Sunday, December 26, 2010

Bar of the Week: Pralus' Colombie

Our bar of the week is another staff favorite that we featured earlier in the year.  A 75% dark chocolate of single-origin Trinitario beans, Pralus' Colombie combines the nutty and coffee notes common to the region's chocolates with Pralus' typical heavy roast and creamy texture.  If you're a fan of strong coffee, this bar will probably appeal. 

Since Chocolopolis will be closed for a brief holiday next weekend, we'll have samples of Pralus' Colombie on Friday, December 31st. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bar of the Week: Pacari's Los Rios

Our bar of the week comes from family-owned Ecuadorian chocolate maker Pacari, and features arriba nacional cacao grown Ecuador's Los Rios region.  The 72% dark chocolate Los Rios bar is organic, soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and certified kosher.  According to Pacari, “The Los Rios bar evokes the exotic aromas of the lush tropical forests where the cacao is grown. You will find strong upfront cacao with notes of fruit blossom and subtle finish of guanábana and roasted coffee.”

Since we will be closed on Christmas Day, we'll offer samples of Pacari's Los Rios on Friday, December 24th.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bar of the Week: Valrhona's Palmira

Our bar of the week is the 2010 vintage Palmira from Valrhona, a 64% dark chocolate made from criollo cacao grown on the Palmira plantation in west Venezuela. Notes of fruit and cocoa are underlined by a pronounced honeyed sweetness that lingers for a long finish.

Since properly stored dark chocolate can keep indefinitely, Valrhona's policy of labeling each batch of Palmira with a year rather than just an expiration date suggests that it might a good candidate for aging.  Perhaps a few years in a cool, dry place would allow Palmira's flavor profile to develop even more character.  For comparison's sake, why not get one for snacking and one for cellaring? 
Be sure to come by for a taste of "fresh" 2010 Palmira on Saturday, December 18th.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Bar of the Week: Amedei's Toscano Black 70%

As we approach the holidays it's easy to imagine our bar of the week's elegant black wrapper as the confectionery equivalent of a tuxedo or LBD.  And Amedei's Toscano Black 70% bar tastes every bit as refined as it looks. 

The Toscano Black range features a top-secret blend of different cacaos developed by Italian makers Amedei.  The 70% dark chocolate bar is rich and complex, with berry and floral top notes and a smooth, creamy texture. 

Come by for a sample of Amedei's Toscano Black 70% on Saturday, December 11th.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Farewell to Our Biggest Fan


David Adler

My wonderful and supportive father, David Adler, passed away unexpectedly two weeks ago just as we were celebrating the opening of our new store at The Bravern in Bellevue.  Dad’s passions in life were good food, good conversation, me and my mom and, more recently, Chocolopolis.  I’m incredibly fortunate to have been able to share Chocolopolis with him for 3 years. While my father was always proud of me, this was the first time we shared a passion for my career choice. As our biggest fan and supporter, I thought Dad deserved a chocolate-covered send off.

Mom and Dad moved to the Seattle area from Washington, DC three years ago just as I was signing a lease for our Queen Anne location and beginning the build out of Chocolopolis. He was very concerned about this undertaking of mine, trying to discourage me at every turn from moving forward. It’s not that he didn’t believe in me, it was his way of trying to protect his only child from a risky venture. As a retailer himself, he knew how hard the retail business could be, and he was concerned I wouldn’t have enough customers to support a chocolate store. He kept saying to me, “I think you should open a corned beef and pastrami stand. Now that would do really well.” It just goes to show you that you can take the boy out of Brooklyn, but you can’t take Brooklyn out of the boy.

When I finally opened the store, Dad was pleasantly surprised that I had customers and that I wouldn’t be going out of business. He quickly became Chocolopolis’ biggest supporter. He would lay awake at night coming up with marketing and product ideas. He’d try to tell me these ideas on a rare day off, when all I wanted to do was relax and not talk about business. Lucky for him my wonderful husband was kind enough to listen to his ideas and to share them with me later when I was ready to hear them. My mother eventually trained Dad to write his ideas down, and then he’d bring them to the store when I was working and share them with me. While some of the ideas would be more appropriate for 1940’s Brooklyn, other ideas were truly inspired and showed a deep understanding of the business, modern technology and my skill set.
The Adlers at Chocolopolis

Dad was Chocolopolis’ biggest promoter. He would sit with a cup of drinking chocolate at our window counter and tell anyone who came near the counter that the drinking chocolate was fantastic. If we tried to approach him and talk to him while he was doing this, he’d shoo us away and pretend not to know us so we wouldn’t blow his cover. On more than one occasion when my husband walked down Queen Anne Avenue with Dad, he would tell people in passing that there was a fantastic chocolate shop just down the street that had great figs or drinking chocolate. Those items, along with our chocolate-covered marshmallows, were his favorites, and he talked about them often.

My father is living testament to the idea that anyone can become a dark chocolate eater. He and I both ate almost exclusively mass-market milk chocolate for most of our lives. One of our all-time favorites was the Cadbury Fruit & Nut bar, which was usually in our fridge (yes, we put chocolate in the fridge). For a time when I was a teenager, he worked as a merchandiser for Hershey, and we’d get all the out-of-code chocolate to eat – I loved that job.  When I opened Chocolopolis I began introducing him to good dark chocolate. While I’ve seen a lot of customers’ palates adapt, including my own, I never expected his to change. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that shortly after I opened the store, he would no longer touch the mass market chocolate, and he’d come to prefer dark chocolate. I’m proud to say I never saw another bar of Cadbury Fruit & Nut in the house again. He only wanted the good stuff.

