While at the fancy foods show back in January, I had the opportunity to meet some of the lovely folks at the San Diego based Chuao Chocolatier. They were launching a new product called ChocoPod and they wanted to know if I would be interested in trying some. Would I be interested? What kind of question is that!? Of course I would be interested! So fast forward a few months and a lovely little package arrived containing six Chocopods, one in each flavor: Passion, Modena, Picante, Candela, Banana, and Dulce de Leche.

The ChocoPod is an individually wrapped "bar" (I put bar in quotes because it's really more like a flattened chocolate bon-bon) that is shaped like a cacao pod. The chocolate is either 41% or 60% cacao and encompasses a small caramelized center.

Immediately we decided to ruin our lunch appetites and try a few of the flavors. First up was PartySugar's vice: Dulce de Leche. The Dulce de Leche was nice, but plain, sort of like a fancy thinner version of a Carmelo square. Next up was Banana which was also tasty, but not exactly memorable. It was a caramel center with a kiss of banana flavor. Next was the ridiculously delectable Picante (spicy cabernet caramel). OH MY (and yes, that did need all caps) this was tasty stuff. It was a nice cabernet flavored caramel with a lovely spicy bite that lingered in the back of your throat. It was definitely a winner. After those three, we took a little break, rested our palates (and let the spicy cabernet linger) and started back up after lunch. To read about the rest of them,

The first one we tried after lunch was the Candela (spicy macadamia praline), which had a nice and light crunch, however neither of us really tasted the spicy. The praline however, was finely crushed, and I really enjoyed the unexpected crunch. After the candela, we moved on to the Passion (passion fruit caramel). These were dark chocolate pods filled with a smooth passion fruit flavored caramel. The fruit paired nicely with the caramel, but was not overwhelming. Finally we tasted the Modena (strawberry & balsamic caramel), and once again: OH MY. The initial bite hits you with a sweet strawberry flavor, but the lingering hint of balsamic vinegar blends so well that you'll wonder why you haven't had this flavor combination before. Seriously worth tracking down and trying.

Overall, we really enjoyed the Chuao ChocoPods. Right now they're only available in 4 flavors (the semi-forgettable Banana & Dulce de Leche are not yet available) and unfortunately, you can only buy them in single-flavor packs of six (no sampler pack available for purchase). If you had to choose one to try I personally say hunt down the Picante, however PartySugar thinks you should hunt down the Modena - either way you can't go wrong. Oh and if you're wondering, each piece weighs 11g and is about 60 calories, not exactly good for you, but a nice bite that isn't too sinful.

And, just for the record, we're not one to fall victims to a bribe quite so easily. Sure we love free chocolate (who doesn't), but really these guys are worth tracking down. In fact, I went out the next night and bought a box to share with some pals. You should be able to find them at places like Whole Foods for $4.95 a box (6 pieces) or purchase them online.