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.

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