Search results: "La Naya"

La Naya

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Since I wasn’t able to make it to this year’s D.C. Chocolate Festival, some of my coworkers attended in my place. They sent me pictures and told me what events they attended. It was awesome hearing and seeing their excitement over trying new chocolates, hearing about chocolate makers they weren’t familiar with, and sharing all of the new information they learned about chocolate. I firmly believe in sharing my chocolate with others to share the joy and love for chocolate. In turn, it helps broaden the world of chocolate for others and… they are likely to share their chocolate with you, as my coworkers did with me after the Festival 😉

Through the pictures my coworkers took while at the Festival and when I later saw their haul in person, I noticed one name that kept showing up: La Naya. Apparently they were crazy popular! Practically everyone who sent me pictures of what bars they took home with them included one or two La Naya bars. When I asked them what they thought was special about La Naya, the main response was that La Naya is from Lithuania.

This blog post is sponsored by La Naya since they kindly mailed me some bars to try since they are not currently selling their products near my location, but they are working on being able to sell their bars at The Chocolate House! If you are interested in trying La Naya and you haven’t seen their bars at any stores near you, they can also be ordered off of www.lithuanianpride.com.

Many thanks to Asta Plankiene who represents Rotarum (an American distributor of Lithuanian foods) and Jovita Slapšinskaitė from La Naya who provided these bars! Thank you to Jovita for taking time to answer some questions so we could learn more about La Naya as well! Every time Jovita responded to my emails, she always started with a cheerful, “Greetings from sunny Vilnius :)”

I think it’s very unique and new that La Naya focuses on using chocolate to connect to our emotions. What inspired the founders of La Naya to use this as their focus for their chocolate?

“We are small company based in Lithuania. Common dreams connect people. This is why we gathered together and every day we do our best to produce highest quality bean to bar chocolate. We are really happy to share our passion with all chocolate lovers all around. Appreciation of chocolate lovers is the most powerful motive to keep on improving.

“While other chocolatiers work their way from bean to bars, we go one step further. At La Naya, our production processes are all about purifying emotions and expressing them through outstanding chocolate.”

What inspired the mountain shape for the mold of the La Naya bars?
“Unique, exceptional design of La Naya bars is portraying the mountains and valleys of La Naya village, full of unexpected tastes and aromas. Really long ago this village was in Guatemala.”

Where does La Naya source their cacao and why?
“We source cocoa beans from Panama, Vietnam, Tanzania, Costa Rica and other locations.”

Where does La Naya get inspiration for the flavors used in the bars, such as using strawberries with chili and cinnamon? I have not seen berries mixed with hot spices before, which is unique and I’m excited to try sometime.

“We do our best to create unique and unforgettable taste. If you could taste our single origin Vietnam bars (we have 2 at the moment) you could see how we can make different taste profile by using same cacao beans with no inclusions. It is really magic.”

 

For tasting these bars, I wanted to make sure some of my coworkers were able to join me in sharing the experience. Some of my coworkers had a free moment to find a quiet room to sample the bars. One of them likes to make loud happy sounds (“MMMM!”) whenever he eats something he likes, which is not only amusing for the rest of us, but also tells us that he’s really enjoying what he’s eating. If I ever start a YouTube channel, I want to make a video with him reviewing chocolate so you could hear when he’s enjoying chocolate 🙂 The others were very new to tasting chocolate, and it was very helpful to receive their feedback.

In a pamphlet that La Naya sent with the bars, it shows at the end that all five of the bars sit together and form one big picture. I neglected to look through the pamphlet ahead of time, so it was actually one of my coworkers who pointed this out. After some rearranging, and though I normally taste from dark chocolate to milk or white chocolate, we decided to taste the bars in the order that they formed the picture. We also noticed a correlation between each of the individual bars and the portion of the picture it held:

Pistachio + Cocoa Nibs had a pistachio tree on it.

Honey + Bread Crumbs held a picture of a field of wheat and possibly bee hives.

Orange + Juniper depicted an orange tree.

Raspberries + Pineapple showed a field of raspberries being picked.

Strawberries + Cinnamon + Chili showed a woman holding a basket full of strawberries, chilies and cinnamon sticks.

I really like the creativity of the packaging!

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Coworker rearranging the bars into one large picture.

Before I summarize my coworkers’ thoughts on all 5 of the bars since tasting with a group is fun though chaotic at times, I’m going to go over my personal thoughts.

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Pistachio + Cocoa Nibs

The pamphlet that came with the chocolate described this particular bar as the “Peninsula of Egoism,” saying that we must “stubborn and brave,” and that the bar is “infused with the emotion of pure self-love.” Other descriptors (otherwise called “emotional structure”) for this bar were “satisfaction, queen’s laughter, trip to the centre of the universe.” Very creative ways to describe how this bar will make you feel and not just taste!

