Northern Ireland, a name inspiring thoughts of wild rocky coast, lush green pastures and grey, rainy skies. Yet it is also home to a bean-to-bar chocolate maker! Nearynógs.
Started in 2011 as a way to fun a charity trip to the slums of New Dehli – India, the company quickly expanded and started to focus on a way to set themselves apart in the chocolate world. Nearynógs pioneered in making chocolate without additives and has been upscaling it’s production due to the success of their products. Today, it is a thriving bean-to-bar chocolate maker with a fond love for Dominican Republic cocoa. Both plain bars and chocolate with inclusions are available on their web shop and in specialized shops – locally, nationally and internationally. Nearynógs can be found as far as New Zealand!
Nearynógs, a combination of the family name and Nóg – a Gaelic word meaning youth, was invented by grandpa Neary who used to write childrens stories. Today it is a proud ode to a family who puts their heart and soul into chocolate.
I was more than excited when I was contacted by them out of the blue with the question if I would be interested in some samples. It is a question which always brings a smile to my face. It is always an adventure when receiving chocolate bars you can’t find easily and allows my readers to discover more about the ever expanding fine chocolate world.
The Dominican Republic has always been a regions which brings warmth to mind. Chocolate from this region brings specific flavor notes and are very inviting. Let’s dig into the first bar from Nearynógs I ever had to privilege to taste.
The first impression was low key to say the least. A very simple looking cardboard envelop holds the Hispaniola bar. A label states the name of the maker – Nearynógs Stone Ground Chocolate. Ireland is mentioned proudly. Furthermore, the chocolate is Organic, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Vegan and Bean-to-bar. Exactly as real chocolate should be! On the back, some info on the process of chocolate making. Roasting, cracking, winnowing, grinding and conching. And then to my surprise – aging! Very few chocolate makers mention aging as part of the process, though it is important to the final flavor. Finally the tempering and moulding end the production steps.
Ingredients. Cocoa beans and unrefined sugar. Short and perfect!
The package looks ok, but there isn’t much of a wow factor involved. But then you open it. A 40 g square piece of chocolate sits in a thick paper wrapper. And what a beauty the piece is! I expected and evenly simple chocolate bar design. But instead it is an elegant, custom made piece. A delicate flower design runs over the surface of the square. This immediately makes it feel far more special. Shiny and with a nice thickness of about 5 to 6 mm, it awaits you to break of a piece. The aroma it releases is a wave of pure chocolate seduction.
Bean: Not mentioned
Origin: Dominican Republic
Maker: Nearynógs – Newry – Northern Ireland
Price: £ 5,5 – 40 g (web shop)
Color: A lighter brown with hints of red
Aroma: Dried tobacco, toasted bread
Taste: An imminent sweet start preludes a lush river of creamy chocolate notes with a touch of roasted bread. A very mellow, yellow dried fruit under currant – yellow raisins, dried yellow plum and apricot – flows underneath the main taste. Near the end of the melt more toasted bread, some subdued tannins and a touch of espresso bitterness. Roasted nuts, chocolate and toast remain present in the aftertaste, which has a mild intensity but keeps flowing pleasantly on the tongue for a long time.
The texture is remarkably smooth for a stone ground chocolate. No particles to be found at all. I expected a coarse feeling in the mouth, but how wrong I was. The molten chocolate is a tad thick in the mouth, but not overly clingy and in no way distracting.
The flavor is very pleasing and rich. There isn’t a wild ride offering new discoveries behind every corner, but a smooth and steady flow of a very harmonious deep chocolate flavors entwined with typical Dominican cocoa notes. The gentle fruits and toasted bread keep the flavor interesting. Close your eyes while savoring the bar and you are on a sunny white beach in the Caribbean, where a warm breeze cools your body as palm trees and the ocean rustle in the back. A place where you want to stay forever. Or it’s a cozy blanket that warms the heart on a grey and windy day. It’s comfort chocolate for sure. Seductive in nature and keeping you coming back for more until it is all gone before you even notice it.
Wonderful in my book! Northern Ireland has placed it’s stamp frimly on the chocolate map.