Monday, December 28, 2009

Bar of the Week: Pralus Indonesie

The humid conditions in much of Southeast Asia can make drying cacao a challenge.  Unlike farmers in other areas, who can just spread their beans out and let the sun do the rest, those in Southeast Asia often have to resort to using drying fires to keep their cacao from rotting.  Overriding both bean type and terrior, this process can lend Asian beans an assertive smokiness for which they are almost notorious.  To quote

"Smoke and leather have long been considered undesirable flavors in chocolate, the consequences of 'artificial drying' (and subsequent smoke leaks) in some countries, Indonesia included. Aside from smoky flavor, this 'quick' drying yields additional flavors by trapping in the beans’ acids, thereby increasing the acidity of the finished chocolate."

While many manufacturers camoflage these flavor flaws by blending Southeast Asian beans into milk chocolate, the French chocolate maker Francois Pralus features a number of 75% bars from beans of Asian origin.  Our Bar of the Week is the Indonesie, made from dark-roasted criollo beans.  Rather than hide the smokiness of his cacao, Pralus capitalizes on it.  This silky-smooth bar has a rich, peaty flavor and the long finish of a good scotch. 

Chocolopolis will be closed for vacation January 1-8, 2010, after which we will change to our new winter hours.  Please join us for a sample of Pralus' Indonesie when we reopen at 11am on Saturday, January 9.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bar of the Week: Amedei Blond

We're celebrating the launch of Amedei's pretty new packaging by featuring the Tosacano Blond inclusion bar.  It's a smooth, bittersweet blend of 63% dark chocolate, studded with tiny pieces of sweet/tart dried apricots and peaches--like little flashes of sunshine on a cloudy day. 

Stop by and enjoy a sample of Amedei Blond with us on Saturday.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bar of the Week: Domori Ilblend

An exceptional blend bar from a company betterknown for single-origin chocolate, Domori's Ilblend is anything but middle-of-the-road.  Six types of premium beans combine for an exciting balance of carmelized undertones and bright notes of sour fruit. 

Join us on Saturday for a taste of Domori's Ilblend!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bar of the Week - Dole's Waialua Estate

70% Dark Chocolate
Origin:  Hawai'i

Calling all locavore chocophiles!  If you're looking for chocolate grown close to home, Waialua Estate is it.  Dole grows the pesticide-free beans on its estate in O'ahu and Guittard transforms them into artisan bars. 

While the packaging is, well, a little touristy (a hula girl?? really, Dole??), the chocolate inside is no mere novelty.  Each small box contains 5 smooth, creamy mini-bars that burst with bright, fruity notes of raspberry, cherry and raisin. 

Stop by on Saturday to enjoy a sample of a world-class chocolate that's grown and made in America!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Bar of the Week- Domori's Teyuna

Domori Teyuna/ 70% Dark Chocolate/ Single Origin Colombian Chocolate

This week Chocolopolis is featuring Domori's BRAND NEW Teyuna bar. The bar takes on the new Domori packaging (long gone are chocolate bar montages filled with plants, mammals, reptiles, and birds). The bar smells fabulous, and after you let it sit on your tongue you will notice bits of cashew and honey notes.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tainori Bar of the Week

Tainori / 64% Cacao / Dominican Republic

A new arrival to the store, the Tainori bar has become a staff favorite. We keep wanting more of this bar. It reveals gradual hints of yellow fruits followed by lingering nutty notes over a backdrop of cocoa and freshly-baked bread. Valrhona has completed a new packaging and bar design with uneven squares of chocolate scored on the bar. Valrhona chose to make uneven squares to allow you to eat smaller or larger amounts, depending upon your mood.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bar of the Week: Valrhona 2002 Vintage Chuao

65% Dark Chocolate

Origin:  Chuao, Venezuela

Bean Type:  Criollo

Vintage: 2002

Take our word for it:  this is a bar you DO NOT want to miss.  This week we are featuring our limited stock of Valrhona's 2002 Vintage Chuao.  These very special bars come from one of the final batches of Chuao chocolate ever produced by Valrhona (Amedei is currently the only chocolate maker with a claim on the beans). 

Valrhona has recieved copious praise from experts and connoisseurs for this vintage in particular. Temper is impecable, coloring is deep and rich, aroma is intoxicating, and the flavor is wonderfully fruity and herbal, perfectly balanced with earthiness.  Come and taste this blast from the past because it won't be around forever! 

