Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Chocolate Pairings for New Years

I often get questions about pairing chocolate with wine and other liquors. Actually, more often than not, it's a question about pairing red wine with chocolate. While red wine can be paired with chocolate, it can be a challenge.

The advice I give my customers is to pick wines and chocolates that have similar flavor profiles. If you have a wine with strong red fruit and citrus notes, then a chocolate made with cacao from Madagascar might be just the ticket. But if your wine doesn't have red fruit and citrus notes, it's probably not going to pair well with chocolate from Madagascar.

One of my new year's resolutions is to try red wine with chocolate more often so I can provide better guidance to customers who would like to pair these two treats. I thought for New Year's I'd provide some of my favorite liquor and chocolate pairings.

Single Malt Scotch and Chocolate
One of my favorite pairings with chocolate is single-malt Scotch. Make sure to choose a Scotch that isn’t too smoky or peaty. Some suggestions:

Port and Chocolate
My husband and I went to the Douro Valley in Portugal during harvest season for our honeymoon. We had the opportunity to "tread" grapes with the locals, and I got to know and love Port well.

One of my favorite treats is chocolate with a glass of colheita Port (a tawny that's been barrel aged since harvest). It's not a treat I can afford often, so my sips come only once in awhile. If you’re looking for a special Port for New Year’s, try a Quinta do Noval Tawny Colheita. The richness of an aged colheita is an incredible experience with any fine chocolate.
Anise Ganache Fig

If you’d prefer to pair a vintage, late bottle vintage or ruby Port with chocolate, our award-winning Anise Ganache Filled Figs are a fantastic option. We stuff black mission figs with a chocolate truffle that's been lightly infused with anise, and then we dip the whole thing in chocolate. Our figs won Judges Choice for Best Confection at the NW Chocolate Festival. We made a few too many last week, so we've put them on sale for $1 this week, while supplies last. It's not likely you'll see such a bargain on our figs again.

Quinta do Noval is hard to find in Seattle, but those of you in other major cities should have no problem. If you're in Seattle, try The Spanish Table or Wine World. They're your best bets for a good selection of Port.

Champagne and Chocolate
The acid qualities of champagne and sparkling wines can make them tough to pair with chocolate. Chocolate dipped fruits like our apricots or pears are the perfect complement to a glass of bubbly. We dip dried California apricots and Extra Fancy Pears in Valrhona dark chocolate made with cacao from Africa. Delicious and elegant-looking, our pears and apricots are sure to be a hit on your New Year’s table!

I don't know much at all about Armagnac, but I do know it pairs well with chocolate. Our friends, Dawn and Eric Wright, shared some with my husband and I shortly before I opened Chocolopolis, and it really was a treat. If your budget permits, I highly recommend it.

May your 2012 be filled with health, happiness and fantastic chocolate!


Chief Chocophile

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bar of the Week: Patric's PBJ OMG

Our very last bar of the week of  2011 is a real doozy:  imagine the peanut-butter and jelly sandwich of childhood dreams dunked in dark chocolate and you'll have an idea of Patric's PBJ OMG.  The Missouri-based small-batch chocolate maker blends sea salt and peanut butter into a dark chocolate whose naturally fruitiness stands in for jelly.  The resulting bar is smooth, rich, and juicy--pair with a tall glass of milk for the perfect after-school snack, even if you graduated a few decades ago!

Since this nostalgic treat is one of Patric's seasonal specials (only available through Valentine's Day), make sure to stop by on Saturday, December 31st, for a taste; we'll be open until 5pm. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Bar of the Week: Valrhona's Palmira

Prepare yourself to say hello and goodbye to our new bar of the week, Valrhona's Palmira.  Made from criollo cacao grown on the Palmira plantation in west Venezuela, this 64% dark chocolate features notes of high-pectin fruits such as apple and quince, underlined by a pronounced honeyed sweetness that lingers for a long finish.

Valrhona has announced that it is discontinuing this delectable bar, so quantities are limited and once they're gone, they're gone for good.  If you haven't yet tried Palmira, don't miss this chance to get acquainted.  And if Palmira is one of your favorites, you might consider stocking up (consider that properly stored dark chocolate will keep indefinitely.  

Stop by on Christmas Eve to savor a sample of Valrhona's Palmira--and of course, to pick up any last-minute treats or gifts for the chocolate lovers on your list. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bar of the Week: Grenada 71%

Send your tastebuds south for the winter with our new bar of the week.  Grenada Chocolate Company's 71% dark chocolate is a tropical treat with an effervescent acidity that reminds many tasters of fresh, ripe pineapple.  Grenada Chocolate Company is a cooperative chocolate maker owned by its cacao-farming shareholders.  The cacao and other ingredients are organic and the factory runs on solar energy. 

Come by on Saturday, December 17th, to have a taste of Grenada 71% and pick up great gifts for everyone on your holiday shopping list. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gifts for Your Entire List

Having trouble finding the perfect gift? We've got a gift for every person on your holiday list, including the person who has everything.

For the Person Who Has Everything...
Chocolate Tasting Party in a Box
...we recommend our Chocolate Tasting Party in a Box. Filled with some of the best single-origin chocolate the world has to offer, it’s a chocolate tasting experience in a box! Featured in Zagat’s Holiday Gift Guide, it includes 6 artisan chocolate bars from different countries, chocolate-covered cacao beans, cacao nibs, instructions for hosting a chocolate tasting party, a Chocolopolis Flavor Wheel and sheets for up to 10 participants to record tasting notes. If you’re good, maybe you’ll be invited to the party.

Chocolopolis Mint Meltaways
The Chocoholic
When one box of chocolates isn’t enough, we’re here to help. Chocolopolis is packed to the rafters with artisan chocolate of every kind to suit the Chocoholic. Whether your favorite chocoholic prefers bars or confections, we have something they’ll enjoy. Gifts that will sate their cravings include our ½ pound box of Peppermint Bark, our 15-piece box of Chocolopolis Mint Meltaways, our 19-piece assorted truffle box or any of the 200 artisan chocolate bars on our shelves.

