Nama. Since these gorgeous cocoa-dusted cubes of ganache first hit Philippine shores in mid-2008, die-hard chocoholics have been on the prowl for them, like hardened addicts seeking that powerful, mind-numbing, soul-shattering hit. On one hand, if you want to be “in”, you could always head over to either Kombini in Greenhills or the Royce stall over at Greenbelt V to get your fix. However, speaking as a serious chocoholic, nibbling on cubes of Royce just doesn’t do it for me – heck, I don’t even know why people are so willing to pay an arm and a leg for these cubes when they – on my palate, anyway; I don’t know about everyone else – leave a waxy aftertaste.
Go ahead and call me a non-conformist “food commie”, but my nama of choice will always be Sachi. And now that the new Sachi Black line of premium ganache truffle cubes is set to hit the city this December, there can be no turning back for me.
Sachi Black is being touted as the darker side of nama: darker chocolate, a dollop of strong wine or liqueur, a dusting of cocoa et laissez les bon temps rouler! (Fr.: “let the good times roll”) The resulting flavor combination is one that attacks the tongue in waves or layers. One’s first impression is the dusky bitterness of the cocoa that covers each square: a smoky taste that opens up the senses for the delights to come. Then comes the creamy richness of the ganache itself; a sultry unctuousness that wraps one’s tongue most languorously while teasing it with the rich flavor of chocolate tempered with rich cream.
Of course, if you’ve been eating nama for quite some time now, you’re going to tell me that everyone who’s eaten the stuff has had that experience. Okay, but here’s the clincher: unlike the original Sachi Gold line of nama, there’s no milk involved so there’s no mild nuttiness in these bad girls. And unlike other liqueur-filled nama, this one is chocolate through and through.
While there are actually five variants in the Black line, only four were currently available for tasting at the sessions held last Saturday, 14th November, at Heavenly Chocolates. “Choco-vangelist” Benjie Pedro was, of course, on hand to walk Sachi devotees through the new flavors.
The session opened up with the mildest of the four: Sake. This particular nama has a mild malty-ness, a somewhat nutty sweetness that calls to mind freshly pounded pinipig (crushed and dried young rice kernels). Because sake is more subtle than other Asian rice wines (basi from the Ilocos Region and the ceremonial tapuy of the Ifugaos – both robust libations – come to mind), the end result is a chocolate truffle with a pleasant delicateness to it that will be appreciated by those who tend to indulge in a genteel fashion.
Champagne was the next flavor to come tempt our tastebuds. Now, those of you who have had the champagne nama from the Sachi Gold line will recall that it has an ever-so-faint effervescence to it and a bright, fruity spin to the flavor. The champagne variant of the Black line, however, has a bolder, more pronounced fruitiness – like properly dried raisins just plucked off the vines after a day in the sun. It is warmer, but certainly effervescent. To compare this to the Gold champagne, would be like comparing a doux (sweet) Moet et Chandon with a dolci (sweet) Asti Spumante – both are perfect for celebrations, but the former is certainly more elegant than the latter.
It was the third sample that brought sharp differences of opinion among the participants. Not many people, you see, are familiar with yuzu - better known as Japanese citron and is similar in appearance to those sweet yellow-green oranges grown in Nueva Vizcaya. To describe its aroma and flavor is to say this: it has the bold aromatic nose of pomelo (suha / pink grapefruit) but with the slightly tart sweetness of dalandan (native citrus / orange). Now, while citrus with chocolate is a classic combination, I couldn’t help but think that the confectioners went a bit overboard with the Yuzu Vodka nama. The intensely citrusy aroma is what hits you as you pop one into your mouth. Then, after the initial duskiness of cocoa, what hits you isn’t chocolate but pure, overwhelming oranginess. While I do like chocolate-dipped orangettes and love orange chocolate almond ice cream, there was a bit too much citrus in this one for me. All due respect to the chocolatier de maison, but I think someone threw in either too much rind or juice into the infusion. Choc-orange fans may love this, but I think I’ll pass on this one.
Which brings us to the last sample on the menu: Port. Speaking as a die-hard fan of Sachi Rum nama, I love liqueur-infused chocolates so long as they aren’t so boozy but still have a bit of kick to them; that said, Port nama doesn’t disappoint. One bite of this robustly-flavored bonbon, and two things automatically pop to mind: the sweet but not cloying taste of Mompo or Vin Santo (the wine used for celebrating the Mass) and the richness of very good sherry. Like the fortified wine that gives it that distinctive flavor, this is one nama better appreciated by men rather than women. (Unless, of course, they’re women like me who actually prefer stronger flavors.) I can imagine gentlemen enjoying these with coffee after dinner in lieu of brandy; cigars, of course, are optional.
Along with a host of other festive confections, Sachi Black nama will be available at Heavenly Chocolates this December.
Heavenly Chocolates – Ground Floor – Roces Center, Roces Ave. near the corner of Tomas Morato, QC. Call 666-22-08 to inquire about their free monthly Chocolate Appreciation 101 workshops.