I like to think of myself as something of a chocolate connoisseur. I was eating dark chocolate before it was trendy, I know the cacao percentage of my favorite bars, and I have never in my life uttered the words, "Man, I sure wish I had a Snickers right now." I learned years ago that, as with wine and television, I could be satisfied with a small amount of chocolate if the quality was excellent.
That doesn't mean I'm unwilling to try something different. About a year ago I saw Vosges chocolate bars in a specialty shop. The bars had unusual flavorings, not the standard cherries and hazelnuts. I bought a Red Fire Bar, dark chocolate flavored with cinnamon and two different chilies. The first bite didn't seem that special, but then I read the instructions on the package and tried again. (Yes, the package has instructions, similar to those for tasting fine wine. Use all your senses, hold the chocolate on your tongue to give the different tastes time to emerge, things like that.) The second time, the flavors surfaced and made for a surprisingly pleasurable chocolate experience.
I was still skittish, though, about trying one of the other varieties, Mo's Bacon Bar. I love bacon, but bacon and chocolate together? That sounded like one of those ideas where "just because you CAN do it, doesn't mean you SHOULD do it."
When the Piker Press staff began discussing the Valentine's Day issue over breakfast, I was reminded of Mo's Bacon Bar. Before I had finished my first cup of coffee, I had agreed to find and sample a bar.
One doesn't tread into such territory alone. I lured some friends along for the taste test using scientific sampling methods such as announcing, "Wanna try some chocolate and tell me what you think?"
When I snapped the bar into pieces, I immediately noticed the tiny shards of bacon throughout. With the first nibble, the salt taste popped out immediately. It was soon joined by the smoky sweetness, and eventually, the chewiness, of the bacon. The milk chocolate base was not cloyingly sweet, and even the dark chocolate purists found it a pleasing medium for the other flavors. Everyone agreed that Mo's Bacon Bar was "better than I expected it to be."
Emboldened, we decided to sample a couple of other varieties. Black Pearl is a dark chocolate bar flavored with ginger, wasabi, and black sesame seeds. It was a surprise hit with the tasters, who loved the way the flavors developed in different parts of the mouth. One tester cautioned, though, as she rubbed her cheek, "Don't eat wasabi if you have a canker sore."
Calindia includes cardamom, walnuts, and dried plums in dark chocolate. It was all right, but after the excitement of the Black Pearl bar, it seemed a little tame, more like a standard fruit and nut bar.
My highest compliment for Mo's Bacon Bar is that, the next morning when I was deciding what I should have for breakfast, there was a fleeting moment when I thought, "I DO still have some of that chocolate."