Saturday, August 07, 2004

You Can Deprive The Body,

...but the soul needs chocolate.

A few years ago I spent the weekend in Paris. As I roamed the city, every time I passed one of those little chocolate shops, I'd stop and buy a bar of 70% chocolate. At the end of the weekend, I must have had a dozen bars.

I've always loved chocolate. Before this trip, Dove dark chocolate was my fav. It took me a few months to consume the bars from Paris, and then I was ruined for any chocolate I could find here in the states.

Finally, I found Scharffen Berger chocolate - I don't remember where exactly, but it was probably at the world's best grocery store, Larry's Market. Founded by a former physician (who went to Paris to learn chocolate) and an ex-wine maker (champagne actually), Scharffen Berger's bars are every bit a match for boutique chocolate from Paris.

When they started their company they went to Europe and bought old fashioned chocolate making equipment, brought it back to South San Francisco, reconditioned it and started making chocolate the old world way. They've since moved to Berkeley and now offer factory tours and even have a cafe. The secret to their unique flavor is their blend of beans. They travel the world buying beans for their hand crafted blend.

In addition to their bars and cocoa powder, they sell cocoa nibs. Nibs are roasted cocoa beans separated from their husks and broken into small bits. They're ideal for baking into biscotti or cookies, and great on ice cream or even cereal (yes, I'm a real chocoholic). For the ladies, they have cocoa perfume.

Buy Scharffen Berger here.

Today I found a worthy competitor to Scharffen Berger for "best chocolate" in the U.S., Dagoba Organic Chocolate. At the Portland Farmers Market, there was a booth selling bars of Dagoba.

Founded on Yoda's home world, er, by a chocolate obsessed musician in Boulder, Dagoba has grown and moved to Central Point, Oregon. They had two stand-out bars, both dark of course. The first is a 59% lavender and blueberry infused bar, the other a 74% bar called New Moon. I've made lavender shortbread before, and this lavender chocolate is great - floral and earthy with a hint of blueberry flavor and occasional bits of blueberry.

Dagoba's claim to fame, is the "alchemy of flavor infusion, an art they explor with "mystery and integrity." Their lavender bar lives up to that billing. Dagoba also has their own unique blend of cocoa beans - also top quality.

Image Hosted by Like many highly sought after things from Latin America, Dagoba comes in 2 pound bricks. No nibs though. You can buy Dagoba organic chocolates here.

[Hat tip: Beast Blog]


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