If you’ve read my reviews, you know how I feel about what I’ve tasted. It’s not good. Musty, metallic and just plain “off” flavor has meant tossing most of the bars I’ve tried after one bite or so.
Until now, when I tried my farmer’s market find: Castronovo Chocolate, Florida’s first bean-to-bar chocolatier. Their products are organic, single-origin, come in a range of cacao contents and they taste like chocolate you want to keep eating.
Chocolate maker Denise Castronovo used to work in the geographic information technology business, but she’s always been an artist, primarily working in pottery. When the geotech business slowed down, she turned to another hands-on art form: chocolate. She and her husband Jim, the man behind the counter at the farmer’s market, have been dedicating themselves to finding the best beans from Central and South America, roasting them, winnowing them, conching and tempering the ingredients (cocoa beans, cane juice rather than sugar and cocoa butter) until they end up with 1.25-ounce squares.
Are we talking about an organic chocolate that finally makes the premium grade? Indeed, we are. I’ve tried two of the three bars I purchased, the 70% Bolivia Trinitario Cacao and 70% Dominican Republic Trinitario Cacao. The Dominican had good shine and snap, and the citrus flavor was distinctive, yet light. I immediately thought of grapefruit when I tasted it, but it’s gently applied, not slathered on. The Bolivian also shines and snaps, and tastes like a thick, rich cup of chocolate with a layer of coffee on the bottom; a mix of dessert and beverage.Since I taste early in the morning, common sense prevented me from finishing either bar. Desire made me want to consume them as breakfast.
Jim and Denise have some additional suggestions in the form of adult beverages to enhance the chocolate experience. They recommend either coffee or a Cabernet Sauvignon for the Bolivian, dark rum for the Dominican and gin or a Shiraz (Syrah) for the 71% Criollo Cacao Peru, which is my third bar, and the one I have yet to taste. Rest assured, I am looking forward to it.
At the moment, you can contact Denise and Jim through their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/CastronovoChocolate) or if you come to South Florida on vacation, at either the Palm Beach Gardens greenmarket (http://www.pbgfl.com/content/76/144/default.aspx) or Fort Pierce greenmarket (http://www.fortpiercefarmersmarket.com/). A store is in the works, set to open May 1, at 555 Colorado Avenue, Stuart, FL. In the pursuit of high-quality chocolate, a store by the locals, for the locals (any anyone else who wants to visit or order) cannot come soon enough.