Food & Cooking · Seen/Heard/Tried · Tried

Chocolate tasting

Years ago we went to the Museu de la Xocolata in Barcelona, a small piece of heaven where your tickets are chocolate bars and your taste buds fill with delight. The chocolate museum has all kinds of activities and opportunities for tastings, and it was there that I had my first ever experience with thick, rich, decadent Spanish hot chocolate. Tasting the drink was like falling in love.

Falling in love is what enjoying really good chocolate is supposed to feel like, according to Simran Sethi, host of my newest podcast obsession, The Slow Melt. In her podcast, she also says awesome things about being your own sexiest sweetheart, and buying the good chocolate for you. And while I love that sentiment and am most certainly not opposed to buying myself chocolate, I did have to buy some good stuff for Chad on Valentine’s Day (I just forced him to share with me 😉 ).

We’ve been doing a lot of chocolate tasting lately, especially since I received The Chocolate Tasting Kit for Christmas. I am already starting to see differences in chocolates as we try them, and have also learned a lot about how to taste chocolate and how it’s made. Pairing the kit with The Slow Melt, I’ve been gaining a lot of knowledge about chocolate, and I can’t wait to start working with specific coffee pairings as my palate develops! My favorite recent chocolate tasting? Black Salt Dulce de Leche Bonbons from Vosges Haut Chocolat. 62% dark chocolate sprinkled with black sea salt crystals = something I could melt into my chair over.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BOVOD3eA5JE/

If you can’t get your hands on some good chocolate as soon as your taste buds would like, get some eye candy by checking out The Slow Melt’s Instagram, and enjoy some sweet listening by subscribing to the podcast!

Have you tried any wonderful chocolates lately? Please do share your favorites!

xx Caitlyn

PS: can you imagine being gifted Vosges Haut Chocolat’s Travel the World through Chocolate Steam Trunk!? A most indulgent, luxurious gift if there ever was one!

Reviews · Tried

Review: Theo Chocolate

Gazing across the bars of chocolate in my local supermarket, I noticed quite a few bars I hadn’t seen before. It was exciting for me to see so much quality chocolate available, and I decided to choose a new kind to try! Although it was tough to decide between several appealing bars, this time I chose Theo Organic Fair Trade Coconut 70% Dark Chocolate. IMG_1435Surprisingly, I hadn’t heard anything about Theo Chocolate before coming across it in the candy aisle. However, I loved the simple packaging, the Fair Trade Label (among others) posted along the bottom, and the thought of coconut playing a role in the chocolate bar. IMG_1436Every time I try chocolate (whether it’s for the first time or what feels like the hundredth), I always begin by smelling it. As you would expect, this bar of chocolate smelled very much like dark cocoa with just a hint of sweetness. I couldn’t taste the coconut when I took a bite, but the coconut definitely contributed to the overall texture of the bar. Unlike bars that have crunchy nuts or soft dried fruit, the coconut in this Theo bar adds a texture in between the range of crunchy and soft. And although the coconut flavor isn’t especially pronounced, it seems to add a bit of toasty sweetness to the bar that breaks up what could otherwise almost be an overwhelming amount of dark chocolate. I would be interested in pairing the chocolate with coconut water to see if the coconut notes would become more perceptible. IMG_1437After trying Theo chocolate, I visited their website and decided I LOVE THEM. Here’s why: Theo Chocolate is passionate about the journey from bean to bar (and you know how passionate I am when it come to coffee and its journey from bean to cup!). On their fact sheet, Theo Chocolate touts that “Theo is founded on the belief that there is a common thread that binds us, from the cocoa farmer to the chocolate lover, and [they’re] devoted to making our world a better place.” YES!

The fact sheet also states that Theo Chocolate is the first and only bean to bar maker of Organic, Fair Trade, Fair for Life and Non-GMO Project verified chocolate in North America. That’s a reason to try Theo Chocolate if there ever was one, if you ask me! I am looking forward to trying out other flavors of Theo Chocolate in the future.

xxCaitlyn

Food & Cooking · Seen/Heard/Tried · Tried

Chuao Honeycomb Dark Chocolate

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about chocolate, but believe me: it hasn’t left my heart. It’s just that I haven’t had many opportunities to indulge in specialty chocolates lately. Fortunately, yesterday I went to World Market and came across Chuao chocolate bars. I saw a Honeycomb flavor and knew I had to try it!

