Thursday, February 14, 2013

Preview: Elena Chocolate, Valentines Day Heart

Preview Profile: Elena Chocolate
February 14, 2013

I returned yesterday from a trip to Hawaii, the only U.S. state where cacao fruit can really be grown. I was in Kona, Hawaii, located on the west coast of the largest and southernmost island that comprises the state. And, at 18 degrees Latitude North, the Big Island is perhaps the best island for growing cacao, the raw material for the chocolate that we all love.

So, yes, I was on the hunt for cacao fruit, and island grown and made chocolates; but I also enjoyed discovering a few exotic fruits that might be good combined with chocolate. Vi(e) fruit truffles anyone?

I was fortunate to be able to visit the award-winning Green Gecko Coffee Farm in the Kona area. The owners of Green Gecko, Mike Katz and Lawton Allenby, had designed a veritable tropical paradise on a few acres, with coffee, a variety of fruit trees, flowers -- and even a few recently planted cacao trees. I also visited a few different Farmers Markets with them. These outdoor markets were a great way to sample local produce, fruits, macadamia nuts, and other items.

At the Saturday morning Keauhou Farmers Market, I met an evangelist for the Lulo fruit; and Vheissu and Carolyn Keffer, of Kona Origins, a company I will write about next.

However, to celebrate today, Valentines Day, I'd like to give a shout-out to Elena Garcia at Elena Chocolate.

Her Raspberry Liliko'i (passion fruit) heart-shaped chocolates were the perfect chocolate for Valentines Day this week. Elena expounded on her love for both different grades of chocolate and fresh flavor additions -- a combination of skills and interests not always found with chocolatiers -- who may just want to stick with buying one brand of base chocolate, that is easiest to work with.

Elena was more aware of pairing certain types of chocolates with various ingredients. Hats off to Elena, an infectiously creative spirit and artist. The Raspberry Lilikoi chocolate was delicious.

Happy Valentines Day to all!

Dick Taylor - 70% Ecuador bar - February 14, 2013

Chocolate of the Day:

Dick Taylor Chocolate
70% Ecuador bar
Good + - Very Good
Weight: 1 oz. (28 g.) / 2 oz. (56 g.) total bar
Calories: 148 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $9.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: The Chocolate Garage, Palo Alto, CA

After eating Pacari Chocolate bars from Ecuador this past week, it was fun to get a different, finished, take on cacao beans from the same country -- this time from Dick Taylor Chocolate (Arcata, CA), a Northern California chocolate maker.

This bar was made from organic cacao and organic cane sugar by these small batch craft chocolate makers in Humboldt County (not far from Humboldt Bay where boats are built). And the makers statement describes how they "delicately roast, crack, winnow, stone refine, and age our chocolate in our factory..." The complete bean-to-bar process took approximately one month.

In contrast to the Pacari bars, today's 70% Ecuador bar was richer, slightly more bitter and acidic, a bit earthier -- and with no up-front floral notes that I could detect. Although there was one pleasant fleeting hit of olive at the beginning of one bite. Later after lunch I re-sampled this bar; it was consistent with what I recalled tasting in the morning, but I picked up one tiny little floral chocolatey hint.

Dick Taylor Chocolate is an amalgam of the talents of Adam Dick and Dustin Taylor -- who also have a background in handcrafted boat building; thus the shipwright-related craft illustration on the packaging. The bar was also imprinted with a beautiful patterned illustration, that spoke to the owners sense of thoughtful design.

Today was Day #9 of Chocolate and Ecuador Theme Week.

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