This bar had a strong nutty and creamy scent. It’s a sweet and savory scent that is absolutely delicious! I might want to keep the wrapper at my desk to sniff when I’m feeling stressed out. My mouth was filled with nutty and creamy flavors. There seemed to be a caramel-like sweetness to the chocolate as well. The cocoa nibs gave a nice crunchy texture while the chocolate quickly melted away. I could literally eat the rest of this bar on my own. I might just do that.

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Honey + Bread Crumbs

The pamphlet labels the experience of this bar as “Making Out With Nostalgia.” La Naya’s description of nostalgia is as a lady with no face, who’s always nearby, but when you eat this bar you will “feel her breath again.” Other descriptors include “soft wind, days gone by.”

I could detect the scent of honey and dried bread from this bar. With the inclusion side on my tongue, I tasted the dried honey and bread first followed by the sweetness and creaminess of milk chocolate. The bread crumbs also gave a pleasant crunchy texture. This reminds me of a good breakfast chocolate since it has a nice level of sweetness that balances out the dryness of the rye bread.

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Orange + Juniper

This bar is described as “Ecstasy in Vatican,” and that true joy can’t be hidden while your heart is beating like the bells in Vatican. Other descriptors list “Easter morning in Vatican, sunlight, imminent victory.”

The scent of oranges smacks you in the face upon opening this bar. The flavor of orange is subtler than the scent as the creaminess of the milk chocolate and sharp juniper flavors help balance out the bright citrus. The texture of this bar was amazingly smooth! The juniper lingered longer in the aftertaste.

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Raspberries + Pineapple

This bar is described as “Love At The End of Times.” The pamphlet says that though red means negative things, such as chaos and pain, red also symbolizes love and sunsets. “Love will be discovered at the end of times,” even after hardships. Other descriptions include “apocalypse, dead mountains, eternal flame.”

I was able to smell and taste raspberries and pineapple. The raspberry flavor might seem obvious at first, but then the tartness of pineapple pierces through. I was still able to taste the earthiness of dark chocolate underneath the bright fruity flavors. That earthiness remained in the aftertaste. The texture of this bar was also very smooth. I hadn’t tasted a mixture of berry with tropical fruits in chocolate before!

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Strawberries + Cinnamon + Chili

Last but not least, we have what is described as the “Coast of Solitude.” It’s interesting that La Naya points out in their description that “a common feature of superficial people is the avoidance of solitude,” and that “a desert island may have more life in it than a crowded cruise ship.” They made this bar to represent perfect solitude saying that lonely moments should be freeing. Other descriptions include “the journey of a tiger, songs of angels.”

I could smell all three of the featured items for this bar. This bar took a little longer to melt and I first tasted the strawberries followed by cinnamon, and then the slow burn of chili. The chili was very subtle but grew in strength at the end of my bite. This was an interesting flavor story of all three flavors gradually introducing themselves to my taste buds.

 

Alright, now I’ll share what my coworkers thought. One coworker (the one that goes “MMMM!”) had the loudest, happiest sounds when he savored the Pistachio + Cocoa Nibs bar, and also liked Orange + Juniper. One coworker liked the Honey + Bread Crumbs bar the best, while another said they couldn’t taste the chocolate itself very well. A third coworker like the middle three bars the best, while a fourth coworker liked all of the bars.

I have to agree with the fourth coworker. I liked all of the bars because all of them were so unique even though they worked together to form one big picture (literally). The “emotional structure” for each bar was also very different, so it was like all of the bars combined made for a well rounded experience. I highly recommend reading the rest of the descriptions for these bars on La Naya’s website (the link is below when you click on their name) or if you purchase their bars, you can find these descriptions on the back of the packaging. I will be looking forward to when La Naya will be sold at The Chocolate House so I can experience their bars again!

La Naya: Made in Vilnius, Lithuania

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. 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.

Elements Truffles – Ayurveda Inspired Artisan Chocolate

I was so sad and disappointed to miss the 2017 D.C. Chocolate Festival, but some of my coworkers were able to attend in my place. They happily sent me pictures of their loot and in person I got to sample some of their bars. Not only did I learn about La Naya this way, but I also got to try a piece of an Elements Truffles bar. It was exciting to learn about chocolate brands I hadn’t tried before through my coworkers and I knew some day I had to get my hands on Elements Truffles for myself. I managed to make an order when Chocolate Connoisseur temporarily had a sale.

If you LOVE chocolate and enjoy perusing magazines, I recommend subscribing for the Chocolate Connoisseur magazine. It doesn’t come to you in the mail (it’s their way of saving the trees), but you get email updates whenever a new issue comes out and you can read those issues after logging into their website. Thanks to the October issue, an article written by Eric Battersby (the lead writter and editor-in-chief of Chocolate Connoisseur) came out covering the story behind Elements Truffles. I believe you have to be subscribed to read the full article, so I’ll share some of the interesting points.