The Chocolate Connoisseur
Know someone who sniffs their chocolate before eating it? Then you have a Chocolate Connoisseur in your life.  Let us take the fear out of purchasing chocolate for the connoisseur. We’ve put our taste buds and palates to work creating the perfect gift for the connoisseur, our Chocolate of the Month World Tour. Each month brings a new delivery of artisan, single-origin chocolate to the Chocolate Connoisseur’s door. What’s more, we encourage them to sniff their chocolate as much as they’d like. They’ll think of you every month when their package arrives, and they’ll happily sniff away in privacy. Chocolate of the Month World Tour comes in 3-month and 6-month packages. There are three levels, Beginner, Advanced and Connoisseur. The levels are appropriate for any chocolate lover. The Advanced and Connoisseur levels were developed for returning Chocolate of the Month Club members who have already been through the first year.

The Foodie
Anise Ganache Fig
Do you know someone who is always in the know about the hottest new restaurants and food trucks? Impress them with your knowledge of the hottest new chocolate, our award-winning Anise Ganache Filled Figs. Made by hand in our chocolate kitchen, we stuff these delicious black mission figs with a chocolate truffle that has been lightly infused with a hint of anise, and then we dip each one in chocolate. Winner of the Judges Choice for Best Confection at the NW Chocolate Festival, these chubby chocolate figs will leave your favorite foodie craving more. Packaged in a box of 4.

The Perfect Hostess
Her day has been spent baking cookies, running errands, cleaning the kids, and putting the breakables away. You arrive at her house and it is filled with more people than it can hold, adults sipping wine and nibbling on sliced rosemary turkey breast, kids running up and down the stairs, not staying in the designated “kids” area. Yet she handles it all with aplomb, grace and a smile on her face. How do you say “Thank you” to the perfect hostess? With chocolate, of course! An elegant and delicious gift, she’ll appreciate a box of our Chocolate Dipped Extra Fancy White Peaches or our Chocolate Dipped Extra Fancy Pears. Each of these fruity confections is dipped in Valrhona dark chocolate. We marry the peaches with Valrhona Manjari, its tart red fruit and citrus notes pairing beautifully with the sweetness of the peach, and we top the pears with Valrhona Nyangbo chocolate, its chocolaty notes pairing perfectly with the pear. Peaches come five to a box and are packaged in a clear rectangular box. Pears come six to a box and are packaged in a clear round box.

Clients and Colleagues
Chocolate Filled Sleigh
Thank your clients and colleagues with chocolate gifts to share. From our 19-piece assorted truffle box to our selection of chocolate treats from around the world, we have plenty of choices to tempt an entire office. Choose from boxes of Recchiuti’s Cherries Two Ways or boxes of Mademoiselle de Margaux Mint Twigs. Need chocolate nibbles for an entire office? Let us put a selection of treats in a gift basket that will leave an impression on clients and colleagues and keep them nibbling chocolate until the holidays.

Peppermint Marshmallow
Kids and kids at heart will love our Peppermint and Gingerbread marshmallows. Made with candy canes, our Peppermint Marshmallows are cut into circles, dipped in chocolate, topped with pieces of candy cane, and wrapped to look like a peppermint candy. Our Gingerbread Marshmallows are made with ginger and molasses, cut into the shape of gingerbread men, dipped in dark chocolate and decorated with faces in white chocolate. They’re adorable and addictive!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bar of the Week: Fine & Raw's 78%

From Brooklyn chocolate maker Fine & Raw, our bar of the week is a 78% dark chocolate with an extra kick.  The organic Ecuadorian cacao beans from which the bar is made are carefully processed at low temperatures, resulting in a chocolate that's rich, earthy, tantalizingly textured, and maintains more of the cacao's inherent nutrients and antioxidants.

Feeling like you might benefit from a healthy treat?  Come by for a sample of Fine & Raw's 78% bar on Saturday, December 10th.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bar of the Week: Domori's Teyuna

Our Bar of the Week is a longstanding favorite around the shop.  Made by Domori, an Italian maker known for the impeccable texture of its chocolates, the Teyuna bar is a 70% dark chocolate from Colombian cacao. The flavor is simple but seductive, with notes of honey and toasted cashews and exactly the right amount of sweetness.

We also know from experience that Teyuna's best qualities translate well to drinking chocolate; if you're already a Teyuna fan, keep in mind that for only $1.50 extra we can take this bar (or any other) and transform it into a hot, frothy, hand-warming treat. 

Stop by on Saturday, December 3rd, for a sample of Domori's Teyuna. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bar of the Week: Original Beans' Esmeraldas with Salt

What do you get when you combine a German conservation entrepreneur, a Dutch fair trade pioneer, and an American organic food marketer?  It sounds like the set-up for a bad joke, but it was actually the start of a great chocolate company.  Founded in 2006, Original Beans produces environmentally-friendly chocolate focused on conserving types of cacao that grow wild in the company's partner communities.  For every bar of  chocolate sold, Original Beans plants in a tree in those communities; a number on the package allows you to look up the tree associated with any of their bars.

Our bar of the week is Original Beans' Esmeraldas with Salt, a 42% Ecuadorian milk chocolate made from indigenous Arriba cacao rather than the more prevalent industrial hybrid.  Mixed with just a hint of fleur de sel, this bar is velvety-smooth and every bit as a rich as a butter caramel.

We'll be offering samples of Original Beans' Esmeraldas salt salt on Saturday, November 26th. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bar of the Week: Madecasse 63%

Hungry for a chocolate that'll make you feel as good as it tastes?  Then give one our Madecasse bars a try!

The company 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 unusually, 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.

Our bar of week is Madecasse's "sweet & smooth" 63% bar, a rich-textured dark chocolate with a softened take on the notes of cherry and citrus so characteristic of Madagascar.  Come by for a sample on Saturday, November 19th.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chocolopolis + Kiva, Part 2

We just accumulated enough change in our unofficial tip jar to make another microloan through Kiva!   Last time we funded a fudge maker in Nicaragua; Juana used the loan to expand her production facilities and has already started to make repayments. 

This time we chose Elizabeth, a cacao farmer in Peru who will use her loan to buy more cacao plants. What could be more perfect?

If you're one of those who has told us to "keep the change," we hope that you'll approve of our choice.  Thanks so much for helping us to help others.