***The Valrhona 2002 Chuao will be sold at the special sale price of $10.00/bar from 9/21/09 to 9/27/09!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A First-Hand Account of Cacao in Madagascar

I recently received an interesting e-mail that I thought many of you would enjoy reading. Tim McCollum, one of the co-founders of Madecasse chocolate, was in Madagascar at the time he and I were corresponding via e-mail. I asked him how the political situation was at the time, and he sent me a first-person account from Madagascar. Tim gave me permission to reprint this article. Enjoy!

August 10, 2009
Hi Lauren,

My trip to Madagascar was amazing. I lived there for two years and have been back to visit several times. Now I have the chocolate project there, and still, almost at every step, Madagascar reveals something new and interesting.

The cacao situation is complex in terms of the system of farmers, sous-collectors, collectors and exporters. I can state with certainty that we are the only chocolate company working directly with farmers.  This is especially interesting considering that every top-tier chocolate maker sources cocoa from Madagascar. I've learned that even Fair Trade is a layered process with different ‘collectors’ along the value chain.

I never thought my language skills from the Peace Corps would come in handy in life beyond the Peace Corps, but I spent 3 days with our cooperative of 18 farmers. None of them really speak French, so being able to work in their native language makes all the difference in the world. They hadn't seen a vazaha (foreigner) in their village since 2001, and when I started speaking their dialect of Malagasy they about fell over.

Madécasse is changing their lives. I couldn’t have said that with confidence before this trip, but being on the ground was, for me, the highlight of this project so far. Before Madécasse, they were forced to sell wet cocoa to sous-collectors who showed up at their village with tractors, who then sold to collectors, who then sold to exporters, who eventually sell to chocolate manufacturers in the EU and the US. Now that we've installed fermentation and drying units for them, and provide technical training, they can sell Madécasse fully fermented and dried cocoa at 3x the price of wet cocoa. 3x the price.

They live 50km on a dirt road southeast of Ambanja. Ambanja is the main town in the region and the sort of capital of the Sambirano valley. There is one internet connection in Ambanja. We need to load the cocoa on an ox-drawn cart for the first leg 10 km, where a tractor meets the farmers to take it into Ambanja. In the wet season, the road is impossible even for an ox, so we’ll need to send a boat 50K upriver.

The quality of the cocoa is getting even better as our training with the farmers (and my own knowledge) continues to expand. The last batch had about 30% of ‘superior’ cocoa, which is the Madagascar cocoa with the red fruit flavor. This next batch should be made with 100% superior cocoa. It should be one of the truly best chocolates in the world, but I’ve been drinking strong Koolaid for 3 weeks and don’t want to get too far ahead of myself.

We also set up our label printing in Madagascar. It’s the first time they’ve ever printed labels for the U.S. market and I think they look pretty good. Just another step in our mission to add 100% of value in Madagascar.

Needless to say, thank you for your support in making all of this possible.  Having taken a special interest and being able to tell the story to your customers completes the chain that we start in that village 50km outside of Ambanja, on the other side of the world.  We don’t want any charity in the market, but the social mission is a big part of what we do.

As for the political situation, it won’t be resolved anytime soon.  The good news is that if what happened in Madagascar had happened in any other sub-Saharan country, the place would have fallen into civil war at one of any of half a dozen points over the past year. But even in the face of the worst of politics, the people of Madagascar have always been somehow peaceful with only occasional violence. The average Malagasy people, in my view, just don’t care enough to actually take up arms against each other.  Unfortunately, at times, the US Government has a black and white view of how they give aid. So the bad news is that all of the NGOs in Madagascar have lost funding and pulled out. There were a number of projects targeting the cocoa sector and working with farmers, but they’re now all gone.  Recently constructed buildings are completely abandoned. Lots of good intentions that turned into a large waste of money (again, my opinion). It kind of motivates Madécasse even more and further supports our gut feeling that real change needs to come through the private sector.

