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 (

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!