Many of my staff got to know Dad well, and they took great care of him. They’d immediately offer him a cup of drinking chocolate when he arrived at the store. If they were experimenting with a new product, they’d bring out a sample just for him. He usually loved whatever they were working on. He liked to see the sales totals, so they’d print out a sales report as soon as he arrived. He was very fond of my wonderful team of young ladies. I have to say a special thanks to those he got to know particularly well. My heartfelt thanks to Stacey, who has known Dad since I opened the store, and who calls herself an “honorary Adler”. Many warm thanks also to Emily, Roxanne, Julia, Candace, Robin and Sarah. He loved talking to all of you, and he constantly told me how nice you were to him.

Dad passed away the second day of our grand opening at The Bravern. He had not been to see the store since we’d opened because he wanted to wait for the grand opening when he knew it would be packed with customers. We had very good sales on our first day of grand opening, and I was able to tell him the sales total. He smiled and tried to say something. We could tell he was pleased. Sales on day two of the grand opening were even better, but this time Dad was gone and I couldn’t share it with him. While it was hard to swallow, I take comfort that he knew our first day was an excellent one.

Davy making Egg Creams @ Chocolopolis

I’d like to offer a chocolate-covered toast to Dad. We’ll think of you every time we sip drinking chocolate, eat a Chocolopolis fig or savor a chocolate-covered marshmallow. You’ll be with us every night we have a good sales report. We’ll remember you fondly whenever we make a Brooklyn egg cream. It’s because of you that we know the proper ratio of chocolate to seltzer to milk, and we won’t forget to stir at each step. And most importantly, I’ll call it “chewauklet” with a Brooklyn accent every once in awhile just so I can hear your voice.

I’ve enjoyed every minute of these past 3 years sharing Chocolopolis with you. I love you, Dad.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bar of the Week: Amedei's Toscano Blond

Our bar of the week is so good we're featuring it for a second time: it's Toscano Blond from Amedei.  Here's what I had to say about the Blond bar in a previous post:

"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."

If you you're in need of a little sunshine, stop by for a sample of Amedei's Blond on Saturday, December 4. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bar of the Week: Claudio Corallo's Gengibre

Feeling under the weather?  Need a throat-soothing, tummy-taming, soul-warming treat?  Then come try our bar of the week:  Claudio Corallo's Gengibre. 

Grown and processed on an island off the west coast of Africa, Corallo's unconched chocolate is deliciously earthy and cool, full of flavors you just won't find in any other chocolate.  For his Gengibre bar, Corallo adds spicy crystallized ginger to his 75% dark chocolate, creating an appealing balance of contrasting textures, tastes, and temperatures.

Come by on Saturday, November 27, for a sample of Claudio Corallo's Gengibre bar.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bar of the Week: Patric's Rio Caribe

Although American micro-batch chocolate maker Patric is best known for a line of Madagascar bars, they've also made one successful foray into Venezuela.  Our bar of the Week is Patric's Rio Caribe, a 70% dark chocolate from cacao grown on Venezuela's Paria Penninsula.  This is a full-bodied and complex chocolate with creamy, nutty base notes and flashes of bright fruit and flowers.

We'll be serving up samples of Patric's Rio Caribe on Saturday, November 20.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bar of the Week: Valrhona's Guanaja

Our bar of the week is Valrhona's Guanaja, the first of this major chocolate producer's line of "grand cru" chocolates.  This 70% dark chocolate is mix of criollo, trinitario, and forastero cacaos named for the island in the Bay of Honduras where the beans were farmed. Valrhona's tagline for the bar is "bittersweet and elegant"; it features a pared-down flavor profile, with floral and fruity notes anchored by a pleasant bitterness reminiscent of coffee or nuts. 

Come by and try Valrhona's Guanaja on Saturday, November 13th.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

New Chocolate Makers Have Arrived!

There’s a lot going on at Chocolopolis right now, including the addition of three new fantastic chocolate makers to our carefully-curated collection of bean-to-bar chocolate.  Each one has an interesting story and fantastic chocolate. Without further ado, I introduce Fine + Raw, Fresco and El Ceibo.

Fine + Raw

I have to give credit for this find to Julia Harrison, who works at Chocolopolis on the weekends. Julia has been looking for good raw chocolate, and found Fine + Raw online shortly before I left for the Fancy Food Show in New York.

It was about 90 degrees outside when I dragged my mother to Greenpoint in Brooklyn for a meeting with Fine + Raw. I sat down with Daniel Sklaar, the founder of Fine + Raw, and his partner Georgie Castle. We proceeded to taste all of their chocolate, and all of it was delicious.  Since we were already in the heat of summer, it wasn’t a good time to ship their chocolate to Seattle. So I’ve been anxiously awaiting Fine + Raw’s arrival for months. It’s finally here!

What is raw chocolate? It’s chocolate made from cacao that is neither roasted nor heated above 116⁰ at any point during processing. The idea is that it keeps more of the nutrients and antioxidants intact. Raw or not, this chocolate is delicious. Daniel uses Ecuadorian cacao to make his final product, and he offers more than just solid chocolate.

Fine + Raw’s bonbon bars have a very thin layer of plain chocolate bonbon or chipotle bonbon running through the center of the bar. Their Chunky Bonbon bars are filled with vegan truffles made with either almond praline or coconut milk and chocolate. They’re addictive.

Fresco Chocolate
We’re very excited to be one of the first retailers in the country to carry Fresco Chocolate, originating right up the road in Bellingham, WA. Founder and chocolate maker Rob Anderson has been bringing us prototype samples for over a year, and he finally launched his bean-to-bar chocolate in the last 2 weeks. Rob didn’t start slowly. He jumped right in with 4 bars from three origins. One of the coolest things about Fresco is that Rob provides information about roasting and conching styles on each box of chocolate. He offers 2 Jamaica 70% bars, one with a dark roast and subtle conch, and one with a dark roast and medium (longer) conch. It’s a great way to compare the difference conching makes when other variables are kept the same. He also has a Ghana bar with a medium roast and a medium conch and a Dominican Republic bar with a light roast and a subtle conch. Rob has agreed to come to Chocolopolis to sample his chocolate. Stay tuned for a date, which we hope will be soon.