Talk soon,

Monday, August 17, 2009

Amano Bar of the Week

Cacao Content: 70%
Origin: Venezuela
Bean Type: Criollo
On Saturday August 22 we will be sampling out Amano's Ocumare bar. Amano boasts that "once in a great while, a great chocolate is created." This bar proves that is has a rich taste with notes of red plum and delicate flower notes. The bar is composed of Criollo beans(the finest chocolate beans).
If you are tempted to try the bar stop by on Saturday to sample out fine artisan chocolate that is made in Utah.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bar of the Week: Pralus Equateur

Cacao Content: 75%

Origin: Ecuador

Bean Type: Trinitario (Arriba)

This week's featured bar is the Pralus Equateur. Not only is this a single origin bar, but Pralus can pinpoint the region so closely that they print the coordinates right on the package: 2 degrees 20 minutes South, 78 degrees 40 minutes West, which puts the plantation in south central Ecuador.

The Equateur is a fine example of the Arriba bean. Full flavored, fruity, and strongly aromatic with a delightful hint of walnut. For an interesting comparison, try Pralus' version alongside another chocolate maker's treatment of the very same bean. Republica Del Cacao (Ecuadorian), Pacari (Ecuadorian), Askinosie (American), and Domori (Italian) all offer bars made from the Ecuadorian Arriba Nacional.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bar of the Week: Amedei Porcelana

Region: Venezuela

Bean Type: Criollo

Cocoa Content: 70%

Widely considered to be the best chocolate in the world, Amedei's Porcelana is a fine example of how great dark chocolate should taste. When experienced each bite must be savored, for it is a true indulgence in the world of chocolate, though the price is much more agreeable when compared to a vintage bottle of wine. The name "porcelana" refers to the color of the cacao pod from which the beans are extracted. The outside of the pod is white, almost translucent, and is reminiscent of porcelain.

This delicate strain of cacao produces a beautifully mild, subtle, well-balanced chocolate. The next time you're in our shop, consider the Amedei Porcelana. It's an investment you won't regret!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lillie Belle Truffles on Sale!

We have a surplus of truffles by Lillie Belle Farms and until July 31st we're providing them to you at the special price of $1.75 ($2.50 for the Almond Ginger Pears). Stop by and try them all while they last:

Raspberry Cordial

Lemon Coconut Buttercream

Marzipan Fig

Maker's Mark Cup

Pistachio Marzipan Cup

Black Pepper Ganache

Chipotle Ganache

Spearmint Ganache

Orange Ganache

Monday, July 20, 2009

Golden Ticket Contest

Congratulations to our Golden Ticket winners! Unfortunately all three of our tickets have been found or given away, but keep on the lookout for more great events and giveaways at Chocolopolis.
For those that were unable to stop by, on Friday Jeff Shepherd of Lillie Belle Chocolates treated us to a special demonstration and tasting of his confections (all photos courtesy of Chris Blakely):

And on Saturday, Andrew from Claudio Corallo Chocolate stopped by to provide our customers with a tasting of Claudio's unique bars, which come from the tiny African islands of Sao Tome and Principe:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Customer Appreciation Night

We're having a party just for you! As a way of saying thanks for supporting our business we'd like to invite everyone to Chocolopolis this evening from 7 to 9 pm for snacks and chocolate treats. All purchases over $5 will receive a small gift and for every $10 spent you get an entry into our Golden Ticket raffle. The raffle drawing will be held at 5 pm on Saturday, July 18th, and the winner will receive a free bar of chocolate every week for a year. Entrants need not be present for the drawing to win so don't worry if you can't make it by this evening. We have more events to come on Friday and Saturday with tastings by Lillie Belle and Claudio Corallo.

Also, the awards for the 2009 Seattle Chocolate Salon have just been announced:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

DRY Soda and Chocolate Pairing

Join us at Chocolopolis this evening from 6 to 8 pm for a chance to sample DRY soda, a delicious alternative to beer and wine. Each soda is lightly sweetened with cane sugar and flavored with fruit, flower or herbal extracts, and pairs perfectly with dark chocolate. DRY sodas are also available for purchase in our store in a selection that includes four refreshing flavors - Juniper Berry, Vanilla Bean, Lemongrass and Rhubarb.

If you can't make it by this evening we have more events coming every day this week, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bastille Day Events

It's our one-year anniversary and we're beginning the week with a celebration of France and its fine chocolate makers. On the hour today from 5 to 8 pm join us at our store for free guided tastings of chocolate from Michel Cluizel and Valrhona, and for a video documenting Cluizel's chocolate-making techniques. The video will be shown in English at 5:15 and 7:15 pm and in French at 6:15 pm. We will also be offering a 10% discount throughout the day on the purchase of any bars by Valrhona, Cluizel, Bonnat and Pralus.

