Since I wasn’t able to make it to this year’s D.C. Chocolate Festival, some of my coworkers attended in my place. They sent me pictures and told me what events they attended. It was awesome hearing and seeing their excitement over trying new chocolates, hearing about chocolate makers they weren’t familiar with, and sharing all of the new information they learned about chocolate. I firmly believe in sharing my chocolate with others to share the joy and love for chocolate. In turn, it helps broaden the world of chocolate for others and… they are likely to share their chocolate with you, as my coworkers did with me after the Festival 😉
Through the pictures my coworkers took while at the Festival and when I later saw their haul in person, I noticed one name that kept showing up: La Naya. Apparently they were crazy popular! Practically everyone who sent me pictures of what bars they took home with them included one or two La Naya bars. When I asked them what they thought was special about La Naya, the main response was that La Naya is from Lithuania.
This blog post is sponsored by La Naya since they kindly mailed me some bars to try since they are not currently selling their products near my location, but they are working on being able to sell their bars at The Chocolate House! If you are interested in trying La Naya and you haven’t seen their bars at any stores near you, they can also be ordered off of www.lithuanianpride.com.
Many thanks to Asta Plankiene who represents Rotarum (an American distributor of Lithuanian foods) and Jovita Slapšinskaitė from La Naya who provided these bars! Thank you to Jovita for taking time to answer some questions so we could learn more about La Naya as well! Every time Jovita responded to my emails, she always started with a cheerful, “Greetings from sunny Vilnius :)”
I think it’s very unique and new that La Naya focuses on using chocolate to connect to our emotions. What inspired the founders of La Naya to use this as their focus for their chocolate?
“We are small company based in Lithuania. Common dreams connect people. This is why we gathered together and every day we do our best to produce highest quality bean to bar chocolate. We are really happy to share our passion with all chocolate lovers all around. Appreciation of chocolate lovers is the most powerful motive to keep on improving.
“While other chocolatiers work their way from bean to bars, we go one step further. At La Naya, our production processes are all about purifying emotions and expressing them through outstanding chocolate.”
What inspired the mountain shape for the mold of the La Naya bars?
“Unique, exceptional design of La Naya bars is portraying the mountains and valleys of La Naya village, full of unexpected tastes and aromas. Really long ago this village was in Guatemala.”
Where does La Naya source their cacao and why?
“We source cocoa beans from Panama, Vietnam, Tanzania, Costa Rica and other locations.”
Where does La Naya get inspiration for the flavors used in the bars, such as using strawberries with chili and cinnamon? I have not seen berries mixed with hot spices before, which is unique and I’m excited to try sometime.
“We do our best to create unique and unforgettable taste. If you could taste our single origin Vietnam bars (we have 2 at the moment) you could see how we can make different taste profile by using same cacao beans with no inclusions. It is really magic.”
For tasting these bars, I wanted to make sure some of my coworkers were able to join me in sharing the experience. Some of my coworkers had a free moment to find a quiet room to sample the bars. One of them likes to make loud happy sounds (“MMMM!”) whenever he eats something he likes, which is not only amusing for the rest of us, but also tells us that he’s really enjoying what he’s eating. If I ever start a YouTube channel, I want to make a video with him reviewing chocolate so you could hear when he’s enjoying chocolate 🙂 The others were very new to tasting chocolate, and it was very helpful to receive their feedback.
In a pamphlet that La Naya sent with the bars, it shows at the end that all five of the bars sit together and form one big picture. I neglected to look through the pamphlet ahead of time, so it was actually one of my coworkers who pointed this out. After some rearranging, and though I normally taste from dark chocolate to milk or white chocolate, we decided to taste the bars in the order that they formed the picture. We also noticed a correlation between each of the individual bars and the portion of the picture it held:
Pistachio + Cocoa Nibs had a pistachio tree on it.
Honey + Bread Crumbs held a picture of a field of wheat and possibly bee hives.
Orange + Juniper depicted an orange tree.
Raspberries + Pineapple showed a field of raspberries being picked.
Strawberries + Cinnamon + Chili showed a woman holding a basket full of strawberries, chilies and cinnamon sticks.
I really like the creativity of the packaging!
Before I summarize my coworkers’ thoughts on all 5 of the bars since tasting with a group is fun though chaotic at times, I’m going to go over my personal thoughts.
