Discovering the myriad flavors of chocolates

Are you one of those who feel that you’re in seventh heaven after a bite of chocolate?

For chocolate connoisseurs, it is important to describe the sensation of the experience. The origin and the quality of the cacao beans are always essential.

That is why the Davao City Agriculturist Office (CAgRO) and the Davao City Cacao Council organized a chocolate appreciation workshop in time for the celebration of World Chocolate Day this month. Not only it offers the ultimate treat for chocolate lovers but also helps them discover the rich and tasty bits of their favorite chocolates.

I was lucky to be among the selected few from the Davao media, academe, and representatives from the city’s hospitality industry to experience tasty chocolate appreciation and tasting with Chef Jill Sandique at Seda Abreeza on July 9, 2023.

Sandique is a culinary educator and headed the board of judges at the 2021 Philippine Cacao Quality Awards (PCQA), which selected the winning entries to represent the Philippines at the Cocoa of Excellence (CoEx) Program during the Salon du Chocolat in October 2021.

I learned that chocolates shouldn’t just be eaten but hardcore chocoholics also have to expand their palates as well as work up their senses and emotions to really appreciate these heavenly treats.

Each of us was provided with 10 small cups of chocolate nibs each spread on a sheet with numbers. We were also provided with crackers and water to clean our palate after each taste.

We sniffed and tasted little nibbles, melted them in our mouth, and described their aroma, taste, texture, and mouthfeel.

We learned some terms for describing chocolate like rich, creamy, bitter, winey, crisp, greasy, grainy, acidic, flowery, crumbly, smooth, dull, fruity, and sweet.

A handout distributed to us identified the diverse tastes of chocolates and components: herbal and spicy, fruity, clear vegetal, and dark sweet. For herbal and spicy there’s dried leaves, Jasmin, cinnamon, citrus, and capsicum; fruity such as raspberry, melon, lychee, and cranberry; dark sweet such as coffee, mulberry, winey, dark sugar, molasses, raisin, and prune; and clear such as olive, woody, grassy, and coconut.

“We are lucky we have Chef Jill Sandique. The activity aims to emphasize the flavor and quality of the chocolates and to teach and educate Dabawenyos on how to appreciate and taste chocolate. Kining ginahimo nato sa Davao wherein we have a lot of cacao farmers are really geared toward finding flavored chocolates. We want to educate the media, and people from hotels that we have the best chocolate in the world and Davao has one of the genetics of Davao cacao, it’s just really a matter of educating people about the difference, na mao ni ang tinuod na chocolates,” said Rex Puentespina, Malagos chocolate maker.

The affair, should I say, is fun and memorable for us participants as it was a fantastic opportunity to learn new skill – the chocolate appreciation skill.

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