Vive La France!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Closed for the 4th of July

Our store will be closed this Saturday for the 4th of July, but we will reopen on Sunday at 10 am. We will also be sampling out our bar of the week, Bonnat's 75% Madagascar, on Sunday from noon to 5 pm. Stop by and give it a try!

Also, check out our website for the list of store events in celebration of our one-year anniversary, beginning with the Seattle Chocolate Salon on July 12th:

Have a great weekend!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cluziel's Grand Lait 45%

Region: Blend

Cacao Content: 45%

Michel Cluziel is noted for saying, "to arouse pleasure, chocolate must delight the palate like no other exquisite sweet." His Grand Lait 45% bar does exactly this. Like all of his other chocolates it melts smoothly in your mouth and has notes of carmel and hazelnuts.

A HISTORY NOTE: Cluziel started concocting chocolates in 1947 at his parent's pastry business. This was the start of a very prosperous chocolate relationship between himself and his parents that would last for roughly 36 years. His first chocolate shop was opened in 1987 in Paris and 10 years later he made his first single origin/single estate bar, Hacienda Concepcion.

Come into Chocolopolis on June 27 to experience Cluziel's delightful milk chocolate blend.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bar of the Week: Cluizel Los Ancones

Region: Dominican Republic

Cocoa Content: 67%

Michel Cluizel describes this bar as having notes of red berries and green olives with a lingering flavor of currants and apricots. We describe it as being delicious.

Rediscover Caribbean cacao this Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Back in Stock...

Our shelves are well-stocked this week with new shipments from Amedei, Askinosie and Dolfin.

As our featured maker of the month it's only fitting that we brought back two of the bars that make Amedei one of the finest chocolate makers in the world, the Chuao from Venezuela and the "9" bar whose name is taken from it's blend of nine beans from around the world. Also on hand is the Bianco Con Pistacchi, a delicious white chocolate blend studded with Bronte pistachios.

Another option on the white chocolate front is Askinosie's single-origin San Jose Del Tambo white bar, made with the unique addition of goat's milk powder. This isn't your traditional white chocolate bar and we have plenty of samples for anyone who would like a taste. For those that like a little crunch in their chocolate we have Askinosie's white bar with salted pistachios and one with cacao nibs.

Our inclusion section is bursting with bars blended with everything from passion fruit to pink peppercorns, and Dolfin brings two flavored milk chocolate bars to the mix. The first is a blend of 32% milk chocolate and sencha green tea from Japan, while the Hot Masala bar is spiced with ginger, black pepper, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon.

In the truffle case we've brought back the pineapple and coconut confections by Norman Love as well as one new treat, a peanut butter ganache blended with Swiss milk chocolate.

With all of the options available in our store we know that one bar is never enough, and that's why we're developing a frequent customer card to reward you for your business. The actual card is still in the works but we'll let you know as soon as it's available.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Bar of the Week: Pralus Papouasie

Region: Southeast Asia

Bean Type: Trinitario

Cocoa Content: 75%

This photo was taken prior to Pralus' recent packaging overhaul. The Papaousie is not quite the POW of hot pink it once was. It's now a more subdued, natural, eco-friendly brown with a stripe of the old pink. But, packaging aside, the quality and flavor of the bar haven't changed a bit!

The Papouasie is crafted from cacao beans grown in Papua New Guinea. It's flavor offers just a hint of the smokiness that characterizes southeast asian cacao. Due to the moist climate, cacao growers often use wood fires (rather than sunshine) to dry their beans. As a result, a delightful smokey flavor comes through in the finished product.

As always, we'll be sampling it out next Saturday from 10:00 to 5:00!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Saturday Sample: AMEDEI CHUAO!

Mark your calendars, chocolate fans, because this coming Saturday, June 6th, you are in for a rare treat. It's June, and this month we've chosen to feature Amedei--that infamous, Tuscan, brother-sister team. In tribute, we'll be sampling out Amedei's prized 70% Chuao chocolate from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm!

If you're unfamiliar with Amedei, let us tell you a little bit about why we love them. Amedei is widely considered to be the finest bean-to-bar chocolate maker in the world. In fact, Amedei bars have been the recipients of The Academy of Chocolate's coveted "Golden Bean" Award all four years that the award has been in existence, the Chuao alone winning 2 of the 4. See the list of winners for 2009.

