/ Doug's Chocolate Republic /
Review: San Churro Venezuelan Dark Couverture
San Churro Venezuelan Dark
Posted: 15 September 2011
The first taste wasn't mind shattering. This is a 71% bar, and yet the bar didn't taste that rich. How could this bar be classically rich at 71% when it had 0% forastero in it? San Churro was taking me and the Republic to unchartered choco-tasting territory, and the more I ate, the more I realized I liked where this trip was heading!
price/gram: USD 0.087
Cocoa %: 71
Let me ask you a question.
You're watching a foreign movie that's gotten great reviews
in the press. The acting and plot have been
lauded, deep themes are supposed to be explored. As
you watch, you're falling asleep, bored out of your wits.
What's your first reaction? Do you feel guilty because
you felt you failed to grasp quality when it was presented
to you? Or do think the media bandwagon just jumped on
the hype and the movie was probably pretentious rubbish to
I was in this predicament
when I reviewed the Spanish brand of
chocolates almost a year ago. Chocovic was praised
into the heavens. Master pastry chefs use Chocovic's
blends. Choco hipsters swear by it. I panned the
three Aussie Dave sent me. Somehow, I just didn't 'get
it'. My main gripe was how expensive the bars were
without a commensurate burst of unique taste.
Well, I recently got a chance
to re-try Chocovic's works of supposed art when Aussie Dave
mailed me this San Churro Venezuelan Dark Couverture bar.
San Churro is a chain of chocolaterias started in
Melbourne, Australia that have since branched out around the
country, heralding Spanish flavors. I reviewed their Sinfully Smooth Milk, the biggest sin being
what San Churro charges to buy it. That milk was good, but
not great, and the prices charged were excruciating.
I had to get checked by a medical expert afterwards.
It's not exactly a best kept secret anymore that Chocovic makes all
of San Churro's bars. San Churro could have either
made the chocolate itself, requiring specialized choco-making
knowledge it likely doesn't have, or outsourced the bar's
manufacturer to nowhere else but Spain. It would've
looked tacky having a Spanish-themed chocolateria outsource
its chocolate manufacturer to Belgium, would it not?
The front sticker label proudly proclaims the bar is made in
Spain. And a number of Chocovic's bars are sold on all
San Churro branch premises.
I'm human, so I went into
this bar with preconceived biases. The
San Churro Sinfully
Milk Chocolate was nothing to write home (or write on
the Chocolate Republic) about. I was expecting more of the same.
The difference with this bar is that San Churro (via ghost
writer Chocovic) is making this one with rare Criollo cacao
beans. Over 90% of the world's cacao stock is
forastero beans. Less than 5% is the most expensive
criollo variety, found in Central American and northern
South America. The unique thing about this bar and
particularly for me as the reviewer is that this bar is
entirely comprised of the criollo beans. Other brands
will use the less expensive and more abundant forastero,
primarily from Africa, to form the rich classic cocoa
flavors, then add flourishes and accents with the criollo
and hybrid trinitario. San Churro fully commits to
criollo in this one, sourcing all the beans from Venezuela.
We are warned by San Churro
ahead of time that "this chocolate storms
the palate like a lion but ends up purring in your mouth
like a kitten. Deep earthy flavors are punctuated with
notes of sweet spice, smoky coffee, and red berries." Did
my palate get stormed? Did the eventual chocolate
The first taste wasn't mind
shattering. This is a 71% bar, and yet the bar didn't
taste that rich. I could, no joke, taste the sweet
spice, mostly cinnamon. I bit into another piece.
Yeah, okay. I'll grant a little smoke flavor, too.
My first impulse was to dock the bar for a lack of richness,
but that'd be like docking Yul Brynner acting points because
he was bald. Bald was Brynner's nature, and criollo is
this bar's. How could this bar be classically
rich at 71% when it had 0% forastero in it? San Churro
was taking me and the Republic to unchartered choco-tasting
territory, and the more I ate, the more I realized I liked
where this trip was heading!
You'll pay a relative fortune
to get your hands on this bar. But try to look on the
bright side. If you've bought this bar, you're
living in or have gotten yourself to Australia and are
overbilled every day for everything from Aussie-grown fruits
to an iced coffee to a AUD 44 zoo ticket to a decrepit hotel room charging over AUD
100. San Churro's chocolaterias aren't cheap either.
To buy this bar you had to go into a San Churro branch
first, and we're sure you probably sampled a churro or a
choco dessert and have been reamed on the price of that,
too. Once you've been beaten to a pulp with the sh--ty
value Australian economy, what's the marginal additional
harm getting raped on the price of this chocolate bar?