Fia and I like to stop by the Natural Living Center in Bangor from time to time. They’ve got a great beer selection, plenty of ethnic foods that we can’t find anywhere else in town (including an amazing Asian aisle), a ton of bulk goods, and – of course – interesting snacks. Recently, we picked up a few to review (at least, that’s what we told ourselves as we piled them into our basket). One of those was Taza Mexicano Salted Almond Dark Chocolate.
As I mentioned in my review of Nature’s Place Hazelnut Spread, I’m an absolute sucker for a unique package. There are so many generic, glossy, paperboard boxes on shelves nowadays that anything unusual makes me straighten up and take notice. So, confession time: I bought this chocolate because A) it comes in round discs rather than rectangular bars, and B) it was wrapped in crinkly paper and sealed with a sticker.
We’re still working out a structure for our reviews, so this one will be a bit different than the last one. I’m thinking that some categories might make sense.
Price: A single package containing two small, segmented discs of chocolate retails for $4.50 – making this a premium-priced product. It’s probably not something you’d buy on a whim to scarf down during your lunch break.
Taste: This chocolate is salty/sweet, pleasantly dark (without being overly bitter or sour), and quite enjoyable. However, one thing I failed to taste at all was the almond. I didn’t even catch a hint of nuttiness. In fact, if the package hadn’t specifically mentioned the almond, I would have assumed it was plain old regular salted dark chocolate. Still, I liked the taste, and the salt brought a welcome complexity to the dark chocolate.
Texture: This is where Taza Mexicano really shines, in my opinion. The chocolate is stone-ground*, which gives it a rougher mouth-feel. The ground almonds, although not contributing any taste, break up the chocolate and prevent it from becoming dense – it melts and comes apart in your mouth the instant your teeth touch it.
Presentation: As I said earlier, the packaging for Taza Mexicano is quite nice. The folded, sealed paper gives you that hand-made, boutique feel without veering into low-budget or sloppiness. It also provides a nice “plate” to catch the crumbs and dust that fall from the chocolate as you eat it – remember, this is a crumbly chocolate. My only beef here is a small and pedantic one: the discs tend to get dusty and covered in little bits of broken chocolate. But in a way, that only adds to the charm.
Would I buy it again? Taza has a lot of varieties that I’d like to sample. But because of the prohibitively high price and small size, I probably won’t be trying any of them more than once. This was a good piece of chocolate, but it wasn’t exceptional – and certainly not worth nearly $5 after tax.
Rating: 3/5 Forks
*Fia’s note: I do have one thing to add to this, having read Ian’s comments and agreed on all counts. Taza makes their stone-ground chocolate in the traditional Mexican way, using authentic Oaxacan stone mills to grind their roasted cacao beans together with the sugar and other additives (spices, nuts, etc.) that make up their recipe. As a result, occasionally a few bits of shell (from the cacao beans or the almonds, I am not sure, because I don’t know much about cacao, honestly) will apparently sneak past their winnowing process, get ground into the chocolate and end up in your mouth, which is sort of unpleasant (though not traumatically so) and does make the otherwise unique and delightful texture a slightly less enjoyable experience, as I learned first-hand. It did not, however, detract from the experience enough to keep me from continuing to taste several more pieces, including the last one.