Pistachio + Cocoa Nibs
The pamphlet that came with the chocolate described this particular bar as the “Peninsula of Egoism,” saying that we must “stubborn and brave,” and that the bar is “infused with the emotion of pure self-love.” Other descriptors (otherwise called “emotional structure”) for this bar were “satisfaction, queen’s laughter, trip to the centre of the universe.” Very creative ways to describe how this bar will make you feel and not just taste!
This bar had a strong nutty and creamy scent. It’s a sweet and savory scent that is absolutely delicious! I might want to keep the wrapper at my desk to sniff when I’m feeling stressed out. My mouth was filled with nutty and creamy flavors. There seemed to be a caramel-like sweetness to the chocolate as well. The cocoa nibs gave a nice crunchy texture while the chocolate quickly melted away. I could literally eat the rest of this bar on my own. I might just do that.
Honey + Bread Crumbs
The pamphlet labels the experience of this bar as “Making Out With Nostalgia.” La Naya’s description of nostalgia is as a lady with no face, who’s always nearby, but when you eat this bar you will “feel her breath again.” Other descriptors include “soft wind, days gone by.”
I could detect the scent of honey and dried bread from this bar. With the inclusion side on my tongue, I tasted the dried honey and bread first followed by the sweetness and creaminess of milk chocolate. The bread crumbs also gave a pleasant crunchy texture. This reminds me of a good breakfast chocolate since it has a nice level of sweetness that balances out the dryness of the rye bread.
Orange + Juniper
This bar is described as “Ecstasy in Vatican,” and that true joy can’t be hidden while your heart is beating like the bells in Vatican. Other descriptors list “Easter morning in Vatican, sunlight, imminent victory.”
The scent of oranges smacks you in the face upon opening this bar. The flavor of orange is subtler than the scent as the creaminess of the milk chocolate and sharp juniper flavors help balance out the bright citrus. The texture of this bar was amazingly smooth! The juniper lingered longer in the aftertaste.
Raspberries + Pineapple
This bar is described as “Love At The End of Times.” The pamphlet says that though red means negative things, such as chaos and pain, red also symbolizes love and sunsets. “Love will be discovered at the end of times,” even after hardships. Other descriptions include “apocalypse, dead mountains, eternal flame.”
I was able to smell and taste raspberries and pineapple. The raspberry flavor might seem obvious at first, but then the tartness of pineapple pierces through. I was still able to taste the earthiness of dark chocolate underneath the bright fruity flavors. That earthiness remained in the aftertaste. The texture of this bar was also very smooth. I hadn’t tasted a mixture of berry with tropical fruits in chocolate before!
Strawberries + Cinnamon + Chili
Last but not least, we have what is described as the “Coast of Solitude.” It’s interesting that La Naya points out in their description that “a common feature of superficial people is the avoidance of solitude,” and that “a desert island may have more life in it than a crowded cruise ship.” They made this bar to represent perfect solitude saying that lonely moments should be freeing. Other descriptions include “the journey of a tiger, songs of angels.”
I could smell all three of the featured items for this bar. This bar took a little longer to melt and I first tasted the strawberries followed by cinnamon, and then the slow burn of chili. The chili was very subtle but grew in strength at the end of my bite. This was an interesting flavor story of all three flavors gradually introducing themselves to my taste buds.
Alright, now I’ll share what my coworkers thought. One coworker (the one that goes “MMMM!”) had the loudest, happiest sounds when he savored the Pistachio + Cocoa Nibs bar, and also liked Orange + Juniper. One coworker liked the Honey + Bread Crumbs bar the best, while another said they couldn’t taste the chocolate itself very well. A third coworker like the middle three bars the best, while a fourth coworker liked all of the bars.
I have to agree with the fourth coworker. I liked all of the bars because all of them were so unique even though they worked together to form one big picture (literally). The “emotional structure” for each bar was also very different, so it was like all of the bars combined made for a well rounded experience. I highly recommend reading the rest of the descriptions for these bars on La Naya’s website (the link is below when you click on their name) or if you purchase their bars, you can find these descriptions on the back of the packaging. I will be looking forward to when La Naya will be sold at The Chocolate House so I can experience their bars again!
La Naya: Made in Vilnius, Lithuania
These are my personal thoughts and experiences. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. All images are original and the property of Time To Eat Chocolate unless specifically stated otherwise.