Welcome ladies and gentleman to the main event of the week! In the category of Culinary Boxing here at Chef’s Mandala, we have weighing in at 3 ounces from Trinidad and Tobago, please welcome Trinitario! His opponent, also weighing in at 3 ounces from Ecuador, please welcome Arriba!
LET’S GET READY TO RRRRR…….HAVE A SPIRITED DEBATE ON FOOD!!!
In the Red Corner – TRINITARIO CACAO
Our current champion Trinitario makes no attempt to hide his humble origins. The bastard love child of Criollo and Forestero cacao, this hybrid has both the high quality of the former and high yield of the latter. In the 1700’s a blight swept the island killing off many of the Criollo trees. Natives experimented with a Criollo hybrid that had the stronger disease resistance characteristic of Forestero but with better flavor. Named after the island of his birth, our champ prefers to go by his Latin nickname “Rex Theobroma Cacao” a.k.a. the King of Chocolate! Criollo tried to challenge the champ to this title, but was too feeble to pick his boxing gloves. Trinitario is by far more popular in use then the much more expensive and rare Criollo.
In the Blue Corner – ARRIBA CACAO
Also known as “Nacional”, this variety of cacao has grown in popularity among pastry chef fans over the last decade. However controversy has surrounded the challenger from day one. Some experts claim that Arriba is actually just another Forestero that is native to Ecuador. All the hype allows producers to charge above market prices for the same cacao. Chocolate makers however praise this evergreen tree fruit for its’ wonderful balance. It is both mild but still has a broad range of flavor. For over 5,000 years the natives of this region have harvested the Arriba strain of cacao.
- The Play-By-Play
Both fighters come out of their corners like freight trains. No quarter is asked, and none is given as a flurry of jabs, hooks and uppercuts are exchanged. It is like watching two human machine guns unload on each other at close range.
AND THE WINNER IS….
Arriba! The fight went the distance, but Arriba was ahead of Trinitario on points. The reality is that the quality of a beautiful chocolate bar will often be the result of blending different types of chocolate. Monovarietals have grown in popularity over the last decade, but there the quality of your harvest is held hostage each year by Mother Nature.