Our free chocolate happy hour in Queen Anne this Thursday (11/4) features Fresco chocolate. Stop by for a chance to taste this great new chocolate.

El Ceibo
I received a phone call this summer from a Bolivian gentleman named Pastor Payllo who represents El Ceibo, a coop of Bolivian cacao growers who make their own chocolate. Pastor called me at the recommendation of Biaggio Abbatiello, the owner of Biaggio Chocolate in DC. So thanks to Biaggio, we’ve got El Ceibo. Now that's a mouthful!

Not only is this chocolate delicious, it’s great for the farmer. As the bar label says, “From the trees to the chocolate, we do not collaborate with the producers, we are the producers.” El Ceibo grows organic cacao in the low-altitude, tropical, northern part of Bolivia called Alto Beni. They transport their cacao to a chocolate factory in the Andes to process it into chocolate. El Ceibo chocolate packs a wonderful flavor profile with a bit of texture. You may notice that the bar is a bit rustic-looking with an uneven temper. To me that’s part of its charm. Ultimately the flavor of the cacao shines through.

There are 2 El Ceibo bars, a 75% bar that you'll find in our Central & South America regional section and a 77% bar with Cacao Nibs & Uyuni Salt, located in our inculsion section. The salt for the inclusion bar comes from the largest salt flat in the world, located in southwest Bolivia near the crest of the Andes.  For those of you familiar with Chloe Doutre-Roussel, author of The Chocolate Connoisseur, this chocolate even has her seal of approval on the box. We have boxes of single-origin Bolivian cocoa powder at our Queen Anne store, and we expect a delivery of El Ceibo’s traditional drinking chocolate disks in the next month.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bar of the Week: Fine & Raw's Crystals and Sea Salt

We are so excited to be carrying a range of chocolate bars from Fine & Raw.  This Brooklyn-based maker keeps its chocolate at low temperatures during processing, maintaining more of the cacao's naturally beneficial nutrients--without sacrificing any deliciousness.

Our bar of the week is Fine & Raw's Crystals and Himalayan Sea Salt.  The base is a 70% dark chocolate made from Ecuadorian cacao, to which they add a touch of sea salt and "crystals" of palm sugar, a sweetener made from palm tree flowers.  The balance of flavors and textures is absolutely amazing and dangerously addictive.  Stop by on Saturday, November 6th, for a taste of Fine & Raw's Crystals and Himalayan Sea Salt...if you dare!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bar of the Week: Domori's Sambirano

If you're a fan of certain Chinese foods, you might want to try our new Bar of the Week:  Domori's Sambirano is known for its intriguing blend of sweet and sour notes.  This 70% dark chocolate uses an hybrid criollo-trinitario cacao grown in Madagascar's Sambriano Valley.  The intense but agreeable sweet-sour flavor of this chocolate also has hints of berries, cashews, pepper and cinnamon, and a long finish.

Come by on Saturday, October 23rd, for a taste of Domori's Sambirano. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Bar of the Week: Cluizel's Villa Gracinda

Our Bar of the Week is Michel Cluizel's Vila Gracinda, a 67% dark chocolate named for the plantation on which the cacao was grown.  Vila Gracinda is located on the equatorial island of São Tomé, off the coast of west Africa, where the rich volcanic soil and marine climate have supported cocoa plantations since the early 19th century.  Dried in the sun, these beans maintain their complex aromas and give this chocolate notes of spice and herbs, liquorice and tropical fruit. 
Come by on Saturday, October 16th, for a taste of this exotic and historic chocolate.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

We're Coming Soon to Bellevue

We're very excited to announce that we're opening a seasonal store at The Bravern in Bellevue at the end of October. We'll be in suite 192, right next door to Wild Ginger, across from Vovito Cafe and down a few doors from Anthropologie. I highly recommend stopping by for chocolate after you've enjoyed the happy hours at Wild Ginger and John Howie Steakhouse.

We can't provide a specific date yet, but it will be towards the end of October. We'll know more once the cabinet maker finishes fabricating our shelves and we start to stock the store with chocolate. Watch our Twitter account (@chocolopolis) for updates on the build-out with photos. We'll announce the date there.

Below is the official press release. I hope we'll see you there!

Happy chocolate eating,

Chocolopolis Opens Seasonal Store at The Shops at The Bravern

BELLEVUE, WASH. (September 29, 2010) – Since July 2008, Chocolopolis has been satisfying chocolate cravings and educating Seattle about fine artisan chocolate. In October, they will expand their operations to the east side of Lake Washington to open their second store at The Shops at The Bravern. 

Located adjacent to Wild Ginger, Chocolopolis will treat guests to a world of chocolate they may not have known before. Chocolopolis is dedicated to helping customers discover the world of fine artisan chocolate through their selection of over 200 bars of chocolate from more than 20 countries, one of the largest selections of chocolate in the country. Much like a wine store, their chocolate bars are arranged by the geographic origin of the cacao.  They also offer truffles and other wonderful chocolate creations from world-renowned chocolatiers.  For those interested in learning more through tasting, they invite guests to come in and discover the world of chocolate at their free chocolate happy hours, featuring rotating samples from an array of cacao origins and chocolate makers.

 “We are very excited to be a part of The Bravern because of the wonderful community they’ve created. It’s not just a shopping center, it’s a center of business and technology, a place to live, a spot for fine dining and the best address for fashion in the region”, says Chocolopolis founder Lauren Adler. “The Bravern is the perfect location for us to introduce the world’s finest artisan chocolate makers and chocolatiers to the Eastside. We also know that our existing Eastside customers will be thrilled that Chocolopolis will be so conveniently located on their side of the lake.”


Tami Elwin
About The Bravern
The Bravern is a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly outdoor village at the gateway to downtown Bellevue, Washington. Completed in 2009 by Schnitzer West, LLC, the mixed-use development encompasses The Shops at The Bravern with fashion retail, lifestyle services and premier restaurants anchored by Neiman Marcus; The Bravern Signature Residences in two elegant towers; The Bravern Office Commons featuring two towers fully leased to Microsoft; and abundant parking. For more information, call (425) 456-8780 or visit the web site at You will also find The Shops at The Bravern on Facebook and may follow on Twitter @bravern.