Stop in and see our display, complete with Amedei's list of awards, as well as suggested wine pairings for each of the Amedei bars in stock. And please, don't hesitate to ask our staff what makes the Chuao so special!

*One more, thing: Amedei has recently and dramatically reduced their prices. Chocolate excellence, my friends, is finally within your grasp. See you Saturday!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bar of the Week: Byrne & Carlson Violet Bar

Region: Inclusion

Cocoa Content: 54%

This week we are featuring another elegant selection by New Hampshire chocolatiers, Byrne & Carlson. The Violet Bar is a stunning work of art inspired by Art Nouveau botanical motifs and replicated in semisweet Belgium chocolate studded with candied violets and mint leaves. Some might say this bar is too beautiful to eat, but we disagree. Enjoy with your eyes and then with your mouth!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New - Madécasse Chocolate Bars

We use the term "new" loosely since these bars have been in our shop for a couple of weeks now, but in case you didn't notice them tucked away in our Madagascar section they are the newest addition to our collection. Madécasse, pronounced mah - DAY - cas, is the brainchild of two former Peace Corp volunteers who took on the challenge of producing chocolate at the source from tree to bean to bar.

The pods are grown and harvested in the Sambirano Valley of Madagascar, a region known for its fine cacao. The ripest pods are selected and split open, and the beans and pulp are fermented for 4-6 days and then laid out to dry in the sun. The beans are then sent to the highlands of Madagascar for the remainder of the chocolate-making process to produce the three bars available in our store, 63%, 70% and 75%.

"Why Madagascar?", you may wonder. The entire island is organic and much of the cacao is grown without the use of pesticides or herbicides. The cultivation and harvesting is done by hand, on a small scale. Processing the chocolate close to the source means that the beans don't sit around as long and the people of Madgascar profit more from their natural resources and receive four times more revenue than if they chose to go the Fair Trade route. Skills, market knowledge, profit and ownership are shared with the people of Madagascar, encouraging them to continue to produce some of the best cacao in the world.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Bar of the Week: Domori Carupano

Region: Venezuela

Bean Type: Trinitario

Cocoa Content: 70%

Our May feature of Domori ends with the delicious Carupano, named for the historic cacao grown in the eastern region of Venezuela. Notes of nuts, black pepper, woods, and vanilla permeate each bite, lifting this dark chocolate to the top of our list of bars to try. Another reason to get your hands on a bar now is that they are no longer being produced due to a corporate decision to cut back on Domori's product line. You may have noticed the change in packaging recently for the new Domori bars, but one thing we hope will remain the same is the taste.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend and we'll see you this Saturday!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Chocolopolis Update

Thanks to everyone who stopped by for our Christopher Elbow event last week. For those that missed out, Mr. Elbow was on hand to answer questions and sample out three confection flavors created just for us. A lucky handful of customers were also treated to a special demonstration of how to make the very popular fleur de sel chocolates, and we've posted photos below courtesy of photographer and chocolate connoisseur, Chris Blakely.

Our next event is a special Scotch and Chocolate tasting on Father's Day, June 21st from 6 to 8 pm. The cost for the event is $65 per person and includes a tasting of three scotches/whiskeys paired with five different single-origin chocolates. Tickets can be purchased through our website at or by calling our store at (206) 282-0776. This special event is limited to 12 people so make sure you reserve a spot early!

Bar of the Week: Domori Rio Caribe

Region: Venezuela

Bean Type: Trinitario

Cocoa Content: 70%

This week Chocolopolis continues its tasting of the Cru Line by Domori with our featured bar, the Rio Caribe Superior. Its beans come from the plantation San Jose in Venezuela which was acquired by Grupo Franceschi in 1840, and is known as being one of the great epicenters of fine Criollo beans. Domori paired up with Grupo Franceschi in 2004 with the idea to bring Criollo chocolate back to its pure origins.

The Rio Caribe Superior is a 75 gram bar that will leave you longing for more. Notes of nuts, ripe fruit, raisins, and tobacco surface on the palette throughout the tasting. The chocolate has the unique yet traditional Domori characteristic of being molded without any lines or indentations. This detail allows the consumer to savor as little or as much as they want without worrying about how many squares make up a single-serving portion.

