Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Hunting the Wild Ophelia

Currently grazing in 48 states. (Sorry, Dakotas!)
Katrina Markoff's Vosges has a new little sister by the name of Wild Ophelia and, as with any family, sibling comparison is inevitable. In both brands, chocolate is the star with each bar's namesake ingredient merely providing an atmosphere to the chocolate's overall flavor, never stealing the spotlight. Where Wild Ophelia most distinguishes herself is this: while Vosges invites taste buds to "travel the world through chocolate," Wild Ophelia leads palates in domestic travel through its use of distinctly American flavors. Here's a bar-by-bar review of the Wild Ophelia product line, in order of my favorite to least favorite:

Sweet Cherry Pecan (41% cacao)
This soft milk chocolate melts quick and easy on the tongue, reminding me of European milk chocolate. What it leaves behind--a chewy fruit and a hint of salt and nut--are a fine reward to an already satisfying bar.

Southern Hibiscus Peach (41% cacao)
The best part of eating this bar is when the hibiscus kicks after the chocolate has melted away, creating sparkly crackles of tartness to round off each bite. If this bar lived up to its packaging's bold claim that "each bite is purely peach," it would be a chunky success surpassing many chocolate bars, but chunky chocolate bars are not Katrina Markoff's style. As is, it still a unique delight.

Salted Chowchilla Almond (41% Cacao)
The salt is no subtle presence, but it successfully cuts the sweetness of the chocolate to a level where I kept craving more, bite after bite. Never the champion of salted chocolate, this bar could make a convert out of me. The bits of nut add a nice texture, similar to what one gets with brittle or Almond Roca. Though the concept may not seem fancy or overtly gourmet, this is simply a delicious chocolate bar.

Beef Jerky (44% cacao)
While beef jerky works better in milk chocolate than bacon does in Vosges' Mo's Bacon Bar (a treat best enjoyed in its dark chocolate variety), I was hoping the Wild Ophelia bar would have a smoky flavor or something else to distinguish itself from it's better-known cousin. In truth, it pretty similar except for a few chewy bites.

Get thee to a rodeo, er, nunnery!
Mount Sequoia Granola (70% cacao)
The granola featured in this bar is made by Milk & Honey, a Chicago company whose product has me loving breakfast again and swearing off cereal. Whether the almonds and dried cherries in their Original Cafe Mix, the peanuts and cacao nibs in the Rick Bayliss Mexican Mix, or the husky flavor of their Pumpkin Spice mix, their granola offers tons of flavor...which is why I was disappointed by how completely overwhelming the dark chocolate was in this bar. The granola seemed to only offer textural diversity and in no way affect the flavor.

Smokehouse BBQ Potato Chips (70% cacao)
Anyone familiar with Vosges' 70% chocolate won't find much of anything different in this bar. The dark chocolate is the only thing one tastes. The only hint of potato chip is the texture (which isn't even half as crunchy or satisfying as a chocolate covered potato chip) and the only hint of barbecue is when a bit of potato chip gets stuck in one's teeth to be found later. Coming from a Katrina Markoff, who so often uses salt in her chocolate, it is a wonder that a flavor showcasing potato chips doesn't taste the least bit salty.

New Orleans Chili (70% cacao) 
An earthy, yet sweet bar with cayenne pepper that goes straight for the back of the throat, creating instant heat. Sadly, the chili doesn't affect the flavor. I'm not sure that the bar offers anything new except for how long the after burn lingers.

Also available is Peanut Butter & Banana (41% Cacao), which due to the presence of the untouchable fruit shall remain untasted.

1 comment:

Brad @ IceCreamUScream said...

Thanks to Wild Ophelia who read this after it was posted and sent me my four favorite bars to say thanks!