Or in vogue, rather. En Vogue? Nah, not them.
On my most recent trip to the Old Port Candy Co. in Portland, Maine, I picked up a bar that I knew would balance the dullness of the two Coastline Confections bars that I reluctantly decided to try. What is this winner, you ask? Well, it could be none other than Vosges Haut-Chocolat’s Cherry Rooibos Bar, bien sûr!
A mix of 45% cacao content milk chocolate, Michigan cherries, and (African) rooibos tea, this bar promises to delight anyone who likes dried fruit in their chocolate. I am one of those people, and after the general disinterestedness of Coastline Confections (and me) in their uninspired chocolate, I was so ready to be delighted.
And sure enough, I was delighted. I would like to mention now that this was yet another Vosges bar that couldn’t remain unbroken before it reached my hands. When I last reviewed Vosges (Bapchi’s Caramel Toffee Bar), I mentioned this same thing. To quote me (world famous orator): “My only complaint is that despite being packaged in a box, I haven’t yet opened a single intact bar.” For this bar, it didn’t prove to be a problem, as there was nothing ooey or gooey that oozed on out of the innards. Still, it’s disappointing. Has anyone else found this to be a problem, or is it just me?
In preparation for tasting this bar (actually my second round of tasting it), I brewed up a cup of Teavana’s Rooibos Rose Garden tea, which was a gift from someone so many years ago that I should be embarrassed not only that I still have some, but that I continue to drink it. This should prove that the gift didn’t go unappreciated; rather, it may be the longest-utilized food-based gift product anyone has ever given. So sit back with a cuppa, and join me in tasting this bar.
When the packaging is opened, a pleasing aroma flows out to greet your chocolate-hungry nostrils (yikes). It smells like cherries. It smells like chocolate. It smells like cherries and chocolate. I was pleased.
Any tea present is not apparent in this first stage of meet and greet with the chocolate. To be fair, so that you know as much extra, relatively unimportant information as I know, the Rooibos tea (in this bar sourced from Argo Tea in Chicago) is an African shrub from the Cedarberg mountain region of South Africa. I’m quoting the chocolate box here. To speak in Latin, as I love to pretend to do, this species is Aspalathus linearis, and is caffeine free when dried for tea, which Vosges founder Katrina Markoff chooses to label as “bonus!” Hmm.
[Sip caffeine-less tea]
The chocolate itself is a bit dull, its sheen having worn off somewhere between Chicago, Portland, Bangor, my mouth, my chocolate drawer, my mouth again, and wherever it was in this chain of custody that it decided to shatter into many pieces. It does snap nicely though (if that matters to you and you chocolate-enjoying experiences).
Katrina is a big fan of telling her chocolate buyers to rub their thumbs on the surface of the chocolate to release its inner aromas. She mentions an “undercurrent” of vanilla, and toasted almonds. I should mention an undercurrent of seasonal allergies that are making it hard for me to sense such delicate matters. What I do find intriguing is that when I go through this process of warming up the chocolate with my thumb, some inevitably melts onto it. When I taste this chocolate, it tastes slightly darker in cocoa content than when I take a bite out of the bar.
[Slurp remaining rooibos tea, before switching to all-time favorite Tea Source Gold. Enjoy caffeinated nature of second cuppa.]
In tasting this bar, it is overwhelmingly cherry. Cherry taste. Dried cherry texture. Cherry aroma. Lingering cherryness.
Where is the rooibos?
Well, I think I catch glimpses of it with certain bites. Taste glimpses, that is. The intriguingly weird taste of rooibos may come across as an acidic undertone, and if I didn’t think this through I would suggest that this was merely the dried cherries. They are everywhere in this bar, even protruding out the underside. Making my way through the bar, I did have one strong flavor of rooibos after letting the chocolate dissolve fully, which seemed out of place when compared with the rest of the tasting experience. Finally, I can’t tell if the crunchy bits that threaten to dislodge my fillings (waaahh) are cherry bits or tea leaves. Since I only see cherry nibbinses when peering at the bar’s interior, I would guess that much of this crunch is cherry. But hopefully, the tea leaves are hiding out and steathily attacking my mouth in tandem.
Eating a Vosges bar is kind of a rollercoaster ride. Be it because there are so many incorporated flavors, or a poor distribution of those flavors, I’m not sure. I’m guessing it’s a mix of both, especially across batches. Look at The Food Buster‘s post on this bar: this reviewer found little to no aroma, and poorly distributed, lacklusterly-flavored cherries. That’s a drastically different bar. I think that across the internet’s many delightful chocolate blogs, folks have trouble coming to definite conclusions about which tastes shine through in particular Vosges bars. I think this is kind of cool. Perhaps I will review this bar again sometime and it will be a totally different experience.
Get in Vosges, everyone’s doing it:
Vosges Haut-Chocolat Corporate Offices
2211 N. Elston Ave., Suite 203
Chicago, IL 60614
And again, for your all candy needs:
Old Port Candy Co.
422 Fore St
Portland, ME 04101