And go, Elizabeth, go!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bar of the Week: Valrhona's Tanariva

Milk chocolate lovers, we haven't forgotten about you!  Although we have a lot more dark chocolate than milk chocolate in the store, the milk chocolates we do carry hold up their side ably, with tons of personality in a creamy package.  Case in point, our bar of the week:  Valrhona's Tanariva. 

Tanariva is a 33% milk chocolate made from single-origin cacao grown in Madagascar.  The cherry and citrus notes typical of the region are present, but muffled by rich, warm layers of cream and caramel. 

Be sure to stop by on Saturday, November 12th for a melt-in-your-mouth taste of Valrhona's Tanariva. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bar of the Week: Patric's In-NIB-itable

If you're a fan of chocolates that bite back, be sure to come by and try Patric's In-NIB-itable, our current bar of the week.  Missouri-based small batch maker Patric combines zingy 70% Madagascan dark chocolate  with crushed, roasted nibs from the same origin.  The nibs add crunch and a pure hit of flavor to the smooth, refined chocolate, adding up to a two-layered texture and a double-pow taste.  

We'll have samples of Patric's In-NIB-itable available on Saturday, November 5th. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

What a Weekend!

Customers often ask me if Seattle is the leader in the artisan chocolate movement. While Seattle certainly has a vibrant artisan chocolate community and a lot of local pride, I've always felt there were other cities like San Francisco, Portland and Washington, DC, that deserved equal credit. Until this weekend.

I'm very proud to say that the Northwest Chocolate Festival, held last weekend at Seattle Center, has firmly established Seattle as a leader in the artisan chocolate movement. There are chocolate festivals held all around the country, so what makes this festival so unique and successful? Its focus on cacao and education.

Unlike most festivals, it's not just another feeding frenzy where attendees eat as much chocolate as they can without really getting to know the artisan. The Northwest Chocolate Festival educates chocolate lovers by putting them face-to-face with craft chocolate makers, not just for samples, but for interesting talks about how chocolate is made from the bean and what defines quality chocolate. You can learn about the magic of conching, taste the fruit of the cacao tree or meet an Ecuadorian cacao farmer, all while tasting great chocolate.

Admittedly, it was a bit of a hard sell at first. Craft and artisan chocolate makers are often on shoestring budgets with little money to travel across country for another chocolate festival that sounds like a feeding frenzy. The team that put together the Northwest Chocolate Festival did a great job convincing 19 craft and artisan chocolate makers to attend, many of them from places like North Carolina and Massachusetts. These artisans, all passionate about chocolate, filled up a room with tables offering samples of their chocolate. I looked into the room on Sunday afternoon, and there was a line snaking out of the room waiting to file by every table. Sales were so brisk that many of the artisans ran out of chocolate to sell.

But don't let me leave you thinking the festival was too serious. There was plenty of chocolate fun to be had as well. The Culinary Kitchen Stage offered great demos from local chocolatiers with plenty of samples to try as well as booths for purchasing local bonbons and confections. And the Aphrodisiac Room was, well, aphrodisiac, with chocolate body painting and wine and chocolate pairings, to name a few activities. There was something to enjoy for chocolate lovers of every ilk, be they chocoholics, chocophiles or just curious.

I'd like to thank the organizers, who did a fabulous job of putting this event together. Brian Cisneros, Brie Moulton, Kate Selting and your many staff volunteers and volunteers, great work! I'd also like to thank Seattle, for demonstrating to the world of chocolate what we've known all along, that Seattleites enjoy learning about their food as much as they enjoy eating it.

Happy chocolate tasting,
Lauren Adler
Chief Chocophile

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bar of the Week: Cluizel's Vila 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, November 5th, for a taste of this exotic and historic chocolate.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bar of the Week: Fine & Raw with Sea Salt

Brooklyn-based chocolate maker Fine & Raw 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 Sea Salt inclusion bar. 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, October 22nd, for a taste of Fine & Raw's Sea Salt bar...if you dare!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bar of the Week: Valrhona's Tainori

 If you're a fan of pain au chocolat, make sure to try this bar of the week. From French chocolate maker Valrhona, Tainori is a 64% dark chocolate made from single origin cacao grown on an historic plantation in the Dominican Republic. In addition to some fruity and nutty notes, Tainori's dominant flavor mimics the heady warmth of yeasted bread or pastry straight from the oven.

Come by and sample this toasty treat on Saturday, October 15.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bar of the Week: Santander 36%

If you're a coffee lover who has come to Chocolopolis in search of chocolate, odds are we've steered you towards Santander bars from the Colombia's Compania Nacional de Chocolates.  Throughout the range, Santander chocolates have a rich, roasty flavor that calls to mind espresso or hazelnuts.  Our bar of the week is what you might think of as the "cafe au lait" version, a sweet 36% milk chocolate that offers a milder and more caramelized take on Santander's usual flavor notes. 

Stop by on Saturday, October 8th, to try Santander's 36% milk chocolate.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bar of the Week: Valrhona Abinao

Our bar of the week is as intense, dark, and brooding as a French New Wave film star; you can almost imagine it breakfasting on cigarettes and coffee after a beat poetry all-nighter.  From French maker Valrhona, Abinao is an 85% dark chocolate made from African cacao.  It features a smooth, silky mouthfeel and meaty hints of raw coconut that sharpen into lingering, oaky tannins. 

Be sure to come by on Saturday, October 1, to try Valrhona's Abinao--especially if you've been up all night!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bar of the Week: Domori Arriba

The highly aromatic Arriba Nacional cacao bean is one of Ecuador's natural treasures.  Italian chocolate maker Domori has crafted that special cacao into our bar of the week, a mild but nuanced 70% dark chocolate made from single-origin beans.  Domori's Arriba bar is crisp and smooth, with flavor notes that might make it ideal for an indulgent breakfast:  perfectly-ripe banana, fresh citrus, and toasted hazelnuts. 

We'll be offering samples of Domori's Arriba on Saturday, September 24. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bar of the Week: Pralus' Dominican Repubic

Our bar of the week is the Republique Dominicaine from French chocolate maker Pralus.  A 75% dark chocolate is made from organic Dominican cacao, this silky smooth bar layers warm fruit flavors with intriguingly edgy notes of anise, wormwood, and tannin, which taper to a remarkably drawn-out finish.