About Schnitzer West LLC
Schnitzer West LLC is one of the West Coast’s fastest growing real estate investment, development and property management companies.  Founded in 1997 by managing investment partner Dan Ivanoff of Seattle and Schnitzer Investment Corp of Portland, the company has built a successful track record in the commercial and multi-family housing markets through product innovation, disciplined management and investment expertise. Known for its commitment to “Outperform The Expected,” Schnitzer West has earned recognition for creating innovative workplaces and living spaces, for delivering superior-to-market returns and for its value-creation approach to property management.  To date, it has developed and delivered in excess of 5.1 million square feet of Class-A office and suburban office, flex, industrial and bio-tech space; 305,000 square feet of upscale retail and more than 1,250 luxury multi-family apartment and condominium units in the Seattle and Portland markets.  Additionally, it has acquired and repositioned approximately 1.0 million square feet of commercial product.  Currently, its Asset Operations group actively manages 5.5 million square feet of office, retail, industrial and bio-tech property for a variety of clients. Building on its success in the Northwest, Schnitzer West owns additional properties in Denver and is exploring new market opportunities across the Western United States. Learn more at 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bar of the Week: Coppeneur's Hacienda Iara

Most of the world's cacao is a hearty, adaptable variety known as Forestero.  While less-prevalent Trinitario and Criollo cacaos are generally considered finer and more flavorful, there are also some very fine Foresteros out there. Arriba Nacional is a subspecies of Ecudaorian Forestero known for its robust but nuanced flavor.

Our Bar of the Week puts Arriba Nacional on a well-deserved pedestal.  A 72% dark chocolate from German maker Coppeneur, Hacienda Iara has a tangy personality with bright jasmine overtones balanced by mellow notes of roasted nuts.  Hacienda Iara is EU-certified organic and contains just three ingredients: cacao, sugar and cocoa butter.

We will be offering samples of Coppeneur's Hacienda Iara on Saturday, October 9th.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bar of the Week: Michel Cluizel's Grand Lait

When customers ask about the difference between "single-origin" and "blend" chocolate, I usually explain that a single-origin takes advantage of a particular cacao's unique qualities, while a blend starts with a particular chocolate maker's unique vision.  With an "ideal" chocolate in mind, the chocolate maker can pick and choose different cacao, mixing and adding to achieve the desired effect. 

Case in point, the Grand Lait bar from Michel Cluizel, our current Bar of the Week.  This incredibly smooth milk chocolate contains 45% cacao and features rich, creamy notes of hazelnut and caramel.  If you've been disappointed by weak or cloying milk chocolates, this is definitely one to try. 

Stop by on Saturday, October 2nd, for a sample of Cluizel's Grand Lait. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bar of the Week: Madecasse's 67%

This bar of the week is a taste-good, feel-good combo.  Madecasse was founded by two former Peace Corps volunteers who leveraged their experience in Madagascar to start a chocolate company that trades directly with rural farmers.  Even more unusual, Madecasse chocolate is made in Madagascar itself; as Madecasse's website notes, "85% of the world’s cocoa comes from Africa. less than 1% of chocolate is made there."  By basing their operations in Madagascar, Madecasse ensures that more of its profits stay in the country.  Although Madecasse isn't certified "fair trade", the company estimates that localized manufacturing has even more benefits for its farmers than would certification alone.  

And how does it taste?  The 67% bar is characterized as "mellow and subtle," a toned-down take on the fruity notes of raspberry, cranberry and cherry that you'd expect from Madgascar chocolate. Other ingredients include the emulsifier soy lecithin, and a hint of vanilla.  

We'll be sampling Madecasse's 67% on Saturday, September 25.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bar of the Week: Domori's Sur del Lago

We're on a Domori roll this week with another featured bar from the Italian chocolate maker.  This time it's the Sur del Lago, a 70% dark chocolate made from Venezuelan cacao grown south of Lake Maracaibo.  It's a smooth, rich, well-rounded chocolate with notes of almonds and coffee, and a subtle smokiness

Stop by on Saturday, September 18th, for a taste of Domori's Sur del Lago. 

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Bar of the Week: Domori's Rio Caribe

This 70% dark chocolate from Italian maker Domori uses premium cacao from a single estate in Venezuela.  The Rio Caribe bar is intense but well balanced, with fruity notes and hints of tobacco, nuts, and spice.  Come by on Saturday, September 11th, for a taste of Domori's Rio Caribe. 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bar of the Week: Pacari's Esmeraldas

While the vast majority of cacao originates close to the equator, the vast majority of chocolate manufacturers are based thousands of miles from the farms and plantations where their raw material is grown.  Pacari is one of the exceptions to that rule.

Quito-based Pacari produces chocolate from cacao grown in Ecuador by independant small farmers, which means that more of the chocolate-making profits stay in the country.  Pacari's chocolate is also certified organic and kosher. 

Pacari's single-region Esmeraldas bar is a 60% dark chocolate made from Arriba Nacional cacao.   In addition to cocoa solids and sugar it contains some additional cocoa butter and sunflower-derived lecithin as an emulsifier, but is dairy- and soy-free.  This fruity and floral chocolate has particular notes of banana and honey and a long finish. 

We'll be offering samples of Pacari's Esmeraldas on Saturday, September 4th.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Bar of the Week: Michel Cluizel's Maralumi

Our tasting trip through Southeast Asia continues with Cluizel's Maralumi bar, a 64% dark chocolate named for the Papua New Guinean plantation on which the beans were grown.  Most tasters tend to pick up on notes of fresh and dried fruits, spice and smoke.  Cluizel's copywriters go a little further, describing the bar as mellow, with "slightly roasted and spicy flavors, fresh notes of green bananas and adiculated flavours of red currants prolonged by charming aromas of Havana tobacco leaves." 

