Best Chocolate - 2009
Colin Gasko, you've ruined us. We thought we could enjoy other chocolate, but now it all tastes like sweet, brown wax compared to your robust Rogue chocolate bars. Gasko produces a small collection of single-origin chocolates, which means the cacao beans are sourced from one area and have a distinct flavor profile, much like the winemaking concept of terroir. Rogue's newest variety, the Venezuelan Rio Caribe, is extraordinary, with its dark, smoky notes of espresso and pecans and hints of citrus and tannins that jump-start the salivary glands. Who knew it was possible to get so many flavors out of something made with just four ingredients? The back story on these bars is just as amazing as their taste, as Rogue does full bean-to-bar production. In case you're unfamiliar with chocolate-making procedures, this amounts to borderline insanity, as the process of turning dry beans into luscious, silky chocolate involves so much specialized equipment that basically no one but multinational conglomerates like Hershey or M&M Mars seems to attempt it. And here we have Gasko, who is just barely past legal drinking age, building all his own machinery from recycled shop vacs, food-service tools, and dentistry equipment. The Rogue bars are pricey, but worth the bite, as each is made from cacao that was sourced, cleaned, roasted, winnowed, ground, refined, conched, tempered, molded, and packaged by Gasko himself. That's some sweet devotion.