Only two ingredients are combined to create this bar - cocoa mass and cane sugar. Free of soy lecithin, vanilla, and added cocoa butter, the Cru line by Domori allows you to taste the complex flavors of artisan chocolate by keeping the ingredients the way they should be - simple.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bar of the Week: Domori Apurimac

Region: Peru

Bean Type: Trinitario

Cocoa Content: 70%
To inaugurate our month-long tribute to the Italian chocolate maker Domori, we've decided to aim our spotlight at the Apurimac 70%. This bar is named for the Apurimac River Valley in Peru where the beans are grown, and represents the shop's only Peruvian single-origin chocolate.
This bar is what we like to call "a kick in the mouth." It's full of personality, evident even in its rich, spicy aroma. We would describe the taste as an immediate and powerful burst of fruit, especially green banana, and a mild, creamy finish with notes of flowers and caramel.
Even the packaging is something to behold; a conglomeration of tropical birds and other animals, which can be found on Domori's entire Cru Cacao Cult line. Stop in and pick up these bars now, because the company is rumored to be changing their packaging in the near future.

Christopher Elbow Tasting Thursday!

Christopher Elbow is coming to Seattle to visit Chocolopolis this Thursday, May 14th. We've scheduled two tastings that day so that everyone can have a chance to stop by, and both events are free of charge.

1 to 3 pm - Tea and Chocolate with Christopher. Join us for a cup of tea, a finger sandwich and a sample of Mr. Elbow's chocolates.

7 to 9 pm - Cheese, Crackers and Chocolate with Christopher. Stop by and mingle with the man behind our most popular confections.

We'll also be holding raffles during both events. Every $5 spent in our store gets you a raffle ticket for a chance to win Christopher Elbow chocolate or a specially selected item from our store.

Save the date and we hope to see you this Thursday!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Bar of the Week: Michel Cluizel Concepcion

Region: Venezuela

Cocoa Content: 66%

This will be the final bar in our taste of the Michel Cluizel collection before we begin our feature of another artisan chocolate maker (here's a hint - they're Italian). The Carenero beans used to make this bar are from a regional type of cacao grown east of Venezuela's capitol, Caracas. The beans are fermented, dried, and polished in the traditional methods that have been used since 1902 before being handcrafted into one of Cluizel's signature bars. The tasting notes alone are enough to pique interest with descriptions of vanilla, honey spice cake, and caramel, and a lingering aroma of dried fruit.

Also worth a mention are the Cluizel champignons, which are back in stock on our truffle counter. These delicious mushroom-shaped chocolates are filled with a hazelnut gianduja cream and topped with a crunchy nut praline. There are many other deals and delights for you to discover so stop by this Saturday for a taste of Michel Cluizel.

Fun Fact: The Concepcion bar debuted in 1997, along with the Caribbean Los Ancones and the Mangaro bar which uses beans from Madagascar. Each bar is named for its home plantation.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bar of the Week: Michel Cluizel Noir 60%

Cocoa content: 60%

Region: Blend

Michel Cluizel (center) with his children.

Well, it's official: April is Michel Cluizel month at Chocolopolis. This is the third Cluizel bar we've featured in the last few weeks, and if you've been in the store recently, you've no doubt seen our large Cluizel display complete with posters and pamphlets. Chocolate this good deserves the attention!

This week's featured bar comes from Cluizel's line of "blends," or chocolate made with beans from multiple origins. At 60% cocoa, it falls into the semisweet range and it's flavor is delightfully balanced and smooth. Try the 60% in comparison to Cluizel's other blends- 85%, 72%, and 45% (milk).

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bar of the Week: Michel Cluizel Vila Gracinda

Region: Africa

Cocoa Content: 67%

The Island of Sao Tome, just off the coast of central Africa, has been called the "birthplace of African Cacao in the 19th Century." It's marine climate and rich volcanic soil make it an ideal environment for producing some of the world's most flavorful and aromatic cacao.

Well aware of this fact, Michel Cluizel established a private cacao plantation on the island, the Vila Gracinda Estate. All of the cacao beans used to make this week's featured bar were grown on this estate, and the distinct flavors of the region--ripe, tropical fruits, spices-- shine through beautifully.

