Sunday, February 20, 2011

ChocolateBet: February 20, 2011

Chocolate of the Day:
1/2 bar
Patric Chocolate
In-NIB-itable BAR - dark chocolate with nibs
Very Good +
Weight: 1.15 oz. (32.5 g.) / 2.3 oz. (65 g.) total bar
Calories: 169 calories (estimate)
Cost: $8.00 (member price)
Purchased from: The Chocolate Garage, in Palo Alto, CA

Time was that the best chocolate was considered to be made in Europe. Today I say -- Buy American. Patric is putting out some very fine "American Handcrafted Chocolate" bars. Today's In-NIB-itable dark bar (70% Madagascar dark chocolate), was texture-studded with crunchy bits of ground cacao nibs, and had a nicely balanced blend of acid-bitter and nutty-sweet flavors.

I ate this bar today after walking through the towns of Vallejo and Crockett, California (part of a 1,000 mile walk I'm doing around San Francisco Bay). These are very American cities. Why do I say that? Well, any area in the world seems grounded in their particular region when products are being made or manufactured there. Crockett is home to a large C and H sugar plant, and lies at the foot of a large bridge going into Vallejo -- a community that used to have an active shipyard and naval base, and still has a Maritime academy there. The picture at right is near where I stopped to eat this bar.

You get the feeling that people worked with their hands to build things here. Older men get up more stiffly and slowly from lunch counter tables. Fishing and commercial boats still glide by in the Carquinez Strait. Less than one hour's drive from here are the more vibrant cities of Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco -- filled with many businesses, including many innovative chocolate makers.

I hope folks in Missouri appreciate the bars that Patric is turning out as much as I do. And I hope to continue to enjoy many more fine bars being made in Missouri, California, and other states in the U.S. Most of all I hope we all continue to take pride in making things.

ChocolateBet: February 19, 2011

Chocolate of the Day:
2/5 bar
Republica del Cacao
Single Origin - Galapagos Islands Dark Chocolate with Coffee Nibs (bar)
Very Good +
Weight: 1 oz. (28 g.) / 2.5 oz. (70 g.) total bar
Calories: 142 calories (estimate)
Cost: $6.00 total bar
Purchased from: The Chocolate Garage, in Palo Alto, CA

Today was Day #7 of Chocolate and Single Origin Theme Week. Today's Republica del Cacao dark (75% cacao solids), single origin bar was a sparkling combination of dark chocolate, sugar and coffee nibs (ground fine enough to avoid being gritty, but coarse enough to add nice texture). I don't believe I've ever used the word sparkling to describe a chocolate, but this fits -- in that each flavor had it's turn to shine.

I have been wanting to try a bar with cacao from the Galapagos Islands for quite some time. Republica del Cacao features cacao grown in Ecuador, and by extension the Galapagos to the West. If I can't get to these islands in person this year, I feel happy I can traverse the globe, in my imagination at least, via chocolate.

My chocolate adventures are largely made possible due to places like The Chocolate Garage in Palo Alto. Thank you Sunita -- for continuing to make chocolates available that I haven't tasted yet (even after 1,600+ chocolates). The Chocolate Garage is both an educational venue for people wanting to learn more about "happy" chocolate through tastings and workshops, and also a great source for a chocolate banquet (can there be an edible chocolate atlas?) in the Palo Alto, CA, area.

Thank you also to Judy and friends in San Francisco for tasting assistance and sharing tasting comments.

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