Panos’ Perspective on Claudio’s Cacao
Today, I am joined by special guest writer, Palwasha Khatri.
On July 7, 2012, Palwasha and I visited Alegio’s Chocolate in Berkeley. The owner, Panos Panagos (which is the most adorable name ever!), tried to guess our majors but failed horribly. Then, we guessed his in one try.
Panos took us on a virtual tour of the history of chocolate. He told us that the cacao beans in his chocolate were straight from Sao Tome and Principe in West Africa. Panos’ business partner, Claudio Corallo, currently works in the tropical islands of Sao Tome and Principe with his family. After introducing us to Claudio’s unique chocolate, Panos gave us a cacao bean to sample. It wasn’t as great as expected.
Then, came the chocolate tasting. These are all the chocolates we tried:
- 100% cacao
- 80% cacao
- 80% with crystallized sugar
- 75% cacao
- 75% with orange
- 75% with salt and pepper
- 75% with aged grapes
- 75% with espresso
- 100% ginger balls (Steve Jobs’ favorite)
There was another couple who tasted chocolate that day with us. Their favorite was the ginger balls. We didn’t like it as much as they did. Some people like a lot of ginger; we don’t. Palwasha’s favorite was the espresso chocolate and Regina’s favorite was the orange chocolate. Panos told us to visit soon and we said we would. It was sad leaving him because he was so adorable and friendly.
The most interesting thing we learned from this experience though was that major chocolate companies use mostly vanilla and very little cacao, which is why Panos thinks his chocolate is authentic. Panos explained that society has gotten so used to tasting the vanilla in chocolate that people don’t realize what real chocolate is supposed to taste like. As a matter of fact, after our chocolate tasting, Panos gave us “regular” chocolate to compare to Alegio’s chocolate. We could definitely tell that there was a huge difference…not in a good way.
Panos has now ruined store-bought chocolate for us.