Archive for May, 2008

Dagoba Conacado 73%

May 28, 2008

Dagoba Conacado 73%

Ingredients: Organic Dark Chocolate (OG evaporated cane juice, OG cacao butter, OG cacao beans).

This 73% bar from Dagoba is from the Dominican Republic’s 9,000-member Conacado Cooperative, the largest organic fair-trade co-op in the world. More info on the co-op can be found at Dagoba or at the co-op’s own site.

Dagoba’s a good company, but this bar didn’t impress me. The texture was smooth and silky, but the taste wasn’t quite right. It started out woody, ashy and burnt tasting. A little bit of cherry emerged, but once the chocolate melted, my tongue felt really dry. The aftertaste is pleasant though – a milder burnt taste, closer to coffee (overroasted coffee, I guess, but not bad compared to the taste when I was chewing). Maybe Dagoba is retooling this bar, or they know it’s not a favorite, because it doesn’t appear in their online store for sale as an individual bar. I’ve enjoyed other bars from Dagoba in the past (unfortunately, too long ago to recall which ones), but I wouldn’t recommend this bar too strongly.

Some chocolatey sightings in Washington, DC

May 26, 2008

Chocolate mouse from the bakery

Chocolate mouse

Chocolate pie that Meghan made

Chocolate Pie

From the US Botanic Garden, the best tree of all, Theobroma cacao! (No pods growing.)

Cacao

Cacao tree

Also from the botanic garden, two more plants I noticed with “chocolate” in their description:

Cryptanthus “Chocolate Soldier”, from the Bromeliad family

Chocolate Soldier

And “Chocolate Plant”, Pseuderanthemum Alatum

Chocolate Plant

Dolfin Dark Chocolate with Lavender

May 11, 2008

Dolfin Dark Chocolate with Lavender

Ingredients: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, lavender, natural vanilla, emulsifier: soya lecithin. Cocoa solids: 60% min.

Dolfin is a Belgian company that’s been around over 20 years (based on info from their website). They describe their dark chocolate as “powerful, full-flavoured and sometimes extreme”, which is funny in comparison to the description of their milk chocolate as “soft and tender”. I would probably place a chocolate bar containing lavender in the “soft and tender” category, but it’s actually made with dark chocolate, with seriously intense results.

I’m not sure what drove me to pick up this particular bar, especially since it was next to Dolfin’s white pepper and cardamom bar, which sounds more to my taste. I’m not really into flowers – in fact, I’m allergic to the scent of lavender. I do like to try combinations that are new to me, and this bar is certainly unusual.

The bar smelled very flowery, like perfume, and it had a good snap. Taste-wise, it was dark, and the lavender was very present. It took me a while to place what the floral, spicy, heavy quality of the taste made me think of, and it’s musk (like in a perfume my mom probably had when I was a kid). There were little, bitter bits of lavender that remained on the tongue after the chocolate had melted, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about them. Some of them were small and nutty, and I liked what they added to the texture. Others made it too grainy. I even found a couple of thread-like pieces, which definitely didn’t work for me. At first, I was a little conflicted about this bar; the chocolate and lavender flavors were well balanced, but I didn’t like all of the lavender bits. However, I kept taking more and more of the bar, and decided after eating more than half of it that I will probably end up buying another one at some point (though not until I’ve tried some more from Dolfin).

ChocolateSmith Dipped Ginger

May 5, 2008

ChocolateSmith Dipped Ginger

I saw a great variety of bonbons and dipped chocolate items at Chocolate Covered, but this dipped ginger piece made by the ChocolateSmith really grabbed my attention. According to the description, it’s sake soaked ginger smothered in dark chocolate. I love the combination of ginger and chocolate, and the inclusion of sake sounded interesting.

Out of the wrapping, it smelled like citrus. I cut one of the pieces in half to get a better look at it. The ginger was really beautiful, translucent with a squishy consistency. Taste-wise, the dark chocolate was a great contrast to the crystallized ginger, which was both spicy and sweet. The sake taste was very mild; it tasted mostly like crystallized ginger to me, a bit sugary with the spiciness of the ginger taking over in the aftertaste. Overall, good flavor that means it can be eaten in small quantities – half of the chunk above (with three pieces of ginger) was enough for me.

ChocolateSmith dipped ginger - inside

According to their website, the ChocolateSmith is a chocolate boutique located in Santa Fe, NM. They use mostly organic and local products. Chocolate Covered carries a few of their items, but more can be purchased through their website.

Chocolate Covered in Noe Valley

May 4, 2008

Chocolate Covered - Storefront

Sometimes it takes me far too long to get around to doing something that I know I will enjoy. Visiting the store Chocolate Covered falls under this category. I’d been hearing about it for over a year from my friend Michele, who lives near it; I even knew that they sell some tasty stuff, as she got me some deliciously spicy chili pistachio bark and walnut cashew bark for my birthday this year. Still, every time I’ve considered going, I’ve had other things to do, and I’m rarely low enough on chocolate to warrant a trip to get more. But on Saturday, dangerously low on chocolate, I finally made it out.

