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Home / Doug's Chocolate Republic  /   Review: San Churro Venezuelan Dark Couverture

San Churro Venezuelan Dark Couverture 
Posted: 15 September 2011    8.0 
San Churro Venezuelan Dark Couverture 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!   
Avg price/gram: USD 0.087   Cocoa %: 71  Size: 85g  Spanish chocolate 

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 begin with?

I was in this predicament when I reviewed the Spanish brand of Chocovic 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 purr? 

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?

Happy eating.

If you liked reading this, consider savoring these reviews:
 Whittakers Kiwi Fruit from New Zealand -- 33% cocoa solids
 Lindt Excellence Mint Intense from Switzerland -- 47% cocoa solids
 The Complete Chocolate Republic Index

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