Alak Vasa, the woman behind Elements Truffles, grew fond of chocolate through the treats her father would bring back on his trips to Europe. Her favorite combination was chocolate with fruity flavors, like those chocolate oranges. Like many chocolate makers and chocolatiers, Alak started her career in a completely different field but had her own chocolate drawer at work to help her get through stressful times.

What also helped her get through tough times was yoga and meditation, which eventually led her to Ayurveda, a form of food science and nutrition. “Ayurveda is based on the philosophy that the universe is made up of 5 elements — fire, water, earth, space and air — and that these five elements also exist in our physical body.” Depending on a person’s personality and preferences, one or two of these elements can dominate. Meditation and Ayurveda helps the body maintain balance. As Alak created recipes to make her chocolate, she looked for balance and to help consumers experience happiness and an uplifted feeling.

Alak’s chocolate is made using Peruvian Criollo beans and sweetened with raw honey from New Jersey. What sets her apart from other chocolatiers is she uses Ayurvedic “super foods” such as beet and turmeric (which you’ll see soon). The top selling bar is the sea salt + turmeric apparently because “people are very intrigued by the infusion of healthy turmeric.”

On the back of every bar there’s a description of what Ayurveda means, as well as the specific super food in the chocolate.

I could smell both the peppermint and the lavender, though the peppermint was slightly stronger in scent and it was refreshing. I’ve usually foundd lavender to be very strong to the point of overwhelming my senses in dark chocolate, but in this experience, the peppermint was more intense yet surprisingly not overwhelming. The lavender remained relatively subtle throughout my bite.

The rose scent was amazing! It reminded me of this rose perfume my Oma (German for “grandma”) had gifted my sister and I when we were very young. The cardamom scent was subtle, as was the flavor in comparison to the rose. The dried rose bits on the back of the bar gave a touch of salty flavor, but only in fleeting moments. The overall flavor of the strong rose with subtle cardamom was intense but unique.

I could barely smell turmeric, but otherwise the bar smelled chocolatey. I tasted the salt first since I put my bite salt-side down. The sea salt was only sprinkled on the back of the bar, so it lasted for a very short time. The turmeric was subtle throughout the rest of the chocolate. I wish I could have experienced more of the sea salt, but otherwise the subtle turmeric was very nice. I can see how this bar would be the most popular. I wonder if the other bar combinations can seem daunting to consumers not adjusted to more adventurous flavors.

The scent of raspberry was amazing from this bar! It reminded me of fruit smoothies. The flavor was immediately sweet and slightly tart from the dried raspberries on the back of the bar. The beet flavor was subtle, which was a relief since I’m not a huge fan of beet. I tend to stay away from those cold pressed drinks with beet in them, but I wouldn’t mind consuming beet in this bar. Raspberries in chocolate is one of my favorite combinations and this bar fed that preference 🙂

Usually I don’t like orange + dark chocolate since it’s a common combination (you see it a lot in grocery store bars), but orange + pistachio + turmeric is new and unique. The orange scent was very present with subtle turmeric. With the pistachio-side down on my tongue, I first tasted orange followed by subtle turmeric. The pistachios gave a pleasant crunch to the bar though I didn’t really taste them. Like the peppermint in the peppermint lavender bar, the orange essential oil in this bar was refreshing.

My fiancé tried these bars with me and he liked the peppermint lavender and orange pistachio turmeric bars, but his top favorite was raspberry beetroot. My favorites were the peppermint lavender and sea salt turmeric, but my top favorite was also the raspberry beetroot.

Rather than experience an unfolding flavor story, each of the bars’ flavor profile plateaued and didn’t change from the beginning to the end of my bite. Every bar was also similar in that one flavor was dominant while the other was subtle. There was a nice balance between the two dominant flavors with no competition. The texture of the chocolate itself was smooth and it melted quickly.

My fiancé and I came to the conclusion that while these bars offered a very interesting experience, the flavors are quite intense and we’d only be able to savor one bite per day. Despite this, I’m glad to have finally tried Elements Truffles and I was able to try some unique combinations!

Elements Truffles: Made in Kearny, NJ

Chocolate Naive – Ambrosia Dark Pollen Chocolate

I’m so excited because this will be my first time trying one of Naive’s bars! I have seen Naive all over Instagram from fellow chocoholics and chocolate bloggers. I chose to order their pollen bar through Cacao Review’s website because I hadn’t tried pollen in chocolate in so long. I think the last time I tried this combination was with Vosges’ chocolate covered caramels.

Naive’s website says they make their bean to bar chocolate in the eastern part of Lithuania. I had no idea that there were chocolate makers based out of Lithuania until I tried La Naya. I’m so glad we can try chocolate from so many parts of the world!

Rather than summarizing the description of the pollen bar for you, how about you read it in Domantas’ own words for how this bar tastes before I go into what I experienced:

The packaging is very unique in that usually chocolate is wrapped in just foil, paper or plastic. But here the secondary packaging is made of both paper and plastic. I love how it’s made to completely seal the chocolate, yet you can still get a good glimpse of what the bar looks like, including their iconic image of a man riding a unicycle.

