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.