Which charming notes will you detect?  Come by on Saturday, August 28th, to sample Cluizel's Maralumi--and let us know what you think!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bar of the Week: Askinosie's Davao

Our bar of the week is the dark Davao from Missouri-based Askinosie Chocolate.   Made from trinitario cacao grown in the Philippines, this 77% dark chocolate is the first Filipino single-origin bar.  It's yet another chocolate milestone from the trailblazers at Askinosie! 

By looking up the "choc-o-lot" number stamped on each bar on the Askinosie website, you can learn more about the timeline and formulation of a particular bar.  Askinosie constantly tinkers with its formulas to achieve a consistent product based on inconsistent natural ingredients. In the spirit of full disclosure, Askinosie notes that the current batch of 77% Davao includes 1% of cocoa butter made from the same Davao beans; the other 23% is organic sugar.  

Each Askinosie wrapper is adorned with a photo of the lead farmer responsible for the cacao inside.  The Davao bar features the smiling face of Peter Cruz.  These personal touches are a nod to Askinosie's close and direct relationship with the farming communities that grow its cacao. 

The Davao bar has won rave reviews, with tasters hailing its intensity and richness, and some comparing its fruity depths to those present in a well-aged red wine. 

Stop by for a sample of Askinosie's Davao on Saturday August 21st. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Bar of the Week: Amano's Jembrana

Since Seattle is not getting much of a summer this year, we're sending our taste buds on vacation with a month-long celebration of chocolate from Southeast Asian origins.  Our current Bar of the Week is Amano's Jembrana, a 70% dark chocolate made from beans grown in Bali.  Jembrana boasts a rich but subtle chocolate flavor with soft notes of honey and fig.
Amano is an artisan chocolate maker located in Salt Lake City ("One of the highest-altitude chocolate manufacturers in the world!").  Amano chocolates are kosher-certified and although the company has not sought fair trade certification, it does pay its farmers well above markets rates for cacao. 

We'll be offering samples of Amano's Jembrana on Saturday, August 14th.  Come join us in virtual Bali!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Bar of the Week: Pralus' Melissa

Our next Bar of the Week is Pralus' Melissa, chosen by Roxanne.  Melissa is a 45% milk chocolate made from cacao grown in Indonesia, where fresh cacao beans are often dried over fires.  It has the creamy texture you'd expect of either a good milk chocolate or a typical Pralus bar, along with an intriguingly smoky sweetness and aromatic notes of vanilla and caramel. 

Come by on Saturday, August 7th, for a taste of Pralus' Melissa. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bar of the Week: Pralus' Cuba

The final Bar of the Week for our anniversary month is Emily's favorite, the Pralus' Cuba.  This 75% dark chocolate has Pralus' usual heavily-roasted sweetness, with subtle, exotic notes of spice, pepper, and licorice.  Stop in for a sample on Saturday, July 31st. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What a Ride it's Been!

Chocolopolis May 2008
Two years ago I opened Chocolopolis. It was July of 2008, and while the economy had been struggling for awhile, the biggest hit was yet to come. Winter is the time for heavy chocolate consumption, not summer, yet we had a very good July and August in 2008. I don't know if it was the economy or the "wow" factor of being a new business with a cool concept, but our sales were better than I'd expected. I remember thinking, "If business is this good in July and August, can you imagine what September will be like?" We got to September and the stock market tanked. Cue the crickets.

It was a tough first year. We were trying to teach people about artisan chocolate and educate their palates in a very poor economy. Looking back I remember nights of little sleep and many tears. My wonderful husband, Mark Kotzer, kept me sane with optimistic reminders of why I would succeed. In my heart I knew I'd succeed because I always work hard and smart, and I don't doubt my ability to make things work. But it was really tough.

Two years later the sleepless nights and tears are gone. My days are still filled with a lot of hard work, but my job is a lot more fun now. We have many wonderful, loyal customers who have learned about artisan chocolate and come in to chat about their favorite bar, their children or their grandchildren. We've built a reputation around the country for being one of a handful of chocolate retailers that really understand artisan bean-to-bar chocolate. We've got an incredible team working at the store, all of whom are passionate about chocolate and enjoy working with our customers. I'm lucky to have such incredible employees!

One of the absolute best parts of this job is getting to talk to some of the most talented chocolate makers and chocolatiers in the world on a regular basis. I feel like I have a red line phone to Alan McClure of Patric Chocolate and Colin Gasko of Rogue Chocolatier. It's really great talking to these guys, and what I don't hear from one of them directly, I hear from the other. They're incredibly passionate about chocolate, and they're really talented artisans who are both friends and competitors. I've also learned from other artisan chocolate makers like Art Pollard of Amano and Shawn Askinosie. All of these chocolate makers are sources of so much information when it comes to the many interesting topics around fine cacao such as bean genetics, fermentation and drying techniques and cacao sourcing. I'll be talking with all of them in the near future for some upcoming blog posts on these issues.

I also have to thank Christopher Elbow, a world class chocolatier who took our word that we'd treat his confections right and agreed to let us sell these tasty gems on our truffle counter. Chris has been an incredible supporter, making us the only store in Washington state that sells his chocolates, and coming to Seattle to meet our customers in our first year. It's been a pleasure working with Chris and his team, who are incredibly supportive and down-to-earth, and who really care about producing excellent chocolates.

I've also enjoyed getting to know some of the other retailers around the country who are equally geeky about chocolate. Who are they? Seneca Klassen of Bittersweet Cafe in San Francisco, Biaggio Abbatiello and his team from Biaggio Chocolate in DC (my hometown!), Jesse Manis and Aubrey Lindley of Cacao: Drink Chocolate in Portland, and Jack from Chocolate Covered in the Noe Valley neighborhood of San Francisco. These guys are all incredibly interesting characters (particularly Jack), and they're passionate about their chocolate.  I look forward to visiting Seneca, who is leaving the Bay Area for Hawaii, where he'll tend his own grove of cacao trees full time. He's taking the plunge into cacao growing and chocolate making. I admire his willingness and fortitude in being able to follow his passion to the root of the cacao tree! If you'd like to follow Seneca's journey, check out his blog or follow his progress on twitter.

