My mother, the lovely and unable-to-rest-on-her-laurels whisperinggums, has become spectacularly proficient at bringing me back gifts from her travels that invariably bring a smile to my face. Often, but not always, these gifts fall into one of two categories: earrings (which I feel naked without) and chocolate (like you didn’t see that coming).
On a recent work-related trip to Western Australia (did I mention that the lady retired some years back? And currently has about five jobs going at once? I meant it about the resting on her laurels thing), she brought me back a gift of each type. What can I say? I’m a lucky lass. Thanks Mum!
I can’t show you the earrings as they’re already at Smurf Kitchen (where I’ll properly be, finally, as of tomorrow), but I can show you the chocolate.
Carmel Valley Chocolates Dark Chocolate with Coffee Beans
I was really excited to discover this chocolate nestled in the blue tissue wrapping paper it came cloaked in. Sure, I’m always pleased to find (or be handed) a new chocolate, but what really thrilled me was seeing that Carmel Valley Chocolates is an Australian chocolate company. Hurrah for local chocolate! Yes, I realise that calling a chocolate produced on the other side of the country “local” doesn’t really conform to Locavore standards, but I’ll take what I can get, thank you very much.
Perusing the (somewhat perfunctory) Carmel Valley website, I was doubly pleased to see that the company’s chocolate bars are vegan, dairy free, egg free, wheat and gluten free, and made from non-GM ingredients. Oh, and this particular flavour is 47% organic, but I feel a bit like 47% is neither here nor there.
Okay. Well. Okay. I can’t put this moment off any longer. I wish I could tell you that I loved the taste of this chocolate as much as I loved the idea of it, but sadly this wasn’t the case. When I first took a bite, my initial reaction was that I hadn’t. Confused? So was I.
The flavour just… wasn’t there. All I got was sweetness, and a grainy texture, and maybe, maybe, a hint of cocoa powder. Friends, I felt what I like to call Sad Inside. However, I hitched up my big girl panties and went back for another taste, this time making sure to get a whole coffee bean in the bite.
Thankfully the coffee beans did bring some life to the party, crunching in the mouth in that delightfully crispy-splintering way that coffee beans have. The coffee beans weren’t acrid or burnt, but rather had a nicely rounded taste that even managed to eke out some cocoa flavours from the surrounding chocolate.
For all that this chocolate initially disappointed me, I ultimately came to accept its mild sweetness and coffee flavour. “Accept” isn’t really a ringing endorsement, I know, but at least the chocolate wasn’t unpleasant. I’m happy to have supported an Australian chocolate maker (or I’m happy that my mum did) and would, without a moment’s hesitation, buy more from Carmel Valley if I could. I’d love to try the fig chocolate bar and the spirulina balls, which are purportedly made from dried fruits, spirulina, and coconut.
Any chance you’re heading back west anytime soon, whisperinggums?