American, artisan, bean-bar chocolate makers Amano have a wonderful reputation and increasingly one can find their chocolate bars on sale in the UK, stocked by shops including Alexeeva & Jones.
The distinctly handsome black packaging, with its small discreet picture of a tropical scene evoking the far-away and exotic, sets the bar high for what’s within, suggesting that this is chocolate to be taken seriously. On offer within is Papuan New Guinean cacao, 70% minimum, roasted and stone ground by Amano themselves and turned into chocolate.
Inside, the bright gold, thick foil wrapping around the chocolate, in contrast to the sober external packaging, glitters appealingly, rustling satisfyingly as one opens it. There’s an immediate, rich, dark aroma of chocolate wafting up. The narrow bar, roughly 0.5cm thick, is divided into 15 neat rectangles, each bearing the name AMANO and the phrase ‘artisan chocolate’. The chocolate is a deep brown colour with a notable gloss to it. The bar’s thickness makes is a substantial bar to snap, but it breaks cleanly and well. It melts smoothly, slowly and evenly on the tongue, releasing a distinctive rounded, dark smoky flavour with lively blackcurrant notes. Afterwards, one is left with a slight, pleasant acid tingle to the tongue and a subtle, lingering aftertaste with vanilla notes. Eating this bar brings home how complex and delicious the world of cacao is, with so much nuanced flavour to be discovered and enjoyed.
VERDICT: A wonderfully sophisticated, dark chocolate bar, which takes you on a distinctive flavour journey. Definitely addictive!