Most importantly, I'd like to thank our customers. True to Seattle's reputation, you have proven yourselves to be engaged and interested customers who want to learn about chocolate from farm to bar. Chocolate makers who conduct tastings at Chocolopolis are always impressed by how many of you want to hear their story while trying their chocolate. You don't just eat samples and walk away. We're proud to have so many chocolate lovers in Seattle.

Thank you to everyone who has helped make our first two years a success! We made it!

Happy chocolate tasting,

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bar of the Week: Claudio Corallo's Sablé

This week we're featuring Julia's favorite bar, a unique chocolate from a unique chocolate maker.  Claudio Corallo is a cacao farmer and chocolate maker based on the island of Sao Tome, off the west coast of Africa.  Wishing to retain the full range of his cacao's natural flavors, Corallo skips conching--the high-temperature, high-pressure process that most chocolate makers used to refine the texture and flavor of their chocolate.  Despite this, Corallo's chocolate is silky-smooth and full of intense but balanced flavors. 

For the Sablé bar, Corallo concocts an 80% dark chocolate then adds in large grains of sugar towards the end of the manufacturing process so that they remain distinct, giving the bar its appealing "sandy" texture.  Initial flavors recall cool, dark, rich soil, with a sweet finish kicking in as the sugar slowly melts. 

Come by and try this extraordinary chocolate on Saturday, July 24th.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bar of the Week: Domori's Teyuna

Next up is Candace's favorite bar, the Teyuna from Domori, an Italian maker known for the impeccable texture of its chocolates.  The Teyuna bar is a 70% dark chocolate made from Colombian cacao.  The flavor is simple but seductive, with notes of honey and cashews and exactly the right amount of sweetness. 

We'll be offering samples of Domori's Teyuna on Saturday, July 17th.  Stop by to see what all the fuss is about!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Bar of the Week: Amano's Dos Rios

Since July is anniversary month at Chocolopolis, we've decided to feature staff favorites as our bars of the week. First up is Stacey, our Chocolatier. She chose Amano's Dos Rios bar as one of her favorites. Stacey liked this bar so much she made a truffle out of it! Here's what we had to say back in February when Dos Rios was the new bar on the block:

"From his base in the mountains outside Salt Lake City, Art Pollard of Amano Artisan Chocolate seeks out the cacao world's most eccentric and flamboyant beans, transforming them into chocolate that showcases their strong personalities.

"Amano's new Dos Rios bar is the product of a chance encounter and behind-the-scenes matchmaking. A friend in the industry came across a uniquely flavorful cacao while traveling in the Dominican Republic and immediately alerted Pollard, who adjusted his processing techniques to maximize the cacao's inherent flavors. The result is a strongly perfumed 70% chocolate with pronounced notes of bergamot, rose, and orange blossom, and a long floral finish. It's hard to believe that none of these flavors were added!

"Dos Rios is probably unlike anything you've tasted before."

Six months later, this chocolate is no longer a novelty, but remains one of our staff favorites.  Stop by for a sample on Saturday, July 10.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Aisles and aisles of chocolate

Close your eyes and imagine this. Five football fields full of cheese, olives, oils, sauces and chocolate. The Barefoot Contessa sitting at a booth radiating her warm smile and waiting to meet you, cupcakes in hand. Rick Bayless sauteing samples of his chicken in roasted garlic and chipotle tomato sauce and arranging them on a tortilla just for you.

This is how I spent last Sunday and Monday, sampling the latest creations of the world's culinary experts at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York. Open to retailers, distributors and importers, the Fancy Food Show is the trade show to the gourmet industry, and it's a sensory experience to behold. As a veteran, I expertly walked past the blue cheese, the spice-infused olives and the warm cupcakes and nibbled on many samples of chocolate. I hit chocolate saturation pretty quickly, but I soldiered on like a chocolate veteran.

While others might be taking photos with Rick Bayless, I was more excited to meet Francois Pralus, Marc Cluizel and Maricel Presilla, pillars of the world chocolate community. I came home with a camera full of photos of me with the chocolate glitterati, an album only a chocolate geek would appreciate.

Choco-celebrity meetings included an evening choctail reception at Michel Cluizel's boutique on Fifth Avenue with Michel Cluizel's son, Marc Cluizel, a great guy.

Stopping at Amano's booth for another taste of Art Pollard's newest single-origin bar from the famed Chuao cooperative. I promised Art we'd have the bar available for Amano's tasting event at Chocolopolis during our anniversary week so our customers can weigh in on this limited edition bar. Stop by Monday, July 13 between 4:30 and 6:30 to try some Amano chocolate!

Talking cacao with Francois Pralus at his booth on the France aisle as he loaded me up with samples of his fondue, giandujia and barre infernale (which really is infernal).

Meeting Santiago Peralta, the founder of Ecuadorian chocolate company, Pacari, and being interviewed by the Trade Office of Ecuador at his booth.

Finally meeting Shawn Askinosie and hearing about his upcoming trip to Tanzania with students of his Chocolate University. His Cocoa Honors students chose a village in Tanzania as the origin of cacao beans for Askinosie's next chocolate bar, and they raised money to fund the drilling of a deep-water well for the village.

Taste testing Joan Coukos' new line of milk chocolate confections for Chocolat Moderne and sharing a drink with her at a great, neighborhood Greek restaurant she's been frequenting for almost 20 years.

I've got so many stories from my NYC travels, I had to break this up into 3 posts. Next up, geeking out on chocolate at the Fine Chocolate Industry Association event before the Fancy Food Show.