And, like all of Cluizel's dark chocolate bars, the Vila Gracinda Plantation bar contains only cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar, and natural vanilla bean (no soy lecithin to be found!). You'll find Cluizel's Noble Ingredients seal of approval right on the box:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bar of the Week: Pralu Caracas 75%

75% Dark Chocolate

Origin: Venezuela

Bean Type: Trinitario

Though it is no longer the world's largest exporter of cacao, Venezuela is still considered by many to produce the world's finest beans. The Pralus Caracas, named for the Venezuelan capitol, is just one of a host of bars in Chocolopolis' inventory produced from Venezuelan cacao.
The Caracas belongs to Francois Pralus' single-origin line of dark chocolates, and, like it's colorfully wrapped siblings, it is just as wonderful to look at as it is to eat! Compare this bar to another of Pralus' single-origins (we recommend the Djakarta or the Madagascar) to see just how much geography can affect the flavor of cacao.

Fun Fact: Francois Pralus' belief in the ancient Aztec god, Quetzalcoatl, reportedly serves as his inspiration to make fine chocolate directly from the bean.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Bar of the Week: Michel Cluizel Grand Noir 85%

Region: Blend

Cocoa Content: 85%

What makes an excellent bar of chocolate? This week's featured bar is a perfect object lesson. One should look for (among other things):

1. A short ingredients list: Cocoa solids, cocoa butter, cane sugar, and real vanilla.

2. Attention to detail. From bean harvest to roasting to conching to tempering, exceptional chocolate makers know precisely which techniques and methods can bring a cacao bean to its full potential. Artisan chocolate making is not a hobby, it is an obsession.

Michel Cluizel is, as it were, obsessed. He has become world-renowned for excellent temper, moulding, and mouth feel. When you unwrap this bar, you will see why. The surface is smooth and shiny, and the bar is a beautiful deep brown. It breaks cleanly and gives a strong snap, an unmistakable sign of high cocoa-content, well-tempered chocolate. Despite it's high percentage, this bar is remarkably smooth and creamy, melting beautifully on the tongue.

We'll be sampling the bar all day Saturday, so please stop in and try the Cluizel 85% blend. If you've never experienced a high-percentage dark chocolate, this is an ideal place to start!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pacari Tasting on March 28th

Recently we picked Pacari's 72% Los Rios as our bar of the week. This Saturday we are giving you the chance to taste some of their other great chocolate products. We'll be featuring their chocolate-covered nibs, golden berries, and dried bananas, and we'll also have on hand some samples of their 60% Esmeraldas bar.

All of Pacari's products are made with single-origin Arriba Nacional cacao grown in the rainforests of Ecuador. The chocolate is handcrafted in small batches and is certified organic and kosher parve.

The tasting will start at 1:00 pm and will last until we run out of chocolate, so come early!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Easter is on its way!

It's bunnies and eggs galore at Chocolopolis with new items by Michel Cluizel. From long-eared milk chocolate rabbits for the kids to delicious gianduja nests with pate de fruits eggs for adults, we've got all of your favorite Easter treats covered. We're even getting into the action ourselves by handcrafting hollow chocolate eggs in store from dark, milk, and white chocolate and filling them with Cluizel's delicious ganache eggs.

For our clientel observing Passover, we just introduced a line of matzoh clusters made from 55% chocolate and topped with either sea salt or chili salt. The clusters come packaged in tubes of six, and we can also make up a platter of 18 clusters for Seder dinners.

Also worth a mention are the two new Norman Love confections residing in our case - Florida Orange and Java Fudge. You asked for coffee truffles and boy does the flavor of this confection deliver. Skip the $4 latte and satisfy your sweet tooth with a stop in today.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New - Norman Love Confections

All the way from Ft. Myers, Florida, Norman Love's chocolates are now available in our truffle case. We are starting out with eight flavors of his beautifully decorated confections - Raspberry, Cookies 'n' Cream, Passion Fruit, Cinnamon Roll, Eclair, Pistachio Cherry, Key Lime, and Vanilla Cupcake. Each has either a dark, milk, or white chocolate shell and a creamy ganache that is flavored without artificial ingredients.

Like many chocolatiers, Norman Love started out in the restaurant industry before opening Norman Love Confections with his wife, Mary, in 2001. He honed his skills working as an Executive Pastry Chef for the Ritz-Carlton hotels in Naples and St. Louis, and the Beverly Hills Hotel in California. He has been named one of the top chocolatiers in the nation, first by USA Today in 2002 and again by Consumer Reports in 2005, and his skilled airbrush and painting techniques that he uses to color his masterpieces have inspired numerous chocolatiers to do the same.

