My Staying Local posts have been focused on chocolate mainly made in the metro Washington, D.C., area. But at the D.C. Chocolate Festival I learned about more chocolatiers and chocolate makers who are based out of other parts of Virginia. (The northern part of Virginia is considered part of the metro D.C. area while the central and southern parts of Virginia are vastly different in cultural aspects.)
I had first heard about Upchurch through my sister, who is discovering her love her dark chocolate. She’s been a wonderful source of news and for keeping an ear out for any chocolate makers or chocolatiers that we haven’t tried yet who are based out of Richmond. Upchurch seems to be relatively new to the Richmond area, and doesn’t have a story on their website on how they started up (I like reading those kinds of stories!), but it’s great to see that they’re growing and have their products sold at various retail stores.
Maybe surprisingly, this was the first time I’ve seen a bar where they list what kind of notes the consumer could/should detect from a chocolate.
I could smell the coffee from this bar upon unwrapping it. The texture was grainy, but not dry. I immediately tasted the acidity and earthiness of the dark chocolate, as well as the coffee. I actually did taste notes of Oreos as the packaging said! Not so much of s’mores and rocky road ice cream, but definitely Oreos. Maybe I can relate to the flavor of Oreos better. Usually I like my chocolate to be smooth, but this bar and Taza chocolate are going to be the grainy texture exceptions. The grainy-ness of this bar helped me further believe that real coffee grounds were used, which is always great!
Upchurch: Made in Richmond, VA
Opening the packaging for Potomac Chocolate was like opening a gift. Maybe every bar that has multiple layers of unwrapping makes me feel like a gift you’re anxious to reveal the prize 🙂 I really like the simple and crisp style of Potomac’s packaging, and that cute little fish!
I first saw Potomac Chocolate being sold at J. Chocolatier’s store when Jane had her location in Georgetown, D.C. But it wasn’t until now that I finally picked up a bar. I first watched a video about Potomac Chocolate and Ben (the founder) showing how his chocolate making started up. It’s inspiring and neat to see that out of your own home you can make your own chocolate! Sure, I had heard it was possible, but it’s another thing to see physically what tools people can use in their own kitchens or homes. If I ever decide to make my own chocolate, Ben is going to be a large source of inspiration.
I really liked how with this chocolate bar I could see the coconut bits. I could easily taste them as well, with their light fruitiness and almost buttery coconut flavor mellowing out the slight acidity from the dark chocolate. I liked this bar! Because strong acidity can upset my stomach, I’m glad this one wasn’t too overwhelming in that department.
Potomac Chocolates: Made in Woodbridge, VA
I don’t know anything about Chocolate Con Amor, and there’s only a brief description on their website from the owner proclaiming his love of chocolate. I had to laugh aloud when he mentions “bland chocolates folded into brown wrappers.” We all know who he is referring to 😉 I guess we’ll just go straight to the chocolate because i don’t know what else to say about Con Amor except for some reason his face kind of reminds me of Jackson Galaxy.
I’m not a huge fan of goat milk in chocolate because sour isn’t a flavor I’m into. But this bar was lighter on the sour flavor than others, and I greatly appreciate that! I could smell the goat milk once I unwrapped the bar and expected to get a mouthful of sour flavors, but I was pleasantly surprised to get the smooth flavor of the milk chocolates with the goat milk lingering in the background.
The back of the 75% Dominican bar mentions that the consumer could taste notes of caramel and toffee in the chocolate, and it was completely correct! Usually I have a hard time detecting all the minute notes in dark chocolate, but this was on point!
Chocolate Con Amor: Made in Berryville, VA