Once I opened the packaging, the bar immediately smelled SO good! I could smell sweetness of honey from the bar with savory nuttiness. I tasted honey, malt, creaminess, nuttiness, earthiness and a touch of astringency. The bar was very smooth in texture and melted easily in my mouth. There was a party in my mouth as I savored the lingering flavors before taking another bite. I’ll definitely be savoring this bar throughout the rest of the day.

I’m so glad that my first experience with Naive was enjoyable and I’m definitely encouraged to try more of their bars in the future. If you want to read Cacao Review’s thoughts and experience trying this bar, go here. What I’m very curious about is why they chose the image of a man riding a unicycle for their logo, and the story behind the name Naive. If anyone knows, please share and comment below! I found a great Q&A with Domantas here, but even then there are no details or stories behind the name and logo.

Naive: Made in Lithuania

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.

 

50 States: Tennessee – Olive & Sinclair Southern Artisan Chocolate

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Already before I even started writing this post I found out that Olive & Sinclair have changed their packaging! I discovered this while grabbing some of their bars for a birthday gift because I almost didn’t recognize them on the shelf right away. Their new look still maintains a vintage feel, but rather than earth-toned colors like the picture above, they have brighter, more eye catching shades and it’s easier to distinguish which bar is which flavor. Check their online shop to see their updated looks if you can’t find them at a retail store near you.

I’ve tried Olive & Sinclair before, but at that time I had their Cinnamon Chili and Sea Salt bars. This time I’m trying their Salt & Pepper and (gasp) Buttermilk White bar. If you’ve been following Time To Eat Chocolate, you’ll know I’m not a huge fan of white chocolate. It’s usually too sweet for my taste.

BUT lately chocolate makers seem to be upping their game, or maybe I’m suddenly paying more attention to what’s out there for white chocolate. Amedei makes an amazing white chocolate with pistachio bar, as does La Naya (I’ll be sharing about them here soon). Fruition made a delicious strawberry white chocolate bar that had the perfect pink shade for cherry blossom season and I literally ate the whole bar within an hour.

Also, I recently read on C-Spot’s website that to determine the talent of a chocolate maker is to try their white chocolate since white chocolate uses cocoa butter, a product of the cacao bean. If the chocolate maker uses cocoa butter pressed directly from the cacao beans rather than purchased elsewhere, you can taste the flavor and quality of the cocoa butter better in white chocolate bars where you don’t have the rest of the cocoa solids there to distract your taste buds. How do you tell if the cocoa butter is of good quality? C-Spot says, “Over-roast, & it’s burnt & caustic; poor ferment – it sours & loses mouthfeel to astringency; insufficient drying – moldy or chalky.” If you’re curious, I recommend reading the rest of what they have to say about white chocolate and cocoa butter here.

Anyways, let’s get back to talking about Olive & Sinclair.

Olive & Sinclair is the only bean-to-bar/chocolate maker in Tennessee. Scott Witherow is the founder and began his journey making chocolate after visiting a chocolate producer in Canada and eating a pound of chocolate. Inspiration hit and he began making his own chocolate at home while his friends gave him feedback on his products. Olive & Sinclair began in 2007 and the name quickly spread when Gwyneth Paltrow made a large order.

The reason why the chocolate packaging has a vintage feel is because that was the look Scott liked and was going for. In general, he likes old things. At the time of this article, his form of a melanger began its life as a steam powered mill in Spain a hundred years ago. The appearance of his bars also help him blend in with the southern look that harkens back to the good ‘ol days. Southern Artisan Chocolate is the name of the bean-to-bar line under Olive & Sinclair.

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The cinnamon chili bar had some slight blooming. I could definitely smell cinnamon and chili though I tasted the cinnamon and sugar first. As the chocolate melted, I tasted, I tasted salt mixed with the cinnamon and sugar and the chili began to creep in. Saltiness was the strongest flavor midway through my bite, and “kosher salt” was included in the ingredients list. The bar a slightly gritty texture, though not as gritty as Taza. At the end of my bite, chili was the strongest and remained in the aftertaste. I could not taste the chocolate itself due to all the over flavors overpowering it. My boyfriend and his family joined me in tasting these bars. They said it tasted sweet at first and were hit by the chili at the end.

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The salt & pepper bar had a slight pepper and brown sugar scent (brown sugar was included in the ingredients list). I tasted salt first quickly followed by pepper, then the sweetness of brown sugar. I could taste the chocolate itself this time, which seemed to have roasted and caramel notes. The texture was a lot smoother. It wasn’t as salty or peppery as I thought it would be, which is great!

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Even though this bar on the front is called buttermilk white, the ingredients list includes salt and black peppercorns. It also says unfiltered cacao butter. I can’t say I know the difference between cocoa butter and cacao butter. Is the unfiltered cacao butter freshly pressed out of the cacao beans while cocoa butter is purchased from another supplier? This bar smelled creamy, buttery and salty. I tasted the salt first and then sourness. Salt and sour flavoring remained throughout my bite. My boyfriend and his family also tasted sourness from this bar. Their other words to describe it were “citrus” and “yogurt.” But then I brought the rest of this bar to my workplace so my coworkers could try it, and one of them said it was the best white chocolate bar they ever had, so….

