According to research done in 2012, Canadians consume 6.4kg of chocolate per capita each year. We pale in comparison to Switzerland (11.9kg/capita) which shouldn’t surprise anyone, but it still puts us in the top 10 highest chocolate consuming countries in the world. So it makes sense that the quantity, and quality of Canadian chocolate producers has increased dramatically over the past few years. Enter Sirene, a company out of Victoria, BC. I will start by saying that this is some of the best chocolate I have tasted from anywhere, ever. Even from Switzerland. And I eat what some may consider to be an embarrassingly large quantity of chocolate. Sirene is that good. And that in and of itself is an understatement.
First, I love their concept; each “bar” actually comes with 2 different bars of the same cocoa percentage, allowing you to do a side-by-side taste test of cocoa beans of differing origins. I think this is so smart. Not only are you getting people to eat good chocolate, you’re encouraging them to actually taste and think about what they are putting in their mouth. Until you compare them simultaneously, most people would never take the time to consider how different chocolate from Ecuador tastes compared to chocolate from Madagascar. When they are being tasted in different sittings, it doesn’t allow you to see how distinct they are, but when you go back and forth between them, it’s obvious. This dual-bar concept is something I hope that more companies will start doing.
The bulk of Sirene’s cocoa beans are sourced from two countries: Ecuador and Madagascar. While the chocolate from Madagascar has notes of citrus and acidic raspberries, the chocolate from Ecuador fills your palate with nuts, specifically the taste of nut skins (think walnuts, hazelnuts, etc.) and dried fruits, like raisins. In comparison, the former is bright and fruity, while the latter is rich and fudgy. Both the 73% and 100% bars offer this Ecuador/Madagascar combination.
I was first introduced to dark milk chocolate at Rabot 1745 in London. Like it sounds, it’s dark chocolate to which milk solids have been added. Personally I find that it’s the perfect compromise between getting the creamy, melt-in-your-mouth characteristics of milk chocolate, while still enjoying chocolate that tastes like chocolate, and not just a whack of sugar. Sirene’s 65% dark milk showcases bars from both Madagascar and Guatemala. The Madagascar was intensely citrusy, same as the other percentages from there. The Guatemala on the other hand was like no chocolate I have ever tasted; it was nothing short of phenomenal. Both the aroma and flavour are strongly reminiscent of maple, not the syrup per se, but the sap. The pleasantly piney notes, mixed with the subtly of warm spices screams Christmas. Or “wow this is incredible!” One of the two. I should note that this dark milk bar recently one first place at the Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle.
So here’s my suggestion to you. Go hunt down a bar of Sirene chocolate, find someone to appreciate it with, and savour it. Start a dialogue. Talk about what you are smelling, what you are tasting. See that chocolate, just like food as a whole, is an experience. And heck, if I can get Canadian chocolate that is this good, why would I want to go to Switzerland anyways?
**I’d like to thank Sirene for graciously sending me samples of their chocolate to review here for you. You can find out where to buy Sirene chocolate in your area here.