Happy chocolate tasting,
Lauren Adler
Chief Chocophile

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bar of the Week: Patric's Madagascar with Nibs

We're celebrating our anniversary throughout the month of July by highlighting some of our own favorite bars.  First up, a 70% dark chocolate from Madagascar with added nibs by microbatch maker Patric:  "...a bar that is both refined and rustic, it is our most munchable and crunchable bar yet, while at the same time amplifying the delicious and complex chocolate flavor that you've come to expect from Patric Chocolate."

Come crunch on a sample on Saturday, July 3rd!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bar of the Week: Coppeneur's Ocumare with Chili and Cacao Nibs

The final featured bar for our "Inclusion Month" is Coppeneur's Ocumare with Chili and Cacao Nibs.  Coppeneur takes its inspiration from the Aztecs with this 72% dark chocolate made from Venezuelan criollo cacao grown in the Ocumare coastal region.  The chocolate's fruity and earthy notes are complemented by the carefully chosen inclusions; roasted nibs provide crunch and bursts of pleasant bitterness while the chili delivers a degree of warmth that Coppeneur calls "slightly provocative".

Come by to try Coppeneur's spicy Ocumare on Saturday, June 26th. 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bar of the Week: Amedei's Toscano Red

Our "Inclusion Month" continues--with a fruity twist.  Amedei's Toscano Red is mouthwatering bar from a renowned Italian maker that combines a fruity "extra dark" 70% blend with tiny pieces of strawberry, cherry, and raspberry. 

Stop by on Saturday, June 19th, for a taste of this rich, ripe treat!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bar of the Week: Claudio Corallo's Laranja

Our "Inclusion Month" continues with the classic combo of chocolate and orange taken to new heights of refinement. 

Claudio Corallo's Laranja bar features tiny pieces of crystallized orange peel embedded in Corallo's classic 75% dark chocolate.  As both a cacao farmer and a chocolate maker, Corallo creates meticulous chocolate from heirloom plants grown on the island of Sao Tome, off the west coast of Africa.  While the vast majority of makers subject their chocolate to a high temperature process known as "conching", Corallo chocolates are unconched, retaining the flavorful acids that would otherwise have been driven off by the heat.  The result is an earthy, complex chocolate that makes a wonderful base for bright citrus notes. 

Come by on Saturday, June 12th, to enjoy a taste of Claudio Corallo's Laranja.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bar of the Week: Theo's Fig Fennel & Almond

Throughout the month of June we'll be featuring "inclusion" bars--that is, chocolate bars with extra flavor or texture thanks to added nuts, fruit, salt, spices, and the like.   First up is the Fig, Fennel, & Almond bar from Seattle's own Theo Chocolate. 

This bar of 70% dark chocolate includes slivers of almond, pieces of sweet fig, and just a hint of cool, herbal fennel.  Like all of Theo's chocolates, it's certified organic and fairtrade, plus this particular bar is gluten free, soy free, dairy free, and vegan!  A great treat for those with restricted diets, and one that omnivores will enjoy as well. 

We'll be offering samples of Theo's Fig Fennel & Almond on Saturday, June 5th.  Stop by and take it for a spin!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bar of the Week: Coppeneur's Hacienda Iara

Our final bar of the week for "Ecuador Month" comes from German micro-batch maker Coppeneur.  The beans for the Hacienda Iara bars grow on an organic plantation that specializes in Ecuadorian Arriba Nacional cacao.  The bar is 72% dark chocolate and contains only cacao, sugar, and cocoa butter, setting the stage for intense flavors of fruit, tropical flowers, and roasted nuts. Join us on Saturday, May 29th, to try Coppeneur's Hacienda Iara. 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bar of the Week: Valrhona's Alpaco

On Saturday, May 23, we'll be offering samples of Valrhona's Alpaco, a 66% dark chocolate made from Ecuadorian Arriba cacao.  Expect delicate notes of jasmine and orange blossom grounded by a "stately" chocolate base.

Our house-made Ecuadorian truffle is also made using Valrhona Alpaco, and, for the month of May, we're offering Alpaco drinking chocolate.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Bar of the Week: Pacari's Manabi

Our "Ecuador Month" continues with the Manabi bar from Quito-based Pacari Chocolate.  Pacari is a family-owned company that partners with small farms to produce certified organic and kosher chocolate using Arriba Nacional cacao.   The Manabi bar is 65% dark chocolate with assertive notes of nuts and citrus and a long finish. 

We'll be offering samples of Pacari's Manabi on Saturday, May 15th.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Bar of the Week: Republica del Cacao's El Oro

Our "Ecuador Month" continues with the El Oro bar from Republica del Cacao.  Among biodiverse Ecuador's many treasures is the Arriba cacao bean, a strain noted (and named) for its remarkable aroma.  Begun in 2004, Republica del Cacao aims to preserve and develop the Arriba bean and Ecuador's historic cacao industry. Through extensive research the company was able to identify three regions that produce outstanding cacao.  They've since partnered with small farmers in those areas to improve planting, harvesting, collection, and fermentation techniques. 
Depending on the region where it is grown, Arriba can develop a range of different flavor profiles.  Of Republica's range of region-specific bars, the El Oro is distinctly delicate and aromantic, with floral and fruity notes and a faintly roasted undertone. 

Come by on Saturday for a taste of El Oro!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Bar of the Week: Askinosie's San Jose Del Tambo

We're kicking off Ecuador Month with Askinosie's San Jose Del Tambo bar, a 70% dark chocolate made from Ecuadorian Ariba beans.

Missouri-based Shawn Askinosie is a former criminal defense lawyer with a unique and uncompromising approach to making chocolate.  He eschews vanilla and emulsifiers, using organic cane sugar, goat milk, and cocoa butter pressed from the same cacao that goes into each bar. While not certified either fairtrade or organic, Askinosie works closely with farmers and discourages the use of pesticides.  The company only buys beans from farmers (not from brokers), pays above market prices, and has instituted a program through which a portion of profits are returned to individual farmers. 