Come by on Saturday, September 17, to savor a sample of Pralus' Republique Dominicain. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Bar of the Week: Fearless' Midnight

Fearless takes a fun approach to serious chocolate.  The California-based company carefully processes its organic cacao at low temperatures, preserving more of its inherent nutrients and qualifying Fearless chocolates for "raw" status. The bars come in an elephant-adorned wrapper and with a bite already taken out, representing the 1% of its annual profits that Fearless donates to causes nominated by its customers.  

Our bar of the week is the company's 75% Dark as Midnight bar, an unflavored showcase for the earthy depths of its raw, organic cacao. 

Swing by on September 10th for a taste of of Fearless' Dark as Midnight. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bar of the Week: Domori's Sambirano

If you're a fan of certain Chinese foods, you might want to try this 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.

Stop by on Saturday, September 3rd, for a sample of Domori's Sambirano.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

This week's happy hour: Staff Picks II

Our Staff Pick's happy hour is back this Thursday from 5-9pm. Our first Staff Picks happy hour in July was a huge hit, and we're excited to have different team members choosing bars this time around. Make an evening out of it by shopping at the Queen Anne Farmers Market, and then drop by Chocolopolis for a taste of chocolate. Here are our staff picks for this week:

Reina - Valrhona Palmira Single-Estate 2010 (64%)
Dominica - Coppeneur Trinidad Habanero & Lavender bar
Sebastian - Askinosie White Chocolate (made with goat's milk and small-batch pressed cocoa butter)
Lauren - Patric In-NIB-itable BAR (70% Madagascar w/Madagascar cacao nibs)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bar of the Week: Valrhona's Tainori

If you're a fan of pain au chocolat, make sure to try this bar of the week.  From French chocolate maker Valrhona, Tainori is a 64% dark chocolate made from single origin cacao grown on an historic plantation in the Dominican Republic.  In addition to some fruity and nutty notes, Tainori's dominant flavor mimics the heady warmth of yeasted bread or pastry straight from the oven.

Come by and sample this toasty treat on Saturday, August 27th.  

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bar of the Week: Olive and Sinclair's Salt and Pepper

You hear a lot about salt and chocolate; also about chocolate and peppers of the spicy variety.  But what about salt and good old black pepper?  That classic combo hasn't really shown up in chocolate bars...until now.

Nashville-based Olive and Sinclair is the South's first artisan bean-to-bar maker, specializing in stone-ground chocolate bars.  They have a knack for pairing their chocolates with match-made-in-heaven spices, such as our bar of the week, a richly textured 67% dark chocolate from Ghana sprinkled with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. 

Can't imagine taking the salt shaker and pepper mill to your own favorite chocolate?  Then be sure to stop by on Saturday, August 20th, to taste a chocolate that's at once strangely familiar and totally new.  

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bar of the Week: Pralus' Papouasie

Our bar of the week is a silky-smooth 75% dark made from Papua New Guinean cacao by French maker Francois Pralus.  Less smoky than the other Southeast Asian bars in Pralus' range, Papouasie has strong cocoa notes and a pronounced sweetness given added interest by hints of tart fruits. 

We'll have samples of Pralus' Papouasie available on Saturday, August 13th.  

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bar of the Week: Askinosie's Tanzanie

What do a model volcano, a colonial settlement diorama, and our current bar of the week have in common? 

They're all school projects. 

Askinosie's 72% dark chocolate Tenende bar was developed by students of the Chocolate University, aSpringfield, MO program that introduces high school students to the inner workings of socially responsible small business.  Generous sponsorship allowed thirteen Chocolate University students to travel to Tanzania, where they met face-to-face with Perce Kyeja, head of the UWATE group of cacao farmers.  The collaboration culminated in the Tenende bar and a wrapper featuring Kyeja's photo.
Tenende is a mild dark chocolate with notes of earth and herbs and a sweetness that recalls dried cherries.  Come try a sample on Saturday, August 6th. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Picking Our Favorite Chocolate

When customers ask, "What's your favorite bar?", it's always a difficult question to answer. Asking me to choose a favorite from our carefully curated selection is like asking me to choose my favorite child. While I certainly have some bars that I eat more often than others, I enjoy almost every bar in the store at some time or another. I say "almost every bar" because my palate is different than some of our other team members. One of our team members, Julia, has a wonderful palate for chocolate, and prefers the earthy and smoky bars much more than I do. She has some favorites that I don't like so much. They're still fantastic bars of chocolate, they just aren't as suited to my preferences.

I use the differences between me and Julia as an example of how we curate our collection. While I make the final buying decisions, I take into account the feedback of my team because they eat a lot of chocolate, they have great palates and they know what makes a quality bar of artisan bean-to-bar chocolate.

In honor of the many varied palates of the Chocolopolis team, this week's Thursday happy hour features staff picks! It's the first time we've done this, and the team is excited. Each of them has made a sign describing one of their favorite bars, and we'll have those signs and samples of the bars out during happy hour on Thursday from 5-9pm. Here's what they've picked:

Julia - Fine + Raw Sea Salt
Roxanne - Amedei Red
Jennifer - Michel Cluizel Mangaro (Madagascar)
Heaven - Bonnat Java Milk 65%

For our final week of our third anniversary celebration we've scheduled a bevy of great chocolate events in addition to our weekly happy hour. From smoked chocolate mousse, to a happy hour that features Staff Picks to a serious talk on cacao farming in Panama to a "Meet the Chocolate Maker" event, we have something fun for everyone.

Happy chocolate tasting,

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bar of the Week: Fresco's 213

Exceptional chocolate is created through a series of events.  Change any one event and the outcome is a new creation.  
                                             -Rob Anderson, Fresco Chocolate

This week we're featuring the 213 bar from Lynden,WA small-batch chocolate maker Fresco. Fresco's well-edited range of "prototype" bars are differentiated not just by cacao origins but also by processing particulars.

Just like Fresco's 212 bar, the 213 is a 72% dark chocolate made using single-origin cacao from the Dominican Republic. What sets the two siblings apart is the details of their manufacture: Fresco creates different chocolates out of the same cacao by adjusting the levels of roast and of conche (the process of smoothing out flavor and texture by subjecting liquid chocolate to high temperature and pressure). While the 212 has had a light roast and "subtle" conche, the 213 has had a heavy roast and no conche at all, and so conveys more strongly the cacao's natural notes of raisin and dried plum.