 

I’ve tried Olive & Sinclair’s sea salt bar before and I have to admit that out of their four varieties of bars I’ve tried, that sea salt one would be my top pick. I can’t say I was in love with the salt and pepper bars. The chili and cinnamon bar I didn’t mind, though I wish I could have tasted more of the chocolate itself.

Don’t forget to head over to Eating the Chocolate Alphabet to see which state Trish will be covering next!

Olive & Sinclair: Made in Tennessee

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.

 

Chocolate Brands I’ve Tried

Since my blog has been a personal log of what chocolates I’ve tried, many times while I’m writing a post I’ll look back to Time To Eat Chocolate myself to recall if I’ve tried a specific chocolate brand or company before. The search tool has been very helpful, but I figured it’s time to keep an updated list on what brands I’ve tried. Looking over this list, I’ve tried a huge range of grocery store to craft chocolate. I’ve noticed my style of writing and my taste buds have changed since my first post. I’m looking forward to seeing how this blog and my palate develop over time 🙂

Akesson’s

Alter Eco

Amano

Amedei

Antidote

Baci

Beau Cacao

Bixby

Blue Bandana/Lake Champlain

Bluprint Chocolatier

Brasstown

Brookside

Burke Mountain Confections

Butlers

Cacao Prieto

Canada True

Cao Artisan Chocolate

Castronovo

Cavalier

Cellar Door

Charm School Chocolate

Christopher Elbow

Chocolate Alchemist

Chocolate Con Amor

Chocolate Fusion

Chocolove

Chocotenango

Chouquette

Chuao

Cocoa Vienna

Coco Sala

Commonwealth Joe

Cote D’Or

Cultura

Dandelion

Double Premium Confections

Dagoba

Damak

Dancing Lion

De Ruijter

Dick Taylor

Dilettante

Divine

Dolfin

Dove

Droste

Durci

Dylan’s Candy Bar

El Ceibo

Endangered Species

Enna Chocolate

Equal Exchange Chocolates

Fine & Raw

Francois Pralus

French Broad

Fruition

Gearhart’s

Ghyslain

Glennmade

Godiva

Good Health Cocoa

Green & Black’s

Guittard

Hammond’s

Harper Macaw

Harry and David

Hawaiian Chocolate

Hello Cocoa

Heritage Chocolates

Hotel Chocolat

Hu

Icelandic Chocolate

Ikea Brand Chocolate

Jacques Torres

J. Chocolatier

Jcoco

John & Kira’s

Justin’s Organic

Kacau

KYYA

Kakawa Chocolate House

Karam Bitter

Kinder

Lake Champlain

La Naya

Letterpress

Lily’s

Madecasse

Madre

Manoa

Map

Marou

Mars Bar

Mast Brothers

Maverick

Max Brenner

Meiji

Merci

Michel Cluizel

Milka

Moonstruck

My Chocolate Shoppe

Nathan Miller

Neuhaus

NibMor

Ocho

Olive & Sinclair

Omnom

Ovation (chocolate orange)

Pacari

Parliament

Pascha

Patric

Perugina

Potomac Chocolate

Prestat

Raaka

Ranger

Ritter Sport

Ritual

Rococo

Royal Chocolates

Salazon

Sanders

Scharffen Berger

Schogetten

Schwarze Herren

Shameless Chef

Seattle Chocolates

Seed and Bean

Sirene

Solstice

Southern Artisan Chocolate

SPAGnVOLA

SRSLY Chocolate

Steelgrass Farm

Steven Howard

Sucre

Taza

TCHO

The Chocolate Conspiracy

Theo

Toblerone

Twenty-Four Blackbirds

Undone

Upchurch

Vanini

Vavako

Videri

Violet Sky

Virginia Chocolate Company

Vivel

Vosges Haut Chocolat

Williams Bennett

Wm. Chocolate

York’s Chocolate Story

Yves Thuries

Zoe’s

What’s on my wall?

A while ago I posted on Instagram a picture of chocolate wrappers/boxes I had framed and hung on my wall. Several people asked me why I hung up the bars that I did, and that’s a very good question! Today I’m giving you a close up and my thoughts behind each picture frame.

Several of these bars I like because of personal experiences and you’ll get to know me more because several of these bars brought out memories. Not all of these bars blew me away with their flavor. I’ll give more details when I get to such bars. Remember, if everyone were to make their own chocolate wall, they would all be completely different because everyone has their own stories and experiences. The book “Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love” by Simran Sethi helped me understand that how we experience various foods is different based upon our personal stories and background.

