I apologize. Willie is
the real deal. I really could taste hints of
fruits in each savory bite. Summer fruits? I
don't want to go that far. These were hints. I
wouldn't put money on the table that those hints were summer
fruits like peach, plum, or melon. Or tropical fruits
like mango, lychee, or rambutan. Let's just keep it
simple and say there were some sour fruity notes in there,
okay? As for long forgotten flavors, you can only
forget something you once remembered. Did
chocolate used to be made this way and the wholesome age-old
techniques were ditched, then forgotten, for assembly line
pump-it-and-dump-it chocolate? I won't comment.
Wille truly doesn't meddle.
Look at the ingredients on a conventional chocolate bar, and
you'll see things like vanillin or 'natural' flavoring.
I wish the manufacturers had long forgotten those flavors.
Willie's ingredient list is simple: cocoa mass, cocoa
butter, and Cuban raw cane sugar. When you're talking
about a revolution of any kind nowadays, you have to bring
Cuba into it some way.
Highly, highly recommended
and not too expensive given its quality,
all the right ingredients for a winner in this Republic.
It crosses the finish line higher rated than
also sourced from Madagascan beans, and more than 30%
cheaper per gram, too. Good luck finding it in your
neighborhood store though. For now, Willie's
revolution is limited to mail order.