I don’t know about you, but there is a definite whimsy deficit in my life lately, though it was temporarily alleviated when I caught a glimpse of Potomac’s sweet wrappers. Each one is a different shade of green and sports a very simple fish design that looks like a woodcut. My curiosity was piqued. What was a fish doing on a chocolate bar? Naturally, I googled Upala, Costa Rica, where the beans are sourced, and came up with some interesting facts: Upala County is the gateway to Laguna Las Camelias Wildlife Refuge and the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge in the far northern region of Costa Rica. The city of Upala is situated on the banks of the Zapote River, not far from the entrance to Tenorio Volcano National Park. Now I see a connection. There are fish in the river.
Apparently, my musings were off base. According to Ben Rasmussen, the chocolatier, “When Potomac was just starting out, we wanted a logo that didn’t take itself too seriously and avoided the traditional symbols of chocolate like the cocoa bean or pod, dripping chocolate, etc., which were already being used by others. After coming up with the idea of a fish, we found that it actually has a history in chocolate: the Mayan glyph for cacao was a fish and more recently, chocolate fish called “Fritures de Pâques” are a part of celebrating Easter in France. So, I guess we ended up using a traditional symbol, after all.”
I tried three two ounce bars, each of which only has two ingredients: cocoa and sugar. Let’s start with the 82%, a snappily tempered little miracle of chocolate depth. 82% cacao is hard core, but this bar, divided into short sticks like Dagoba’s, isn’t just about intensity. It’s rich, creamy, and sweetened to a plumb line that balances ease of eating with every flavor note you would want in a bar this dark. There’s a little soil, a bit of tobacco, hints of leather, and all those rich, dried fruit flavors. The finish is both velvety and dry.
The remaining two are based on the same 70% cacao. The first one is plain, though that’s such a poor word to describe this bar, with its wonderful crisp texture that melts into a luscious creaminess. All the flavors blend beautifully offering up a densely satisfying chocolate with the same well-balanced qualities of the 82%, but milder. The second 70% bar has crunchy roasted nibs on the bottom, accentuating coffee notes and adding a robust textural contrast.
A trio of similar, yet different bars from an up and coming chocolatier in Woodbridge, Virginia.