We’re starting off with Beau Cacao’s 72% Serian Malaysia bar! What immediately attracted me was their appearance and eye for detail. Every inch of this bar, packaging and mold, screamed luxury and beauty. And it’s affordable at 8 British Pounds! If your friends aren’t blown away by other craft chocolate that you’ve been introducing them to, you can at least grab their attention with this bad boy. The reason why this bar is on my wall is for their unique appearance as well as the unique and exciting flavor combination. If you want to read more on my thoughts about this bar, go my post about Beau Cacao here.

One of my first coffee + chocolate bars by a craft chocolate maker was this Mocha bar by Hello Cocoa. I remember meeting one of the chocolate makers at the first D.C. Chocolate Festival and the guy was all smiles and so friendly. Since then, Hello Cocoa has generously allowed me to try all of their bars and I still hope to one day try their bonbons and truffles. This mocha bar has stayed on my mind even though I’ve tried it more than once and it showed me that I really like coffee/mocha in chocolate. If you want to read my previous posts on Hello Cocoa, go here.

The main reason why I’m partial to Glenmade is because they are based out of New Jersey, my home state where I was born and raised. They’re even based out of Hoboken, where I dreamed as a child I would one day live and work because I was attracted to the city life but understood NYC was crazy expensive (now I live in the metropolitan area of D.C.). As much flack as people give New Jersey, where I grew up played a large part of who I am today. I grew up in the western part of the state where there was a corn field behind my house and chickens running around in the backyard. I also really enjoyed the blackberry flavor I experienced with this Glenmade bar. You can read more of my thoughts and experience on Glenmade in my previous post on them here.

I had never experienced blueberries in chocolate until I tried Brasstown’s blueberry bar. I immediately fell in love and I’ve had this bar at least three times now! Brasstown has since changed their packaging, but I wish they had kept this old style. The texture of the box felt nice and the watercolor-looking picture of a blueberry bush reminded me of the countryside. My family used to grow blueberries when we lived in New Jersey. I wanted to preserve the old appearance of this bar. Gearharts and Kacau are the only other brands I’ve tried who have used blueberries in their chocolate, but none of them impressed me as much as Brasstown. If you want to read my first experience trying this bar, go here.

Upchurch is on my wall because they’re the only chocolate maker based out of Richmond, VA, the city of my alma mater. To be honest, I wasn’t in love with Richmond when I first started studying there. It took graduating, moving out of Virginia, revisiting Richmond multiple times and then learning that they had their own chocolate maker that helped me start to fall in love with it. Upchurch plans on changing their packaging, and even if the original wrapper was a quick design (learned through a conversation with Alex Brito), I like the simplicity of it. The parallel lines remind me of wallpaper in a southern home. If you want to learn more about the story behind Upchurch and my thoughts on their bars, check out my previous posts here.

Chocotenango is one of my local chocolate makers being one of the three based out of Washington, D.C. Ismael is friendly and approachable and I’ve enjoyed all of my conversations with him, whether in person or online. At the time of my writing this, I’ve been able to say hi to him at weekend farmer’s markets a few times where he has a table set up. Every time I speak with him, it’s more of my listening to him passionately talk about his craft and I love it! I always walk away feeling inspired and educated. I’m on a mission now to try all of his bars because I’ve enjoyed all of them! I was pleasantly surprised that my post on some of Ismael’s bonbons was helpful for a fellow chocoholic who couldn’t find much information on them otherwise. It’s so encouraging to hear my blog helping someone else! If you want to read more on Ismael and Chocotenango, check out my previous posts here.

Will Marx is so down to earth. I was impressed with how approachable and open he was to talk about anything chocolate related. He’s also been very generous to send me some of his silk cocoa butter so I could try my hand at retempering chocolate! Will informed me that the labeling on this package is not entirely correct, but don’t fret because I will replace this with another of his bars when I next make an order from him. Will has also made some interesting combinations, like when I got to try for the first time dried corn in chocolate. I’m definitely keeping an eye on Wm. Chocolate for new and exciting flavor combinations. You can read my previous posts on trying Will’s chocolate here.

Harper Macaw is another chocolate maker that is local to me and based out of Washington, D.C. Besides their mocha bar, this Amazon Rainforest bar is my favorite by them. I’ve enjoyed it at least three times and it was the first bar I tried that truly tasted like raisins to me. Any time I get the chance to purchase Harper Macaw, I throw this bar into my order. I have yet to take their factory tour and I really need to someday. If you want to learn more about other Harper Macaw bars that I’ve tried, check out my older posts here.

This bar is on my wall because I really like its texture. Thanks to Cacao Review, I later learned that the sugar in Amano bars is not ground down all the way, leaving nice larger chunks to crunch on. After my parents moved to Utah and I started learning about chocolate makers based out there, I was excited to try bars that were made local to my parents. Cacao Review is also based out of Utah 😉 My mom has generously shared a lot of her chocolate with her friends out there. Many of those friends also enjoyed the texture of this bar and didn’t even know that Amano was in their state. To read more about other Amano bars I’ve tried, go here.