20140416-195420.jpgOn the package, there is a description of the “experience” of eating this chocolate bar: “Crunchy bits of golden, caramelized honey mingle with deep dark chocolate, like secret lovers meeting on a warm summer night. Sweet and decadent, the Honeycomb bar will charm you, one nibble at a time.” Phew! Is it getting hot all of the sudden? I’m surprised a chocolate bar that sexy doesn’t melt just from the description! 😉

20140416-195428.jpgBefore trying the bar, I knew that I liked a couple of things about it: Firstly, Chuao ethically sources its cocoa. Secondly, Chuao chocolates are 100% natural, without hydrogenated fats, artificial preservatives, artificial colors and flavors or artificial sweeteners.

20140416-195435.jpgI broke off a hunk to split with Chad, and observed the little crispy bits of honey visible. I had sort of hoped there was going to be actual honeycomb covered in the dark chocolate, but upon reading more carefully I realized there were only caramelized pieces of honey. (Out of curiosity, I looked up how much honeycomb costs, and it can range from around $11 to $30 and up for just 8 ounces!)

Any tiny bit of disappointment at feeling misled by the picture was replaced with pleasure as I took my first bite. The dark chocolate was rich and lovely, and the bits of honey lightened the overall feel of the chocolate in my mouth. The texture actually reminded me a lot of sea foam chocolate, which of course got me looking up recipes for sea foam, which led me to finding this nice video with an easy recipe for honeycomb sea foam:

Overall, I enjoyed the Chuao chocolate. I’d be interested in trying their Pretzel Toffee Twirl Bar or their Whisky Pairing bonbons. Which would you like to try?

Learning · Seen/Heard/Tried

Wednesday Learning

This week I am learning/have learned about two things: the Lewis and Clark expedition, and chocolate. Of course I knew a bit about both to begin with (well, we could argue I knew a lot about the latter topic), but I wanted to learn more and I’ll tell you why.

Firstly, the topic of Lewis and Clark. This May we’re planning on visiting some states in the west, including Oregon. I am so excited about visiting the food stalls, Voodoo Donuts, various museums and breweries, and also…walking on the same trails as Lewis and Clark did! We’re starting to plan our trip, and I’ve been really big into the research involving Oregon. I’ve felt the calling to reread Stephen Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage, to watch random youtube videos about the expedition (see below), and to spend too much time on sites with interactive maps.

 

Secondly comes the topic of chocolate (*drools*). It came to my attention recently that a Japanese native named Susumu Koyama was awarded the title of Top Foreign Chocolatier by France’s Le Club des Croqueurs de Chocolat two years in a row. Koyama has a confectionary shop in Sanda, which is in Hyogo  Prefecture (we live in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture), and one of my friends who lives near the shop says there are always massive queues of cars outside. Putting these bits of information together, I concluded that I must try some of Koyama’s chocolates before I left Japan!

Fortune struck with Valentine’s Day on the horizon. Department stores in big cities around Japan are stocked with various chocolates from the very best chocolatiers for the season, so once shops started their “chocolate events,” I was on a mission. I first went to one of the events in Osaka, only to find that the chocolates famous for winning the award were sold out! Luckily I was still able to soak in the artistry of all of the chocolates on display in the brightly-lit glass cases, to dream about the textures of the delights, and to sample a few as I walked around. Oh the joy!

Finally, I was able to procure the chocolates I’d been searching for in a department store in Sannomiya:

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So now, the verdict.

Well.

We weren’t that impressed. Numbers one through three were nice enough–they had a harder shell with creamier chocolate inside. Number five, the Ninja Chocolate, had a taste like you might experience after breathing in campfire smoke too closely–like you’re chewing on a piece of soft bark, almost. They sure were pretty, though. And expensive *cough, cough* over 1500 yen *cough, cough*

Despite my disappointment, I feel like I might have to give Koyama another chance with some of their other chocolate selections. After all, they’ve kept the title for two years now, right? In the meantime, I think I’ll just stick with a good old Meiji bar.

What do you think? Do you know any cool facts about the Lewis & Clark Expedition, Oregon, or chocolate? Leave me a comment and let me know!