You can try Fresco 213 anytime on Saturday, July 30th, but if this post leaves you either curious or hungry, don't miss the opportunity to meet Fresco's founder, Rob Anderson, from 3-5pm. Rob will be offering more samples of his range and answering your questions about his unique take on chocolate making.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Bar of the Week: Chocolopolis' Dark Fruit, Nut & Sea Salt

This week, our bar of the week is truly ours; the Dark Fruit and Nut bar is one of the range of treats we make back in our very own kitchen.  A super-sized version of our traditional mendiants, this bar features a dream team of hazelnuts, dried cherries and blueberries, and vanilla-infused sea salt. held together by rich dark chocolate.  It's the perfect energy bar to take on hikes during our cold, damp summer!

Come by on Saturday, July 23rd to enjoy a taste of our Dark Fruit and Nut bar. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Christopher Elbow is Coming to Town!

Its the first week of our anniversary celebration and we've got a lot of exciting and chocolaty events on the calendar! Highlights this week include Taza Tuesday on 7/12 featuring samples of Taza's stone-ground, Mexican-style chocolate, and Bastille Day Happy Hour on Thursday 7/14 from 5-9pm featuring samples of French chocolate by makers such as Valrhona, Pralus and Cluizel.

We cap off the first week with a HUGE event! We're incredibly excited to have Christopher Elbow, the man himself, come to visit us during our anniversary celebration. Upon hearing Christopher would be hosting an event at Chocolopolis, one of our team members exclaimed, "It's like meeting Bobby Flay!" He'll be here this Saturday, July 16 from 1:30 to 4 with samples of his gem-like truffles for tasting. He'll be bringing 2 special varieties that he made just for the occasion.

Christopher's beautiful creations have graced our counter since we opened in 2008, and he's gained an incredibly loyal following among our customers. He'd love to meet loyal fans and newcomers alike. Stop by for a taste and a chat with Chris!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bar of the Week: Valrhona's Gran Couva

Our bar of the week is the Gran Couva from French chocolate maker Valrhona.  This 64% dark chocolate is made from Trinitario cacao grown on a single plantation in Trinidad.  Valrhona currently produces three such "chocolat de domaine" bars, each of which is labeled with a "vintage" year (our current stock is 2010).  By sampling one year's produce against another, you can gain new appreciation for annual variations in a specific cacao crop.  

Come by on Saturday, July 16th for a taste of Valrhona's Gran Couva. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Story of One Golden Ticket

During our annual anniversary celebration we hide three golden tickets among our collection of chocolate bars. Whoever finds these Golden Bars wins a free bar of chocolate every week for a year. One of last year's winners, Richard Vaughan, was so inspired by the experience he started a chocolate blog to chronicle his year of chocolate tasting. I asked Richard to tell the story of his experience. Here it is in his own words.
"Before last year I'd had good chocolate from Lindt and Green and Black's, but in 2010, Chocolopolis exposed my palate to great chocolate.  I attended five of their free chocolate tastings during anniversary week, and ending up buying 8 or 9 chocolate bars.  Artisan chocolate is expensive (at typically $6 to $10 for only a few ounces), so I savored each bar and ate them slowly, perhaps one per week.  As luck would have it, it took me until September before I opened the last of those bars to discover, to my astonishment and delight, one of the golden tickets! 

Realizing I would have the opportunity to try literally dozens of different chocolate bars, I decided to start a blog to keep track of my experiences as I tasted and reviewed this huge variety of chocolate.  The result was One Golden Ticket.  At first it was rather overwhelming, as I was new to the world of artisan chocolate.  I asked several of my chocolate-loving friends, and Lindy volunteered to help me with this project.  Over the past year, we've reviewed nearly 100 bars of chocolate, and in the process, we've learned about cacao beans, farming, regional origins, ingredients, production, and chocolate makers.  Chocolate is almost as complex as wine. 

If you love chocolate and have not yet experienced artisan chocolate makers, you owe yourself a trip to Chocolopolis.  It might feel overwhelming when you get there and see hundreds of different chocolate bars, but just ask one of the friendly staff there for help.  They can explain about different regions, typical flavors, and suggest bars based on your preferences.  To try some chocolate before buying, stop by their free Thursday evening "happy hour" chocolate tastings (5 to 9 p.m.).  Better yet, visit some of their events during anniversary week, and if you find some chocolate you especially like, buy a bar or two and you might just win a golden ticket as I did."

Richard Vaughan

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Eat Chocolate, Help us Celebrate our 3rd Anniversary!

It's our third anniversary! Help us celebrate by joining us for one of many delicious, free events scheduled throughout July.

Event highlights include a visit from award-winning chocolatier Christopher Elbow, expert talks on cacao farming in Panama and the controversial topic of slavery in West African cacao, chocolate demonstrations by Chocolopolis’ own talented chocolatiers, and a tasting with local up-and-coming chocolate maker Rob Anderson of Fresco Chocolate.

Up to three lucky chocolate lovers will win a year of free chocolate in our annual Golden Bar Giveaway contest.

Check out the full schedule, below, for details. We hope to see you at Chocolopolis!

Schedule and Description of Anniversary Events
Ongoing throughout the month:
Annual Golden Bar Giveaway
At Chocolopolis every bar is a treat--and a few are bona fide treasures.  During July, find one of three hidden golden bars and win a bar of chocolate every week for a year.  The first golden bar hits the shelves on July 11. The second golden bar will be hidden on July 18 and the final golden bar will be hidden on July 25. Please check our website for additional contest details (www.chocolopolis.com).

Daily schedule of events:
Saturday, July 9
11am – 5pm:  Queen Anne Sidewalk Sale
Chocolopolis kicks off its 3rd Anniversary celebration during the Queen Anne Sidewalk Sale. As you stroll the street in search of bargains, come by to cool off with a sample of iced drinking chocolate, re-charge with a Chocolopolis truffle for a special price of only $1, and pick up a schedule of free chocolate events happening throughout the month of July.

Tuesday, July 12
12pm-7pm: Taza Tuesday
If you like texture in your chocolate, you'll love Taza Chocolate's rustic, stone-ground approach. Stop by for a taste of a variety of Taza chocolate.

