It was while wearing a Tiffany-blue hairnet in the Soho kitchens of Paul A Young’s chocolate empire that I discovered Bare Bones chocolate. Young, incredibly generously, told me about a new chocolate (which has nothing to do with him) that he had come across, and showed me a bar.
I went home and immediately ordered some. Bare Bones is a Glaswegian micro-batch, bean-to-bar chocolate company run by a design engineer and a chef/food photographer. Although, of course, the cocoa comes from elsewhere, everything else is done in Glasgow. The packaging is great but minimal and is all recycled or recyclable (the labels, for example, are made from recycled coffee cups).
But the chocolate? I ordered the collection of four mini 20g bars (£9). The first, a Guatemalan 65%, was one of those chocolates that I think of as quite busybody and showy-offy: lots going on and it was a bit too fruity, floral ‘look at me’ – practically tap dancing on the table. So, not to my taste. But then, as I worked my way through the other three (four is the sum total of the range so far), something began to happen. The 60% Honduras milk was true to its tasting notes of ‘fudgey and chocolate raisins’ – an epic dark milk. The 70% Madagascan said it would be fruity, so I was wary, but the fruit was muted and just added this incredible edge.
But then, the 68% Dominican Salt… Talk about a Ratatouille food-critic moment. This promised everything I usually dislike – salty, caramel flavours – but it all worked brilliantly. An astounding bar, it made me quite emotional.