My first exposure to Amedei was through Instagram. My first purchase of their Chuao bar was at the first D.C. Chocolate Festival and I remember feeling very little confidence approaching their table since at the time I was still getting my feet wet with trying craft chocolate and Time To Eat Chocolate was still relatively new. I didn’t know how to relate to chocolate makers. After experiencing an Amedei chocolate tasting at The Chocolate House, I gained some confidence in learning how to taste chocolate, confidence in learning more about how chocolate was made and I learned more about Amedei’s story. Though the Chuao bar has been one of the most expensive bars I’ve purchased, it still stands as one of my favorite brands because of their complex flavor stories. Their chocolate hazelnut spread is amazing too! Choosing only one Amedei bar to frame was hard, but I chose their white chocolate pistachio bar because I had this thought that white chocolate was not chocolate at all, until Marisol at The Chocolate House told me it technically is (made with cocoa butter). The flavor of this bar and Marisol’s tip helped forever change the way I see and experience white chocolate. I’m now a believer, at least of white chocolate by craft chocolate makers 😉 To see what other Amedei bars I’ve tried, go here.

I used to shy away from trying chocolate bars with chili or other strong spices in them because I didn’t really have a palate that could tolerate spice well. As I learned more about craft chocolate makers and trying their bars, I knew that I would have to eventually accept and be able to appreciate chili in chocolate. Cacao Prieto left a lasting impression because they were one of the very few subtle spicy bars that helped me get used to experiencing a burning sensation when eating chocolate. I also just really liked the flavor of this bar overall. To see more of my thoughts on this bar, check out my post here.

This Steelgrass bar is special to me not only because it’s grown and made in Hawaii, the only North American state where cacao can be grown, but because of the farm’s mission to help restore the natural beauty and plant life of their land before they experienced damage from WWII. In a ways it feels like a long time and very little time has passed since that war ended, and to see it come up again and learn how it has left a lasting effect on the Hawaiian islands opened my eyes to see the harm that war literally takes on land. I think it’s amazing that Steelgrass is attempting to restore the biodiversity of their island, Kauai, and to educate and encourage locals to help them with their mission. To see more of my thoughts on this bar, go here.

Durci caught my attention through their packaging. I’ve always enjoyed space-related images and this packaging fed that interest. I remember picking up this Taino 70% bar at Jane’s J. Chocolatier shop. She said not many people were purchasing the Durci bars she had on display and thought it was a shame. If Jane liked Durci, then I needed to try them! Sure enough, I also liked this bar and it is my top favorite Durci bar out of the six I’ve tried. To see more of my thoughts and why I like specifically the Taino bar, go here!

When Jane of J. Chocolatier had her shop in Georgetown, D.C., I used to stop by very often. Like, every weekend if not throughout the week. If I wasn’t getting her truffles, I was trying out the Francois Pralus bars she had on display. Unfortunately all of those bars I tried long before I started recording what brands and bars I had tasted, but this Chuao bar I didn’t recall seeing at J. Chocolatier. The square packaging was different from the rectangular shape of the other Pralus bars. To be honest, I wasn’t head over heels for the flavor of this bar.

This bar is on my wall because it reminds of the days when I would visit Georgetown and therefore J. Chocolatier often after work. J. Chocolatier was the first chocolate shop I had ever gone to that made their own confections. Before that, I had only ever been to For the Love of Chocolate where they sell a variety of chocolate products but don’t create any. The fact that J. Chocolatier was in Georgetown, an area filled with shopping and restaurants, and in a city, I experienced that feeling of, “Wow, I’m finally doing this!” kind of moment. It felt fancy and I had never been able to experience a feeling like that growing up in New Jersey or while attending college in Richmond. Since then, J. Chocolatier has moved out of Georgetown and she’s set up a pop-up shop near the East Market metro station. For my thoughts on the Francois Pralus bars I’ve tried, go here.

Remember back at the Amedei white chocolate + pistachio bar I said I used to not like white chocolate at all until that bar changed my life and perception of white chocolate? This Fruition strawberries and cream did the same thing. It was SO delicious that I ate all of it within an hour and had a very hard time sharing any of it with my boyfriend. This bar has remained in my memory and… you know what, it’s still in stock on Fruition’s website. I might just order a second bar. You also can read why this bar has stuck with me here.

Potomac Chocolate is another local chocolate maker to me, and even though Ben Rasmussen is planning on changing his packaging, I always enjoyed the minimal, clean appearance of his packaging and straightforward mold. The first bar I tried by him was the coconut one followed by the San Martin, Peru. I recently tried his sourdough bread and spice blend bars, which were also very good! I always enjoy supporting my local chocolate makers and I wish Ben the best as his business continues to grow. To see what other bars I’ve tried by Potomac Chocolate, go here.