Thursday, July 14
5pm – 9pm:  Happy Hour:  Accent on French Chocolate
Do chocolate lovers observe Bastille Day?  Mais oui!  Feast your eyes on a documentary about lauded French chocolate maker Michel Cluizel (in both French and English) while enjoying samples of rich, creamy chocolate from French makers including Cluizel, Pralus, and Valrhona. 

Saturday, July 16
1:30pm-4pm:  Meet the Chocolatier: Christopher Elbow
Kansas City-based chocolatier Christopher Elbow makes jewel-like truffles and caramels that are “too beautiful to eat”--but too delicious not to!  These delectable chocolates have graced our truffle counter since we opened and have garnered many enthusiastic fans. Stop by to meet the artist himself, sample his confections and see why his devotees are so loyal! Christopher will be making some special chocolates just for the occasion. 

Tuesday, July 19
7pm – 9pm:  Focus on Chocolate: “Did a Slave Make My Chocolate Bar?”
Many of us want to know more about how our food is produced, but with cacao coming from near the equator, due diligence can be tough.  Dr. Kristy Leissle will share a rare glimpse into life and work on West African cacao farms, addressing the pressing question: “Did a Slave Make My Chocolate Bar?”

Wednesday, July 20
1pm-2pm:  Demonstration:  Tempering Chocolate
Ever wonder why that beautiful bar of chocolate you left on a sunny windowsill was never the same afterwards?  Chocolopolis’ own chocolatiers will discuss and demonstrate the intricate art of tempering--melting and cooling chocolate in exactly the right way so that it stays shiny and hard.  

Thursday, July 21
5pm-9pm:  Happy Hour:  Handmade by Chocolopolis
They say good things come in small packages, and the Chocolopolis kitchen is no exception. It’s a tiny space from which issues an unbelievable amount of goodness.  Join us in celebrating that bounty at a tasting featuring our greatest hits (single origin truffles, ganache-filled figs) and some works-in-progress. 

Friday, July 22
7pm-9pm:  Coffee & Chocolate Pairing
Enjoy a match made in Seattle, as Roy Street Coffee’s Ryan Soeder guides you through the murky waters of pairing coffee with chocolate.  Discover how optimal pairings bring out hidden flavor notes in both chocolate and coffee--then stay awake all night appreciating your new insight!

Tuesday, July 26
7pm-9pm:  Focus on Chocolate:  Cacao Production in the Indigenous Ngobe Communities of Panama
More tales from the frontlines of cacao:  former Peace Corp volunteer Kate Selting spent her 2008-2010 stint in Panama, where she supported local farmers’ efforts to improve their production practices.  Get the nitty-gritty on Kate’s experiences and an update on Panamanian cacao farming.

Wednesday, July 27
1pm-2pm:  Demonstration:  Ganache
See how Chocolopolis’ chocolatiers produce the melty centers of our popular truffles.  Making creamy ganache is as simple as adding cream to melted chocolate--just as long as your temperature, timing, and proportions are exactly right. 

Thursday, July 28
5pm-9pm:  Happy Hour:  Staff Picks
If you’ve been to Chocolopolis, you know our staffers have strong opinions!  At this anniversary month Happy Hour, put those opinions to a taste test.  Enjoy samples of each staffer’s favorite bars and decide whose palate is most in line with your own.

Saturday, July 30
12pm-1pm:  Demonstration:  Smoked Chocolate Mousse
You won’t want to blink as Chocolopolis’ chocolatiers make more magic right in front of your eyes.  First they’ll smoke (!) premium chocolate to add extra depth and flavor.  Then they’ll turn that chocolate into rich, creamy mousse. 

3pm-5pm:  Meet the Chocolate Maker:  Rob Anderson, Fresco Chocolate
Learn more about Washington State's very own micro-batch artisan chocolate maker.  Rob Anderson will introduce you to his line of single-origin bars and describe his unique approach to processing.  If you’ve ever wondered how conching contributes to flavor profile, don’t miss this event.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Bar of the Week: Amano's Madagascar

Our bar of the week comes from Utah's small batch chocolate maker, Amano.  The Madagascar bar is a 70% dark chocolate made from cacao grown in--you guessed it!--Madagascar.  This bar takes the bright, fruity flavors you'd expect from the region and cranks the volume to 11, featuring what Amano describes as "assertive" citrus and raspberry notes.

On Saturday, July 9th we'll be celebrating both the Queen Anne Sidewalk Sale and the start of Chocolopolis' Third Anniversary Month. Stop by for a samples of Amano's Madagascar bar and our iced drinking chocolate, as well as our own housemade truffles for only $1 each!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What's a Cacao Nib and What the Heck Do I Do with It?

Like delicious chocolate nuts, cacao nibs are pieces of the roasted cacao bean. Crunchy and nutty, with hints of liquor-y fermentation, these little gems are the building blocks of artisan chocolate. Taste a cacao nib from Madagascar and you may recognize the red fruit notes commonly associated with Madagascar chocolate. Try one from Venezuela and you may taste walnut notes. Like single-origin chocolate, the flavor of a nib depends upon cacao varietal, terroir, fermentation and roasting style.

So where does a nib come from? After an artisan chocolate maker has roasted cacao beans, he or she needs to remove the papery thin shell on the outside of the beans before beginning the chocolate-making process. Most chocolate makers do this with a machine called a "winnower". The winnower shakes the roasted beans into small pieces (nibs), and air blows the papery shells away from the nibs. So nibs are just pieces of the roasted cacao bean, ready to be ground up into liquid chocolate.

Wondering how the crunchy, nutty nib becomes chocolate? The chocolate maker grinds the nibs, melting their fat and creating  liquid chocolate, more recognizable as what you expect chocolate to be. Cacao is made up of approximately equal parts cocoa solids and cocoa butter, so there's a lot of fat in these beans.

Why would someone eat nibs instead of chocolate? Not only are they a delicious and nutritious snack, but they contain a significant number of antioxidants. They are also good for your teeth, as long as there's no sugar added. If you approach nibs with the understanding that they aren't going to taste like a bar of chocolate they can be a delicious and healthful culinary experience.

