Iceland. A country instantly reminding you of snow, volcanic activity and rough landscapes. A barren, yep magical place that makes people fall in love with it in a heartbeat. Yet hardly anyone would ever connect this island with single origin chocolate.
But the chocolate world knows. This legendary nordic island hosts a special bean-to-bar chocolate maker. Omnom!
It was founded by Kjartan Gislason and Óskar Þórðarson in 2013. Kjartan is a chef who traveled all around Europe for 20 years, before switching to making chocolate. As a culinary chef, he loves working with high quality products to obtain the best end result possible. As such, chocolate isn’t any different and offers the challenge he loves – how to make good chocolate. He teamed up with his childhood friend Óskar. Together they started making chocolate from scratch in Kjartan’s apartment. A tedious and time consuming adventure, but the feedback on their experiments was so positive, they eventually started their own chocolate company. Nowadays, they produce their products in a converted petrol station in Reykjavik. Still in love with a product that keeps changing and evolving.
I’m thrilled to finally be able to sample their products. When I was offered the product by Hilde Devolder in Ghent, I had the choice between different origins. Madagascar was the obvious one, as it is by far my preferred origin. Yet I choose the Nicaragua. On several occasions, Nicaraguan cocoa has surprised me with a wonderful range of flavor notes. So, Omnom’s version is on my table today.
From the moment you see the package, it is clear that Omnom is a Nordic company. The package is stylish and modern. Clear straight lines and angular drawings add to the typical minimalistic design of the icy region. A bright orange box displays alligators, while a small cardboard sleeve shows the Omnom wolf logo and the origin. Flip it over and the small sleeve shows the ingredients: cacao beans from Nicaragua, raw cane sugar and cocoa butter. Perfect.
In the box, a silver wrapper with the black Omnom logo all over it.
The bar itself is using a custom made design. It is scored using a similar play of lines and sharp angles. It creates a bar full of unequal pieces, yet looks stunning.
There is no further info on the genetics of the bean, nor more specifications on the region. This means we will taste without any prejudice. The flavor will need to talk to us all by itself.
Bean: Not mentioned
Maker: Omnom hf – Reykjavik
Price: sample – 60 g
Batch: 534 – best before 19 September 2019
Color: Deep dark brown, almost black
Aroma: Deep earthy notes, raw cocoa, surprising and different. There is a sweetness mingled with some leather, bread and lots of chocolate.
Taste: The chocolate starts sweet with the same surprising flavors as the aroma. Earthy notes take over, powerful and dark. There is a dash of liquorish in the flavor. Dark bread, freshly brewed coffee and lots of chocolate. The flavor of damp wood in a forest on a rainy day. Profound tannins mark the end of the melt. The sweetness of cane sugar battles the earhty flavors and releases dashes of nuts and toasted full grain bread while the chocolate itself melts. The sweetness breaks the very dark hart of the chocolate and brings dimension to the flavor. It isn’t a chocolate with clear high profile flavors. You need to take some time to really let it speak and make the flavors come out. At a first glance I almost thought it was lacking a bit of complexity. Because the earthy flavors are all closely related, you need some attention in order to discover them. The tannins at the end of the melt are quiet mouth drying and remind me of red wine.
The chocolate is intriguing to me. It brings some notes I have not found in other bars so far. It is perfect for people who love dark earthy flavors in chocolate. A taste which evolves on the palate. A chocolate challenging you to take the time to discover its full potential.
Somehow it feels closely related to the maker, as Kjartan and Óskar state on their website: “Just like wine, beer, cheese or kimchi, chocolate is the labour of a lot of patience, from growing the cacao pods until the bar is safely melting in your mouth. In the past years since starting making chocolate, we have been crafting our skill in making the best chocolate as possible. Patience is what you need to be able have until the final product is ready”
Patience is what is needed with this chocolate. Don’t expect it to be simple and straightforward. It is complex, rich and well worth slowly savoring it!