As we announced in our previous post, we were involved in a chocolate symposium at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian this past Saturday called “Chocolate: From Mayan Worship to Modern Wonder.”
It was an incredible event. It started off with some great talks on the history of chocolate by Cameron McNeil, editor of Chocolate in Mesoamerica: A Cultural History of Cacao, and Marcy Norton, author of Sacred Gifts, Profane Pleasures: A History of Tobacco and Chocolate in the Atlantic World. Between the two talks, we sampled a recreation of a Mayan drinking chocolate from Kakawa Chocolate House. It was very interesting–very hot & very spicy.
After a lunch featuring Mesoamerican dishes created with cacao and chocolate, and a cooking demonstration of two other dishes, it was time for the tasting, organized and run by Mark Christian of the soon-to-be-launched chocolate info and review site, C-Spot.com and Biagio Abbatiello of Biagio Fine Chocolate in D.C. We sampled several bars including some from up-and-coming chocolate makers like ourselves and one from long-established maker Bonnat, as well as a whole cocoa bean coated in chocolate. Everything was made from beans grown in Mesoamerica, and ranged from white with nibs all the way up to our 82% cacao bar from Upala, Costa Rican beans.
In case you missed it in that last sentence, we presented an 82% cacao bar. If you’ve been following along with us here on the blog or on our Facebook Page, you probably know that we’ve really been focusing on a 70% bar. Mark requested something darker to wrap up the progression from white chocolate to very dark chocolate. Due to some outside situations, we weren’t able to really experiment, tweak and perfect the 82% bar before the tasting. So, we were a little nervous.
Before the tasting began, Mark pulled us aside and told us to lay low and listen to people’s comments. Since no one knew we were in the room, the feedback would hopefully be less encumbered by politeness than if people knew we were there.
Justin and I got more and more nervous as we tried each bar and the time for tasting our bar approached. When it was our turn, Mark introduced the bar and mentioned that it was still in development. After giving everyone a chance to try it he opened the floor for comments. Some of the discussion focused on the different flavors that people tasted and the texture of the bar. As far as whether people liked it or not, there were a few people who thought that it was just too dark and a couple who just didn’t care for it. As with anything as subjective as the taste of chocolate, this was to be expected.
However, the vast majority of comments were overwhelmingly positive. A couple people said that this was the first bar over 80% that they’ve ever liked or complimented various aspects of the bar. A few even commented that it was their favorite bar we had tasted. We were quite blown away at how much most people enjoyed our chocolate.
After discussing our bar for a little while, Mark said that he had a surprise and told everyone we were in the room. The room went nuts–pure pandemonium! Ok, maybe not pandemonium, but it was quite a moment. 🙂 He introduced us and gave us a few minutes to talk about our chocolate and our company, and to take a few questions from the attendees. We mentioned that other than some friends and family, they were the first ones to ever try Potomac Chocolate Co.’s chocolate.
We tasted one more chocolate creation and then it was over. Afterwards, we hung out for a while and talked with a bunch of people who were interested in what we’re doing.
All in all, it was an incredible experience and a great way to debut our chocolate to the world. We really couldn’t be more pleased with the reception our chocolate received and the feedback we received. We are extremely grateful to those who organized it and invited us, and are really happy that we were able to be a part of it.