Exploring chocolate makers from as many of the 50 states as possible has been quite a journey! I’m grateful to have fellow blogger, Trish, by my side because tackling a project like this would have taken forever and it’s more fun experiencing a shared adventure 🙂 Thank you so much, Trish, for helping me, lending your time and ideas and for making this possible!
I’m kind of sad to wrap up this project but I’m also glad because my “side stash” of chocolate that I want to share on here has continued to pile up. The increase in temperatures has also discouraged me from making more online orders, which is a good thing because once I get through that stash I want to shift my focus back to what’s local to the Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., area again.
Not only am I celebrating finishing up the 50 States project with Trish, but I’m also celebrating 200 blog posts on Time To Eat Chocolate! Thank you so much to those who have been reading and following my blog, who have been encouraging me on my journey and to the chocolate makers who I’ve had to chance to connect with. Time To Eat Chocolate is very much a personal journal of the chocolates I’ve tried, but it’s also been a wonderful way to connect with fellow chocolate lovers, bloggers and chocolate makers.
Let’s move on to the last chocolate maker I’ll be covering! To represent Vermont, I am trying Blue Bandana. I was surprised to find out that Blue Bandana is basically Lake Champlain! I’ve shared a few Lake Champlain bars on Time To Eat Chocolate before, and I had no idea at the time that they had another line of chocolate bars under the name Blue Bandana.
Blue Bandana was started in 2012 by Eric Lampman, the head of R&D at Lake Champlain and son of the original founder of Lake Champlain Chocolates, Jim Lampman. Blue Bandana was created out of the “desire to go deeper into the chocolate-making process.” Even though Eric grew up being very familiar with chocolate, he hadn’t gone to where his cacao originated from and at the time, he didn’t thoroughly understand the process that it went through before it came into his hands. He took a trip to the Dominican Republic to visit small farms and he came back with a greater appreciation for the work that went into preparing cacao. The name Blue Bandana came about because Eric would wrap a bandana around his face to protect himself from the dust created when he was winnowing the beans. The wrappers used for these bars also have a bandana-like pattern. I like the simple and clean look!
This bar smelled fruity, sweet and like toasted coconut. The flavor was definitely reminiscent of brownies but also astringent. Halfway through my bite I tasted toasted coconut and in the aftertaste I got some nutty notes. The astringency stayed throughout my entire bite from the beginning into the aftertaste.
It’s cool seeing a bar using cacao from the Akesson farm. Ever since I tried a couple of Akesson’s bars, I’ve been more aware of other chocolate makers who obtain their cacao from them. This bar smelled like cranberries, apple and basically like the fall season. It tasted a little earthy and tart, but just like cranberry and lemon. The tartness of lemon and cranberry stayed throughout the rest of my bite.
This is the first time I’ve seen “roasted cherry” as a flavor note. The bar smelled and tasted like cherry. Throughout my bite it tasted like cherries and chocolatey. Because this bar wasn’t as tart or astringent as the others, and the cherry flavor was smooth and pleasant, I liked this bar the best out of the three that I tried.
When I attended a Lake Champlain factory tour a couple of years ago, they said that Whole Foods was their largest customer. Even though Lake Champlain seems quite large compared to other bean-to-bar companies, all of their bars you see at Whole Foods come from their single factory in Burlington, VT. I’m glad to hear that Lake Champlain has ventured into bean-to-bar! I hope that in the future Blue Bandana will be available at Whole Foods along with the original Lake Champlain line. They could help introduce everyday consumers to craft chocolate.
Blue Bandana/Lake Champlain: Made in Burlington, VT
Make sure to head over to Eating the Chocolate Alphabet to see which state Trish will be closing this project with on her end!
Other chocolate makers in Vermont are:
Kerchner Artisan Chocolate
These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. All images are original and the property of Time To Eat Chocolate unless specifically stated otherwise.