So what to do with nibs? The possibilities are endless. Whether you're trying to add crunchy texture to a baked good, depth to a spice rub or a savory note to your pasta, nibs can be used pretty much anywhere. The most interesting recipe we've seen is one recommended by a customer for Cacao and Zucchini Absorption Pasta. Give it a try, let us know what you think!

Other ideas for nibs, many of them from our devoted customers, follow. Have fun trying them!
  • Add to waffles, oatmeal, chocolate chip cookies, yogurt or trail mix
  • Grind with cayenne, salt and other spices as a rub for meat, poultry or seafood
  • Toss with vinaigrette for a nutty note to your salad
  • Cook nibs with sugar to make brittle
Happy nib-bling!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bar of the Week: Pacari's Manabi

Send your tastebuds on an Ecuadorian adventure 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, July 2nd.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bar of the Week: Pralus' Caracas

Our bar of the week is a subtle exotic from French maker Francois Pralus.  A 75% dark chocolate made from Venezuelan cacao, the Caracas bar combines Pralus's usual creamy texture and dark roast with a mellow earthiness inherent in the cacao.  Come by on Saturday, June 25th, for a sample of Pralus' Caracas.  

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Remembering Dad this Father's Day

As Father's Day approaches this Sunday, I've been thinking a lot about my dad. This is my first Father's Day without him. He was never much into birthdays and holidays, particularly those he considered "greeting card" holidays. While Father's Day certainly qualified as a "greeting card" holiday in his book, he loved getting my cards, and he loved our recent tradition of going to a Yankees-Mariners game for a belated Father's Day celebration. I'm fortunate and lucky I got to spend these last three years in the same city with him. I cherish every moment he was in Seattle. I'm really lucky.

My unsolicited advice to those of you with a Dad still around is to enjoy him while you can. Don't put off until tomorrow what you can share with him today. While I could certainly suggest a gift of chocolate for Dad ;), the best present is quality time spent together.

In honor of my dad, I've provided a link to the chocolate-covered send off I gave him when he passed away in November. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. May you and your father have a wonderful Father's Day.

Chocolopolis: Farewell to Our Biggest Fan

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bar of the Week: Michel Cluizel's Grand Noir

If you're one of those chocolate lovers who's trying to gently ease into the higher percentages, our bar of the week might be for you. Or if you're one of those who thinks anything over 70% will taste like baking chocolate, it just might change your mind. 

Michel Cluizel's Grand Noir is a blended from a number of carefully chosen cacaos. It's 85% strength is noticeably mainly in its muted sweetness; the other flavors are surprisingly soft, with no sharp edges and an overall mellowness that recalls slow-roasted nuts. 

Come in for a taste of Michel Cluizel's Grand Noir on Saturday, June 18th. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Chocolopolis + Kiva

Although Chocolopolis doesn't have a tip jar, the occasional customer will insist on leaving a little something on the counter.  For years that change has been slowly accumulating in a Dixie cup while we wondered what to do with it.

Finally our coins collection reached critical mass, and we decided to use our change for change. The microlending website Kiva gave us the opportunity to turn our tips into a loan to an entrepreneur in a developing country.  We couldn't find any cacao farmers or chocolate makers in the directory of borrowers, but we did find Juana (above), a Nicaraguan confectioner who hopes to expand her fudge-making business.  Juana will use her loan to improve her production and distribution capabilities, then use her increased profits to repay her loan--which we can then re-lend to another entrepreneur. 

If you're one of those who told us to "keep the change," we hope that you'll approve of our choice.  Thanks so much for helping us to help others.

And go, Juana, go!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bar of the Week: Fine and Raw's Blueberries

We're welcoming summer with a fresh, fruity bar of the week:  Fine & Raw's Blueberries.  Brooklyn-based F&R specializes in delectable chocolates with a healthy spin; processed at lower-than-normal temperatures, their "raw" chocolates maintain more of cacao's natural nutrients.  The Blueberries bar ups the ante even further, adding antioxidant-laden dried blueberries to a 70% dark chocolate made from Ecuadorian cacao and sweetened with palm sugar.  It's a rich, jammy treat you can feel good about!

Stop by on Saturday, June 11th, for a sample of Fine & Raw's Blueberries bar.  

Not in our neighborhood?  Fine & Raw's Blueberries bar is also available from our online store

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bar of the Week: Bonnat's Java

If you've finally gotten your head around the differences between "dark", "semi-sweet", and "bittersweet", our bar of the week might throw you for a new loop.  From France's venerable bean-to-bar chocolate maker Chocolat Bonnat comes Java, made from single-origin Indonesian cacao.  Java is a 65% milk chocolate, a so-called "dark milk" that contains milk but also has a higher percentage of cocoa solids than is typical for a milk chocolate. 

A dark milk chocolate tends to be creamier than most darks and less sweet than most milks.  Bonnat's Java lives up to this reputation, with a flavor that is at once sophisticated and comforting, intense and gentle.  Notes and smoke and peat provide a bassline for lighter tones of citrus and cream.

Come by on Saturday, June 4th, for a sample of Bonnat's Java and an introduction to the world of dark milks. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bar of the Week: Pralus' Ghana

Pralus' Ghana bar is made in France using Forestero beans grown in Ghana.  Like most of Pralus' line, Ghana is a 75% dark chocolate with strong roasty notes and a silky-smooth texture.  In other respects, Ghana has its own thing going on.  Pralus' tasting notes describe Ghana as "relentlessly aromatic, cocoa, spicy," but most of us here experience it as milder and more subtle than many of Pralus' other offerings, with the earthiness characteristic of the region leavened by a nutty sweetness not unlike sun-warmed hay.

We'll have samples of Pralus' Ghana available on Saturday, May 28th. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bar of the Week: Cluizel's Mangaro Noir

Our bar of the week is the Mangaro Noir from French chocolate maker Michel Cluizel.  Made from beans grown in Madagascar on the site of a former mango forest, this 65% dark chocolate is so light, bright, and fruity it's tempting to chalk its personality up to terroir alone. 

Stop by on Saturday, May 21st, for a sample of Cluizel's mouthwatering Mangaro Noir.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Shout Out - Best Use of Single-Origin Chocolate

As you may have heard, The Serious Chocolate Contest is being held at Chocolopolis this coming Sunday, May 15. While there are four categories you can enter, there's one category that is particularly close to our hearts. I'd like to make a special shout-out to the category "Best Use of Single Origin Chocolate".

