You’ve heard the term “meet me at the bar”? How would you like to do that? What? No, not that bar! Not that I wouldn’t buy you all a drink (if I could afford it!) but the “bar” I’m talking about is the chocolate bar!
Hot chocolate in a hot place?
My wife, Menchu, had told me a few times of a Filipino-style hot chocolate made with tablets of chocolate from cacao growers here in the Philippines. Called tsokolate, she told me it’s made with boiling water and some milk and sugar and by rolling a whisk back and forth between your hands for minutes at a time.
Now, I come from the land of the Swiss Miss hot chocolate packet which we thought was superior if it was made with hot milk instead of hot water. This tsokolate stuff sounded weird and difficult to make. (It’s actually really cool as you can see here: How To Make Tsokolate.)
Talking about tsokolate did spark my interest in chocolate made here in the Philippines, in Mindanao especially and in Davao particularly. Being a minor food nut and a major chocolate nut and a big fan of growing stuff, I began to really want to taste Philippine chocolate and see a “chocolate tree”.
First, a note about chocolate. According to a bunch of sources (including this article in The Atlantic), world-wide consumption of chocolate is around 70,000 metric tons! Also according to a bunch of sources, the world is running short in its production of the sweet dark treat. Can you imagine a world without chocolate? Or a world in which chocolate is so expensive that only the rich can afford it?
Chocolate in the wild
Luckily, I live in Davao and if you want to meet me at the bar, we can still meet at one of the best bars I’ve ever tasted: Malagos 65% Dark Chocolate.
I recently visited Malagos Garden Resort with some friends and fulfilled my dream of tasting the chocolate of the Philippines and seeing a “chocolate tree”!
This is a single pod, wrapped in a protective plastic bag. I thought that the increased humidity inside the bag might hurt the pod but I guess that’s not the case.
This is a shot of a bunch of cacao pods on the same tree.
Malagos Garden Resort is a really cool place that offers accommodations, meeting rooms and more resort-type things. It also has a bird sanctuary/show and a butterfly sanctuary among other attractions. If you’re ever in Davao, I recommend that you at least take a day tour there. It’s beautiful.
Meet me at the bar
This is what a bar of Malagos chocolate looks like. It’s a thin cardboard box with a 100-gram, foil-wrapped bar inside.
The foil is a nice color and I like the seal that holds the flap down. A nice touch.
This is what the chocolate bar looks like. And no, the rest of that little piece is mine. The big piece is too!!
This chocolate shares a lot of the same tastes you’d find in many other high-quality commercial chocolate bars. It’s slightly bitter and full of that deep cacao flavor and aroma but there’s something else to it that I’ve never tasted before. The first time I had it, purchased from the headquarters here in Agdao District a month ago, I had five pieces all at once and I thought I tasted blueberries while eating the last of it. Slowing down and really trying to taste for this entry, I no longer taste blueberries but there is a fruit undertone to the chocolate. It’s a very pleasant compliment to the slightly bitter cacao and the sweet edge of the cane sugar used.
I guess I’ll just have to keep tasting until I know for sure. You’d better hurry if you still plan to meet me at the bar. It’s going to be gone soon!
(Disclaimer: I have no business or personal connection to Malagos Farm or Malagos Garden Resort and received no compensation for this article.)