Thursday, April 18, 2013

Oakland Chocolate - Rum Barrel - April 18, 2013

Chocolate of the Day:

The Oakland Chocolate Co, LLC
Barrel - Rum Raisin, Sweet Curry Milk
Weight: .4 oz. (11.32 g.) (estimate) for 1 barrel
Calories: 60 calories (estimate) for 1 barrel
Cost: $N/A - part of a previous assortment
Purchased from: The Oakland Chocolate Company, Oakland, CA

Today was Day #4 of Chocolate and Spirits Theme Week.

The Oakland Chocolate Co, LLC is a small company, based in Oakland, CA. Chief chocolate maker, Nancy Nadel, uses cocoa beans from St. Mary's Parish in Jamaica.

While there are dozens of women chocolatiers in the San Francisco Bay Area, Nadel is one of the few women who are making chocolate from cocoa beans (bean to bar, and in this case from bean to bar to bonbon), rather than buying blocks of chocolate to make her bonbons, rolled truffles and chocolate leaves.

She describes her Jamaican-based chocolate as having chocolate brownie and plum notes, and this is consistent with flavors I tasted in her dark (70 - 72% cacao) chocolates (part of an assortment box), including an oak leaf and a chocolate barrel that I imagined was filled with Jamaican rum. It was either rum raisin, sweet curry milk -- or both. In any case, the flavor of this soft golden filling was quite tasty.

Dogpatch chocolate field trip - April 17, 2013

Chocolate(s) of the Day:

Chocolate Lab
Ice-Cream Sundae
Very Good
Weight: unknown
Calories: unknown
Cost: $9.00 for 1 sundae
Purchased from: Chocolate Lab, San Francisco, CA

Today was Day #3 of Chocolate and Spirits Theme Week. A friend and I took a field trip to San Francisco today to search for good food, interesting places, and chocolates in this category.

We went to Dogpatch (east of the Mission District and adjacent to Potrero Hill), a relatively small neighborhood in San Francisco with a very high chocolate Intelligence Quotient (IQ), thanks to a long list of creative entrepreneurs and establishments.

I chose two chocolate + spirits items, from 1.) Michael Recchiuti (Chocolate Lab and Little Nib), and 2.) Ian Flores and Annabelle Topacio (aka the ice cream power couple behind Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous).

Other notable chocolatiers and chocolate makers in the up-and-coming Dogpatch area include Poco Dolce, Kika's Treats, Alter Eco, and the ghosts of Joseph Schmidt (which disappeared after Hershey's bought them several years ago) and Dandelion Chocolate (moved to the Mission District of San Francisco); and the list goes on.

Not Just Any Ice Cream Sundae
The "Ice-Cream Sundae" at the Chocolate Lab was not your typical ice cream sundae. Three small scoops of Burnt Caramel ice cream were topped with an assortment of Recchuiti chocolate covered hazelnuts, almonds and peanut butter pearls, and house made (lightly roasted) marshmallows. The sundae was served with a little white pitcher of extra bitter chocolate sauce to pour over the ice cream.

I also asked for a tiny side of Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters (the type used in cocktails), that (in very small doses - 1 drop at a time) was an interesting complement to the sundae. (This chocolate hued flavoring agent contributed some extra "spirits" to this already complex and wonderfully flavorful sundae.) Thank you to the Chocolate Lab staff, once again, for humoring me and enabling small tasting experiments.

And, Even More Ice Cream
We couldn't leave Dogpatch without a visit to Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous, a high-end ice cream (and baked goods) shop that opened in 2010 with a fresh, creative twist -- including a few ice creams with alcohol, spirits or liqueurs. The closest flavor with both chocolate (or something with a cacao origin) + spirits on today's menu: the ice cream version of the "Pink Squirrel" -- a cocktail made with Creme de Cacao, Creme de Noyaux (think bitter almonds, or Amaretto) and cream. This Pink Squirrel ice cream was a delicate pastel pink (from the Creme de Noyaux) and had a smooth, almond kernel flavor.
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