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Biagio Tasting – DC Event Review

February 8, 2010

I’ve been meaning to review this event since I attended it with Victoria over a week and a half ago, but what with work being insane and snow insanity elsewhere, I haven’t had the chance!

Before I dive in to the goods, because I’m sure you’re wondering what these are:

Can you tell what these are?

let me tell you a bit about how this event came to be.

You know that little voice in your head, the one that says “Jeez, Lisa. You live in the nation’s capital. Surely you should get out and go to a scavenger hunt in a Smithsonian museum…” or “Jeez, Lisa. You live in a beautiful city with a thriving foodie culture…shouldn’t you get up and get out and see some of it?” or “Who says you have to be Latina to go to a DC Latino Professionals event?”

Well, my little voice is named Victoria. Victoria’s the best – she’s always looking for fun and exciting things to do, and she’s most definitely the cause of fun and exciting things to do in other people. So when she invited me to a DC Meetup event for Latino Professionals, I never gave it a second thought. Well…maybe I asked her once if it would be awkward that my fairly blond, blue-eyed, be-freckled self was clearly not an OUNCE Latina, but that was it (Victoria’s Latina herself, so I knew we’d at least have enough credibility to get through the door).

So what was this marvelous event, you ask? Why, a chocolate tasting of Latin American cacao products at Biagio Fine Chocolate! (Delicious chocolate pictures after the jump)

Our chocolate tasting was lead by Biagio himself, the co-owner of the shop.

Biagio Abbatiello

Sorry for the weird fuzzy hand, but I was trying not to interrupt his flow with the flash.  Biagio is a remarkably interesting man, who started his career in the air travel industry. Through his travels for work, he developed a love for truly good chocolate, which is where the idea for this shop was born.

A note here on definitions, because this was a central theme for this tasting event. First of all, you’ll notice that the Biagio shop is not labeled “Biagio Fine ChocolateS.” It’s “Biagio Fine ChocolatE.” This is intentional, because Biagio and his team specialize in the import and retail of fine chocolate, not silly truffles (though they do carry a few – more on those later) or confections.

These people sell tasting chocolate, people, solid bars of delicious goodness, intended to be savored and experienced like a fine aged wine. Biagio has come up with a fantastic model for his tastings, beginning with the history of chocolate (back to the Mayans!) and finishing through with the proper steps for tasting and progressing through a plate of chocolate. I won’t give away all of the tricks to his trade, since you need to go see for yourself!, but I will send you this direction to take a look at some of his suggestions for enjoying very high-end chocolate (that can sometime retail for $10 for a 4 oz. bar!).

Enough jibber-jabber, on to the chocolate! All of the chocolate sold in Biagio’s shop is single origin. Unlike your standard Hershey bar, this means that the beans for each bar of chocolate are sourced from one location. In many cases, from one plantation. That gives the chocolate a very unique flavor, and maintains a very strong link between individual farmers and chocolatiers. The chocolate we tasted was all sourced from Latin American beans, though the bars themselves were mostly made in Europe and a few places in the U.S.

Figure out what those funny nut things were yet? They’re cacao pods!

Cacao!

Biagio took us through the process, as he calls it, from “bean to bar,” and then? The tasting!

Shiny yummy deliciousness.

We tried 11 different chocolates, but don’t worry. I won’t make you look at all of them. You’d probably faint from chocolate desire. But I will tell you about them – they were all dark, they were all fancy, and they were all to die for. And I’m not even that big a fan of dark chocolate!

Cute

Tasting mat

Did you know that chocolate (good quality dark chocolate, that is) has appetite curbing effects? Well, it’s totally true – we started this tasting at 7, and when we looked up at 10:30pm, we hadn’t even noticed that we’d missed dinner! Part of that is because we ate so much chocolate, but still.

Anyways – the tasting itself was fascinating, listening to Biagio tell stories of visits to cacao plantations, and explaining how people like Michel Cluizel actually travel to their plantations to visually inspect the beans before making their chocolates (and I highly recommend the Michel Cluizel Los Anconès bar – it was my favorite). There were about 15 of us there for the tasting, and it was a really nice number. We all had a chance to interact with Biagio, and there was plenty of tabletalk (and trashtalk, from the milk chocolate lovers).

After we’d eaten our way through 11 bits of delicious, Biagio opened up his little shop, so we could shop for gifts and see the other offerings. Since our tasting was targeted toward Latin American single-origin chocolate, it was really interesting to see what else he had to offer. Including this guy, which I bought for Melissa:

Bacon barrrr.

And one major part of his shop he left out of the tasting?!

Biagio supports local artists and chocolatiers – through a beautiful case of locally made truffles and other chocolateS (not chocolate – chocolateS). Ready for your mind to be blown?

Each confection was more gorgeous than the last – these people are so creative! Most of these were done by Artisan Confections (remember them from Michel Patisserie’s macaron shop?), an Arlington-based shop. I’m so impressed – the designs are so creative! A quick note: they’re not individually painted, but rather screened (for those with designs on top)…but to me, that doesn’t really detract all that much. The basic design is still super-cool.

I’m pretty sure these are hand-dribbled though:

Wowza. I’m so impressed!

So anyways, I highly recommend you pop over to visit Biagio and his team, and sample some of their delicious, single-origin chocolate!

Biagio Fine Chocolate
1904 18th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009
Tel- 202.328.1506
e-mail: info@biagiochocolate.com

website: http://www.biagiochocolate.com/

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 8, 2010 6:21 pm

    wow, fancy chocolates! I should wait to go to something like that until I’m not pregnant anymore otherwise I’d probably make myself sick tasting every single flavor. Thanks for sharing!

  2. February 9, 2010 10:19 pm

    thanks for the great review, friend! – of the chocolate tasting and of me! haha… I feel like a mini celeb. 🙂

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