Stop by today and discover "Love at first bite".

Monday, March 9, 2009

Bar of the Week: Byrne & Carlson Mendiant Bar

Region: Inclusions
Cocoa Content: 55%
Ellen Byrne and Christopher Carlson are the husband and wife duo behind this Portsmouth, New Hampshire chocolate company. Each bar they produce is crafted from the finest French, Belgium and Venezuelan chocolate available and decorated by hand. This week's bar takes its name from a traditional French confection that is typically decorated with raisins, hazelnuts, almonds, and figs, with each item representing the color of a monastic robe. Byrne & Carlson's mendiant bar has a Valrhona semi-sweet chocolate base that is the perfect complement to its jewel-like adornments of candied orange peel, almonds, candied mint leaves, tart cherries, and candied violets. With each bite a new flavor flourishes, and this bar is certain to be a winner with our Saturday tasting crowd.
Fun Fact: Ellen and Christopher have been working together for almost 20 years and have been married for 11. They started Byrne & Carlson Confections in 1999 and have purposely kept the business small so that they can continue to make each product themselves, ensuring that every bar produced will impress the consumer with its appearance and taste.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Bar of the Week: Michel Cluizel Les Criolles

In addition to the 150+ bars that Chocolopolis carries, we also sell a wide variety of books and confections. This week we're taking a break from sampling bars to feature these beautiful cacao pods designed by French chocolate maker, Michel Cluizel. Each pod is handcrafted from Cluizel's dark chocolate and colored with cocoa butter. One bite into a pod reveals a rich dark chocolate ganache made with cacao from "Los Ancones", a plantation on the island of Santo Domingo where an aromatic variety of trinitario is cultivated. Cacao has been grown here in the same method since 1903, without the use of fertilizers or pesticides. Cluizel describes the finished chocolate as having notes of liquorice wood, red berries, and green olives, with a lingering flavor of currants and apricots. These pods make a tasty gift or after dinner treat, but they won't be around forever so stop in for some today.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pacari Chocolate

Region: Ecuador
Bean Type: Nacional
Cocoa Content: 72%

This week's featured bar is from Pacari Chocolate- a line new to Chocolopolis. Pacari Chocolate, a company based in Quito, Ecuador, produces premium fair trade, organic chocolate from Ecuadorian beans. Their product line includes chocolate bars as well as chocolate covered fruits, nuts, and cacao nibs. Uniquely, two of their bars are "Raw," meaning they are made from unroasted beans that are processed at low temperatures. Pacari claims that such a process "maintains the anitoxidants and complex flavor of the cacao."

Pacari is one of a very few bean-to-bar chocolate makers who process their chocolate entirely in the country of origin. The company's founders, Carla Borboto and Santiago Peralta, are passionate not only about using organic ingredients, but also improving the communities in which the beans are grown. They founded the "Organic Agriculture Educational Project" which helps educate both local farmers and school children.

Our bar of the week is a 72% dark chocolate bar from the Los Rios region of Ecuador. The Los Rios bar has a wonderfully complex flavor profile: we tasted hints of smoke, green plant, olive, and rum. It's bold, it's unique, it's earthy. And with descriptions like that, it should feel right at home here in Seattle!

Fun Fact: The word Pacari means "nature" in Quechua, an indigenous language of Ecuador.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Bar of the Week - Michel Cluizel Lait aux Noisettes

Region: Inclusion
Cocoa Content: 45%

Michel Cluizel began his chocolate career in 1948 as an apprentice in his parent's chocolate shop in Normandy, France. 60 years later his company employs over 200 people, including his four children, and produces some of the finest chocolate in the world. His passion for making chocolate is evident in his careful production methods and his dedication on every bar to use only the purest of ingredients. His 72% blend has quite a following on our premium drinking chocolate menu, and two of his single-origin bars are featured this month in our 5 for $5 Thursday tastings. This Saturday we are once again catering to the milk chocolate lovers by sampling out Monsieur Cluizel's 45% milk chocolate which has been blended with roasted and ground Italian hazelnuts. For those who do dark only, a cup of our Cluizel hot chocolate is a great excuse to get out of the chilly weather and rain showers predicted for this weekend.

Fun Fact: Michel Cluizel was among the first to make chocolate using beans from a single plantation.