After the success of the last co-tasting with my wife, Genevieve, I decided to try this format again with a few organic chocolates from Theo’s 3400 Phinney Collection. It’s fun to bounce your impressions off someone else and always interesting to hear the flavors they perceived, but you missed. Genevieve amazed me again by catching some tastes that seemed almost obvious, but only after she called them out.
We tasted three bars from Theo’s 3400 Phinney collection named for the address where Theo’s chocolate factory sits in Seattle. The collection is made up of mostly innovative flavor combinations with a few more traditional bars thrown in like Coffee and Dark Chocolate. Of course, we veered right off the beaten path and went straight for these three: Bread and Chocolate, Thai Tea Milk Chocolate and Fig, Fennel and Almond in dark chocolate. All are USDA organic and Fair Trade™ Certified 2 oz bars.
Once again, rather that provide a rating, we have decide to each vote for our favorites within this bunch.
Theo 3400 Phinney – Chocolate Fig, Fennel and Almond.
Me: A warm mix that moves slightly in the direction of pastry. My fear that the fennel would be arid and astringent like the seeds you chew when you exit an Indian restaurant were unfounded. The fennel was strong enough to be a major note, but added just enough aromatic nuttiness. Still, I feel it was hard for the chocolate to come through and be fully appreciated with all the nutty noise going on.
Genevieve: This would be nice with black tea, or coffee or even over vanilla ice cream. Very interesting, but not my favorite of the bunch.
If you are a fan of nuts in chocolate, then you should try this one since it’s a welcome departure from the everyday, simple nuts-plus-chocolate theme.
Theo 3400 Phinney – Chai Tea Milk Chocolate
Me: Melts readily in your mouth leaving a mildly spiced blend of chai and chocolate that works perfectly. The chai lingers for a long, long time on the finish.
Genevieve: Pepper and cloves, vanilla, cinnamon. I drink chai tea every day, so I can’t help but love this combination. Well done.
Theo 3400 Phinney – Bread and Chocolate – 70% cacao
Me: Surprisingly crispy – crackling in the mouth. The crumbs of toast are extremely small so they are evenly spread out in the chocolate. You get some nice strong dark chocolate up front, then a buttery blend of toasted French bread and cocoa that fades into mostly buttery toast with the crunchy little bits lingering for a while. All in all, a very interesting taste experience.
Genevieve: The salt is stronger than expected. Taste a little yeast? It’s fun. Once again, this one calls for something to drink – maybe Café-au-lait would work well. We tried red wine (2007 Penfolds Koonunga Hill Cabernet-Shiraz blend) which worked pretty well. Light coffee or Café-au-lait would work best.
LAST BITE: We almost agreed on the ranking, but at least agreed on #3:
Me: #1 Bread and Chocolate #2 Chai Tea Milk Chocolate #3 Fig, Fennel and Almond.
Genevieve: #1 Chai Tea Milk Chocolate #2 Bread and Chocolate #3 Fig, Fennel and Almond.
We both felt the Fig, Fennel and Almond and the Bread and Chocolate have great potential to be paired with coffee, espresso or black tea. So, push aside the biscotti and pull out some organic chocolate from the 3400 Phinney collection and enjoy a change of pace.