Saturday, 27 August 2016

Craft chocolate and soda night

Tucked away upstairs at the start of what is known as the Hannahs Laneway is a tiny soda factory that is taking on the Wellington food world. Six Barrel Soda Co make sodas and soda syrups that you'll find in bars, cafes and restaurants all around the region. It has been a pleasure seeing their business grow and develop from its humble beginnings in Newtown four years ago.
Six Barrel Soda Co sodas
Not too far away is The Chocolate Bar, a boutique bean to bar chocolate maker. There are very few bean to bar chocolate factories in New Zealand (Whittaker's is one and Wellington Chocolate Factory is another). They sure do take their chocolate seriously.
The Chocolate Bar
Both these wonderful businesses came together to host a Wellington on a Plate event this week, the sold out Craft chocolate and soda night. Hosted by Luke from The Chocolate Bar and Tegan from Six Barrel Soda, we got to sample ten (10!) different chocolate and soda combinations. It was a great way to taste our way around the world of New Zealand made craft chocolate, discover some new soda flavours and learn more about the process of bean to bar chocolate making.

Each chocolate and soda 'course' was introduced with a description of the beans used, their origin and tasting notes.
The first of ten chocolate and soda combinations
Wellington Chocolate Factory Peru 70% with orange and dandelion soda
This chocolate promised hints of apricot and honey. It turns out we started with one of the best tasting sodas of the evening.

Ocho Samoa 70% with creaming soda
Who remembers creaming soda? Yummy! Not as thick (creamy) as I recall but still delicious. The chocolate was made by Ocho in Dunedin, who source all their beans from the Pacific Islands. It had a really pleasant nutty, caramel finish.

Ocho PNG 66% with hibiscus soda
Much like PNG origin coffee beans, I didn't like the bold up front flavours of this chocolate. Also, the hibiscus soda was too sweet for me.

Hogarth Craft Chocolate Akesson Estate with raspberry and lemon soda
Hogarth Craft Chocolate is a new chocolate maker based in Nelson. This 70% chocolate using beans from Madagascar had a lovely raisin and raspberry aftertaste. It went well with my long time favourite Six Barrel Soda flavour, raspberry and lemon.

Ocho Beekeeper with lime soda
I'm not much of a honey fan but this 70% bar with manuka honey, bee pollen and puffed amaranth was really good. It also went well with my favourite citrus flavour, lime.

Wellington Chocolate Factory Dominican Republic with ginger ale soda
This dark bar was rich and with undertones of burnt marmalade - or so we were told. I couldn't quite taste it for myself but knew that I really liked the chocolate. I was also reminded that I still don't like ginger ale.

Wellington Chocolate Factory Bougainville Bar with pinot noir soda
There's quite a story behind how these cacao beans were sourced from Bougainville. The chocolate tasted raisiny and was worth the journey. The pinot noir soda was a little bit different: non-alcoholic, for one thing. Given that I don't care for either the wine or this soda, it seems reasonable to assume that pinot noir grapes are not for me.

Hogarth Craft Chocolate Conocada with cola soda
This chocolate was made with the same Dominican Republic beans as two others we sampled but the flavour palette for each was quite different. I liked the hints of caramel and toffee. The cola soda tasted a million miles away from Coca-Cola but is still not a flavour I like.

White Rabbit Cacao Dominican Republic with sarsparilla soda
Another chocolate bar made with the same Dominican Republic beans by a boutique chocolate maker in Bannockburn, near Cromwell. I don't remember much about this chocolate apart from its smooth finish. The flavour was completely overpowered by the cough mixture soda.

Hogarth Craft Chocolate Gianduia with coffee soda
We'd saved the best for last. I loved this soft, creamy gianduia chocolate with 30% Nelson hazelnuts and 70% Venezuela cacao. As for the coffee soda ... I'll stick with the real thing.

A big thank you to Luke and Tegan for a delicious and enjoyable night of sampling. We also got to take home one of my favourite bars from the evening to savour later, Wellington Chocolate Factory's Dominican Republic 70% single origin.
Wellington Chocolate Factory bars to take home

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