For the choco-curious, Askinosie's products offer a lot of fascinating extras.  Each bar is stamped with a "Choc-o-lot" batch number; enter it into the website to get a dated synopsis of all of the steps that go into making a particular bar.  Each Askinosie bar's wrapper is also decorated with the photograph of a farmer who grew the cacao. The San Jose Del Tambo bar features Vitaliano Saravia, the lead farmer of this 200-year-old plantation in the Andean foothills.

Stop by on Saturday, May 1st, to sample some of this deliciously ethical dark chocolate.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bar of the Week: Michel Cluizel's Concepcion

This week we're wrapping up "Venezuela Month" with the Concepcion bar from Michel Cluizel.   

This "single estate" bar is made entirely from Caranero beans grown on the Concepcion plantation east of Caracas, where cacao has been processed the same way since 1902.  It's a 66% dark chocolate with a rich and complex flavor.  Cluizel's write-up describes top notes of "vanilla, honey spice cake, and caramel" with undertones of "mixed dried and black fruits".

Stop by on April 24th to taste Cluizel's Concepcion, and please keep in mind that even though Venezuela Month is ended, we'll continue to have plenty of great Venezuelan chocolates in stock!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bar of the Week: Domori's Porcelana

Our Venezuela Month continues with Domori's Porcelana bar, which many tasters consider to be the brand's best offering.  Porcelana is a rare heirloom variety of criollo that produces distinctive white pods and a delicately complex flavor.  Domori's label describes "notes of bread, butter and preserve" while a common thread among reviews is a simple but utterly satisfying sweetness that calls to mind strawberries, caramel, or honey.  The flavors are supported by Domori's characteristically creamy texture. 

Come by on Saturday, April 17th for a taste of Domori's Porcelana.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The "Perfect" Cookie?

If this mixed-up weather is getting you down, why not take advantage of it?  While it's still chilly but before summer swoops in, this is the perfect time to crank up the oven for a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies. 

Here at Chocolopolis we've been revisiting a 2008 New York Times article about the best chocolate chip cookies in NYC.  The accompanying recipe comes from star chocolatier Jacques Torres, who suggests skipping chips in favor of larger chocolate disks or fèves.

Fresh out of high quality fèves?  We know where you can find some!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Bar of the Week: Amedei's Chuao

Throughout the month of April, we'll be highlighting chocolate made from Venezuelan cacao.  This week we're featuring the Chuao bar from Amedei, a 70% dark chocolate with an intense flavor and a fascinating backstory.

Writing in Food&Wine, Pete Wells tells the story of how this bar brought fame to a small Italian firm run by brother and sister, Alessio and Cecilia Tessieri. Following in their parents' footsteps, the Tessieri siblings began as confectioners, using pre-made chocolate couverture rather than raw cacao.  Their focus shifted after a visit to the French choclate maker Valrhona, where the Tessieris were denied access to the company's best products on the grounds that, "...Italy wasn't evolved enough to appreciate such extraordinary chocolate." 

From that moment, the Italian David resolved to cut the French Goliath off at the knees.  Cecilia immersed herself in learning to make artisanal chocolate while Alessio set off to find the world's finest cacao.   His quest took him to Venezuela's Chuao region, where ideal growing conditions make for amazing cacao--but in relatively small quantities.  For years, most of Chuao's output had been sold to Valrhona.  By offering above-market prices, Alessio secured the region's cacao for Amedei instead.
Most chocolate lovers say that the final product was worth all that trouble.  Will you agree?  Join us on Saturday, April 10th, for a taste of Amedei's Chuao bar. 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bar of the Week: Coppeneur's Habanero and Lavender

Maybe you're just now recovering from sampling the "Do Not Eat This Chocolate" bar two weeks ago, or perhaps your hunger for spicy chocolate is still raging.  Either way, consider stopping in for a taste of the Habanero and Lavender inclusion bar from German chocolate maker, Coppeneur. 

The base of this bar is a 72% dark chocolate made with single-origin Trinitario beans from Trinidad.  The interplay of the ingredients gives it an amazing aroma, the earthiness of the chocolate mingling with the warmth of the peppers and the cool, soothing scent of lavender.  And the taste?  More levels than a Ballard condo!  The chocolate itself is complex and has time to unfold before the lavender blooms and, finally, fades into the habanero kick.

Intrigued?  Come by on Saturday, March 27th, to try Coppeneur's Habanero and Lavender.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bar of the Week: Olive and Sinclair's 75% Dark

We're very excited to introduce you to Olive and Sinclair, a new bean-to-bar maker based in Nashville, TN.  A video on their blog gives a great idea of both the hard work and the magic that O&S's two young chocolate-makers put into their "Southern Artisan" chocolate.  Stone-grinding leaves their products with an appealingly rustic texture, while brown sugar lends a deep, lingering sweetness.

Their 75% bar is what they call "dual origin"--that is, it combines from Ghana and the Dominican Republic.  Join us on Saturday, March 20th, for a taste of Olive and Sinclair's 75%!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Bar of the Week: Lillie Belle's "Do Not Eat This Chocolate" Bar

The new bar from Oregon chocolatier Lille Belle Farms starts out as a normal-enough blend of organic milk and dark chocolates.  Then come the spices.  These include aji amarillos, arbole, and the legendary ghost chili--all administered with a heavy hand.  The final product has more than enough attitude to justify the "death metal" wrapper.

From the label:  "There is no reason for this bar to exist except that there is a large population of people who enjoy the searing heat of chile's in their chocolate and like it so over the top that they hurt.  Fine.  We can do that."

This is not a chocolate for delicate palates or ambivalent opinions.  Reactions so far have ranged from "wow!" to "ow!".  What will you think?  Join us on Saturday for a sample of Lillie Belle's "Do Not Eat This Chocolate" Bar.  We'll have water handy.