The storefront is really cute and welcoming, with a large display window and a split door affording views of the floor to ceiling inventory. The space is fairly small and narrow – my friend told me that the owner and his wife have another store on 24th St, and switched the two locations not too long ago – but there’s enough space to move around and browse without feeling cramped. There were several other people in the store while we were looking around, including at least one regular, a school kid, and passerby often stopped at the window to peek in. In fact, as the picture above shows, I couldn’t get a shot without a person in it.

Chocolate Covered - Interior

Inside, one wall is covered with tin boxes featuring what seems like every street in San Francisco, along with dozens of novelty lunch boxes. (Riley found one featuring Tenacious D.) The other wall held the goods that excited me – an impressive selection of chocolate bars, bonbons, chocolate covered nuts and fruits… I ended up picking out five items:

  • The ChocolateSmith – Sake soaked ginger covered in dark chocolate
  • Dolfin – Dark Lavender bar
  • MarieBelle – Mayan Chocolate Bar (Unsweetened)
  • Stainer – Marrakech bar
  • Taza – Chocolate Mexicano Cinnamon disc

Since I was showing some restraint, I spent just under $27. Definitely worth the trip out – I’m sure I’ll be back to try more.

Chocolate Covered
4069 24th St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 641-8123

2nd Annual San Francisco Chocolate Salon

May 1, 2008

Chocolate Salon Line

Now that I’ve finally recovered from being sick and my allergies are under control, I wanted to post about the SF Chocolate Salon.  I’d been excited about the event ever since I heard about it back in  February, and planned to get there as early as possible; plenty of other people had the same idea, judging from the line that had formed by the time we arrived at 10:10. The event was supposed to start at ten, but we didn’t get in until around 10:30. Hopefully next year the ticketing will be sorted out better – the will call line was moving more slowly than the line for purchasing tickets, and people in one line had to cross through the other in order to get inside. We did receive some chocolate almonds from Chuck Siegel of Charles Chocolates and a little girl (his daughter?), so waiting in line wasn’t all that bad.

Though the event was packed the whole time we were there (from 10:30 until around 2:30), we didn’t have much trouble trying almost everything. We probably waited less than a minute at each table before being able to sneak our hands in to grab a sample. The only one we missed was Marti Chocolatt – there was a large crowd around their table, they were out of samples, and it didn’t look like they were going to have more anytime soon.

Crowd at the Chocolate Salon

Last year we attended several presentations, but this year we only made it to one, Sarah Feinbloom’s twenty-minute documentary “In Search of the Heart of Chocolate.” It was very funny, and I identified with many of the (crazed?) chocophiles in the movie. We had to watch it on a laptop instead of from the projector because of a missing adapter, but it wasn’t a huge deal.

Most of the participants were presenting confections. While there were several delicious pieces, many tasted a little too sugary/sweet and not chocolatey enough. There were plenty of raspberry chocolates, but I was disappointed by most of them – they had an overwhelming taste of liquor, rather than fresh fruit. I was, however, pleased by the passion fruit chocolates I tasted, which tasted fruity and fresh. I also enjoyed every piece I tried in another popular combination, chocolate and peanut butter.

Some of my favorites:

Charles Chocolates: Every piece I tried was delicious; the oolong and lychee tea chocolates were subtle but flavorful, and even though I hate butterflies, I love the peanut butterflies – the chocolate is smooth and creamy, and the peanut butter is slightly chunky.

Amano Chocolate: I love Amano. I told them so. They’re probably used to hearing this. Sadly, I had eaten too many sugary chocolates before getting to their table, so I didn’t try very hard to taste each piece (so I’m forced to conduct independent research in the future). They mentioned that I should watch their website for something new – exciting!

E. Guittard: There was no Chucuri to sample (my friend Sneha and I both asked), but they had an interesting 70% prototype out – it was bright, a little acidic, and mild. (It wasn’t as good as Chucuri, though.)

The Tea Room: Their lapsang suchong truffle had a unique, smoky flavor. I enjoyed the other dark chocolate truffles I tried, too.

XOX Truffles: I love the Earl Grey truffle. Simple hand-rolled look, and delicious flavor.

Coco Delice: In addition to their salty peanut butter bonbon, I enjoyed the forais piece, a salted caramel.

Rushburn Toffee: I’m not a huge fan of toffee because I dislike the chewiness and stickiness, but the piece I tried was not too hard or sticky, and and had just the right amount of sweetness.

Poco Dolce: Yay for spicy chocolate! I enjoyed the Aztec chile, which was spicy with a hint of sweetness.

Cosmic Chocolate\'s Obama chocolate

The most photographed piece was probably Cosmic Chocolate’s Obama chocolate. Though they weren’t sampling that piece (they had an Obama-less version of the same chocolate), it might have been a good idea if they had – the most interesting thing I noticed at the event was the number of people who were putting each sample into a baggie or box to enjoy later. While this makes sense, because not everyone wants to eat so much chocolate that they will feel sick later (err…), I didn’t notice anyone trying to label pieces so that they would know where they came from later. How terrible would it be to not be able to figure out where the delicious piece of chocolate you just enjoyed came from? (I brought home a few pieces, separately bagged for identification. Still couldn’t avoid the melt factor.)

I’m already looking forward to next year.