Why do we like this category so much? If you've been to Chocolopolis, you'll know that we arrange our carefully curated selection of artisan chocolate according to cacao origin. For us, it's all about cacao varietal,  proper fermentation, terroir and the style of the chocolate maker in creating delicious chocolate. Whether the cacao has the smoky, earthy notes of Papua New Guinea, or the red fruit and citrus notes of Madagascar, we want to taste and enjoy what's unique about each of these regions. For The Serious Chocolate Contest, entries in this category will be judged based on how well they show off the unique flavor profile of the single-origin chocolate.

So yes, it's a challenge. But those who enter the Best Use of Single-Origin Chocolate category will earn our admiration and respect, whether or not they win. And we don't bestow our admiration easily.

If you're considering entering this category and you want to talk about it first, I'm happy to talk. Just give us a call and let whoever answers the phone know that you'd like to discuss this category. If I'm not here when you call, I promise to call you back very soon.

Happy chocolate tasting,
Lauren Adler
Chief Chocophile

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Bar of the Week: Rogue's Hispaniola

Our bar of the week is Rogue's Hispaniola, a 70% dark chocolate made from cacao beans grown, fermented and sun-dried by a small cooperative in the Dominican Republic. With a list of ingredients that's as about as short as they come ("cocoa beans, cane sugar"), Hispaniola's flavors are clear and bright.  Sunny notes of citrus and red fruit are grounded by mild spices and cool, herbal licorice.  

This is the first time we've featured Rogue Chocolates since micro-batch chocolate maker Colin Gasko since he packed up his contraptions and moved from Minnesota to Massachusetts.  Come by on Saturday, May 14th, to sample Rogue's Hispaniola and join us in wishing Gasko the best of luck in his new neighborhood.  

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bar of the Week: Santander 70%

Calling all coffee lovers!  Our bar of the week is notorious for robust, roasty, full-bodied flavor.  Chocolate Santander's 70% dark bar is a terrific eating chocolate and the basis for our Colombian truffle and one of our most popular drinking chocolates.

The cacao for Santander's range of single origin bars is sourced from small farms in Colombia.  Unusually, the chocolate is also manufactured in Colombia, by a firm established in 1920.  

Come by our Queen Anne store for a "sip" of Santander 70% on Saturday, May 8th.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bar of the Week: República Del Cacao's Manabi

Our bar of the week is one of those rare chocolates made in the same country in which the cacao beans were grown.  República Del Cacao's Manabi bar is produced in Quito from Arriba Nacional cacao grown in the western province of Manabi.  In case you'd like to have a closer look at the area, the bar's packaging includes the GPS coordinates of the relevant farm.

Although Manabi is a 75% dark chocolate, its profile is what you might call "relaxed".  Soft fruity flavors unfold slowly as the chocolate melts, growing into a mild but well-rounded sweetness that fades just as laconically.  This gentle, fresh-tasting chocolate is perfect for spring palates.

Come by and try República Del Cacao's Manabi at our Braven store on Thursday, April 28, or at our Queen Anne store on Saturday, April 30.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bar of the Week: Domori's Sur del Lago

Our bar of the week comes from Italian chocolate maker Domori. Sur del Lago is a 70% dark chocolate made from Venezuelan cacao grown south of Lake Maracaibo. It's smooth, rich, and well-rounded, with notes of almonds and coffee, and a subtle smokiness. 
Come by and try Domori's Sur del Lago at our Braven store on Thursday, April 21st, or at our Queen Anne store on Saturday, April 23rd.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bar of the Week: Amedei's Toscano Black 63%

This week we're focusing on a bar from Italian chocolate artisan Amedei.  The Toscano range of bars features a carefully chosen blend of different cacaos, presented in a range of different percentages.  The 63% is a creamy, full-flavored dark chocolate with an unusal and evocative flavor profile.  Amedei suggests that tasters pay particular attention to the aromas, which may include, "Mediterranean woodland, millefleurs honey, a hint of bread baked in a wood oven, fresh tobacco, [and] green tomato chutney."

Will you detect the tobacco, the chutney, or something else entirely?  Try a sample and find out; Thursday, April 14th, at our Bravern branch, or Saturday, April 16th, at our store on top of Queen Anne. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Bar of the Week: Madecasse Sea Salt & Nibs

Our bar of the week is an especially delectable representative from our "inclusions" section.  Madecasse's Sea Salt & Nibs bar blends their 63% dark chocolate with crunchy nibs and a sprinkle of salt for a sweet-bitter-fruity-savory flavor extravaganza.  As always, Madecasse's chocolate is made in Madagascar from local cacao, ensuring that a higher percentage of the company's profits benefit the local community. 

You'll have two chances to try this delicious bar:  at our Bravern store on Thursday, April 7th, or at our Queen Anne store on Saturday, April 9th. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bar of the Week: Cluizel's Maralumi Lait

Milk chocolate lovers, you've been waiting patiently, so here's a Bar of the Week for you!  From French chocolate maker Michel Cluizel, Maralumi Lait is a 47% milk chocolate made from single origin cacao grown in Papua New Guinea.  Here's what Cluizel has to say about it:

“...'Maralumi' plantation lies on a land rich in alluvial deposits. Its strongly aromatic cocoa beans blend well with milk to make a distinguished and powerful combination. In the mouth, the characteristic notes of bananas, red berries, and blueberries emanate progressively in an herbaceous harmony and then in “salty caramel.”

(If you like the sound of that but prefer dark chocolate, Maralumi also comes in a dark version...)

You can sample Maralumi Lait at our Braven store in downtown Bellevue on Wednesday, March 31st, or at our Queen Anne store on Saturday, April 2nd. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bar of the Week: Pralus Tanzanie

Our bar of the week is Pralus' single-origin Tanzanie, a 75% dark chocolate that is typical of the maker in some ways and unexpected in others.  Made from Forestero cacao, Tanzanie is surprisingly light and fruity, full-bodied but with little of the bitter heavy-roasted notes that are a common theme in Pralus' chocolates.  The glossy temper and silky texture, however, are pure Pralus. 

You can try Pralus' Tanzanie at our Bravern store on Wednesday, March 24th, or at our store on upper Queen Anne on Saturday, March 26th.