Undone is another chocolate maker that is local to me and based out of Washington, D.C. Since I currently work in a research lab, I was really happy to learn that Adam came from a scientific background before diving into his own chocolate business. What makes this bar special to me was that I didn’t like chili or any hot spices in chocolate for a long time. As I mentioned for the Cacao Prieto Domincan Spice bar, I used to not enjoy spicy chocolate and this Undone bar was spicier than Dominican Spice. But this bar slowly grew on me and I’ve now bought it several times. I think because of the cinnamon and cardamom to add sweetness and other layers of spiciness, I started to learn to appreciate the slow burn of chili. I’m now more likely to try dark chocolate with various spices because of Undone. If you want to see what other Undone bars I’ve tried (and my favorite Bolivian Amazon that’s now discontinued 🙁 ), go here.

Ritual’s Novo Coffee was another one of the first coffee + chocolate bars I had tried. Why is it on my wall? Simply because I like the minimalist depiction of tree and mountains. Also for some reason this bar has also just stuck with me as a bar I need to try again. I remember I wasn’t absolutely in love with it, but I want to give it a second chance now that my taste buds have had more time to mature. Seeing this on my wall reminds me that I need to try more Ritual bars at some point. To see what I originally thought about the Novo Coffee bar, go here.

Why is Amedei on my wall twice? Because I like them so much! I’ve definitely had their Toscano Red bar, like, probably five times or more. I think I’ve lost count! 🙂 It’s addictive, delicious and one of my favorite combinations is berries in chocolate. I think out of every craft chocolate bar I’ve tried, this one is the most I’ve eaten. The packaging is also pretty, which doesn’t hurt. Seriously, you need to try this bar if you haven’t! To see why I rave over this bar, you can read my thoughts on it here.

When I first started my journey into trying craft chocolate, I kept seeing Dick Taylor all over Instagram. I had a hard time finding them sold in stores local to me, so I broke down and eventually made one of my first chocolate online orders around Christmas-time. I was curious about the maple and coconut combination. This was unique to me at the time, and I’m glad I tried it! I have purchased this bar least a couple of times now and I’ve enjoyed every bite. I was also intrigued by the story of the owners having been involved in the boat building business before making chocolate. I love it when I see chocolate makers allow previous career influences to be reflected in their bars or packaging. This is similar to Maverick, which is coming up soon. To see my thoughts on my this bar, go here.

Just like Amedei’s white chocolate + pistachio and Fruition’s strawberries and cream bars, La Naya’s white chocolate + pistachio + cocoa nibs bar also changed the way I had originally felt about white chocolate. This bar had something of a browned butter flavor to it that was addictive. One of my coworkers actually introduced me to La Naya through this bar when they purchased it during the second Washington D.C. Chocolate Festival (which I wasn’t able to attend). This bar left such a positive impression that I had to try the rest of the La Naya bars! La Naya was generous to share some of their products with me, which you can read about here.

These last three bars are hanging on another wall and I couldn’t fit them into my original photo at the very top of this post. The lighting was hitting the frames in a way that would cause a lot of glare (I was using natural light), so I had to take photos at an angle.

You know how I was mentioning that I love how chocolate makers allow other influences to be reflected in their chocolate or packaging? One of the Maverick chocolate maker’s background in aviation engineering is shown here and you can’t help but admire the vintage depictions of flight on each bar. The chocolate itself was also delicious. I actually recently revisited Bluprint Chocolatier where I first saw and purchased Maverick and I tried to convince my friends with me to try them as well 🙂 To see my thoughts on this bar (it didn’t last long in my hands), go here.

I actually wanted to frame Solstice’s Wasatch bar because I fell in love with it, but that wrapper got destroyed after I shared it with others 🙁 I had to use the Ecuador wrapper in its place. I’m planning on getting Wasatch again at some point in the future, though! I sent Solstice bars to my mother for Mother’s Day, and she also liked the Wasatch bar the most. Solstice was one of the first chocolate makers I tried who uses resealable wrappers and I really appreciated being able to ensure my chocolate stayed fresh in between bites. Potomac Chocolate is currently planning to make a change for resealable packaging and I fully support that effort! To see my thoughts on both the Wasatch and Ecuador bars, go here.

We end my wall tour with Akesson’s, which I couldn’t ignore. This bar I really liked and I remember I had a hard time sharing it. Yes, I could choose to keep a whole bar to myself, but I find more joy in sharing what makes me happy with others. After trying the 75% Criollo, I remember trying the 100% after hearing good reviews of it. My taste buds weren’t ready for 100% that day, but eventually I will revisit it and I hope I will appreciate it more! I recently picked up a completely different Akesson’s bar that I’ll be trying soon 😉 To see why I liked the 75% Criollo, you can read my thoughts here.

And that’s it! If you’ve made it to this point, you have my gratitude for enduring the length of this tour 🙂 Maybe you agree with some of the bars I hung up and maybe you don’t, but you can always make your own wall of bars and I would absolutely love to see what it looks like! I think a wall like this helps reflect personal tastes and stories that would otherwise not be shared.

 

 

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