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Chocolate hounds- new ones to try

Lori SF Jan 27, 2008 11:37 AM

Noticing new chocolate shops opening up everywhere like the soon to be one Hayes Valley.

Need to buy chocolate for some clients- curious to know which you think are superior and just ok. I am only listing local chocolatiers.

I am familiar with all the usual suspects- Scharffen Berger, Joseph Schmidt, XOX Truffles, Guittard, Recchiuti, Charles Chocolates. Wanted to know how these compare with some of the places I have not tried, such as-

poco dolce- bittersweet tiles with grey sea salts, variety of flavors..I like the blue and white simple box.

Woodhouse Chocolates- In St. Helena they look so beautiful.

Cosmic Chocolates- In Oakland, not sure about their tea and herb infused chocolate, but the others sound great. I love their branding and website, fun.
http://cosmicchocolate.com/

On a not local and would not buy as a gift-
Just recently tried Brown Paper Chocolates from Texas I believe are sold at Whole Foods and pretty darn good.

  1. o
    originalfig Mar 16, 2009 09:55 PM

    Funny to see your post! I have just discovered a chocolate that has truly rocked my world - I am completely smitten by Rogue Chocolatier. I tried three varieties yesterday from samples at Say Cheese in Cole Valley and was astounded.

    The three bars all contained the same ingredients: 70% cocoa beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter and vanilla, but tasted dramatically different: one light, of citrus and rum raisin, and the other quite floral and fruity, with a pronounced cherry flavor. Of course I thought that there had been different flavorings added to each, but no! It was simply where the beans were from. I googled the brand yesterday and came up with a super-interesting article from the Minneapolis City Pages on them - apparently it's one guy - a "micro-chocolatier" who does the unheard of thing of roasting his own beans. The article explains why no one else has done this (because it's "the culinary equivalent of starting your own power plant", they say.) The link is here: http://www.citypages.com/2007-12-19/r... (Sorry I can't figure out how to hyper-link it.

    )

    The bars are $6.50 for just over 2 ounces - very expensive - but for true chocophiles I go on a limb to say that the epiphany is well worth it. :)

    The bars I bought were called Hispanola and Sambirano, they don't sell the 3rd flavor yet (the counter guy gave me a sample that they had gotten to try, they've only just started carrying it.)

    Curious if anyone has seen any other place around town carrying them?

    3 Replies
    1. re: originalfig
      emily Mar 17, 2009 04:40 PM

      I just bought one of the Rogue bars at Bittersweet Cafe on Fillmore today. Haven't tried it yet. They have a decent selection of chocolate bars -- also picked up an Askinosie white chocolate + goat's milk + cocoa nibs bar.

      1. re: emily
        o
        originalfig Mar 17, 2009 05:20 PM

        Whoa - goat's milk- sounds totally intriguing. Am curious to know what you think of the Rogue, and what the Askinosie ends up being like. Thanks for the tip, I will look out for it next time I'm on Fillmore.

        1. re: originalfig
          emily Mar 19, 2009 12:46 PM

          I picked up the Askinosie based on a post on David Lebovitz's blog. Here's the post, if you're interested:
          http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives...

          I haven't tried either bar yet!

    2. i
      indigirl Mar 16, 2009 07:04 PM

      I haven't tried all the ones people have mentioned, but I do love love love to distraction the poco dolce burnt caramel tiles. Those things are dangerous!

      What do people know/think of Chocolatier Blue in Berkeley?

      1. f
        foodhist_priestess Mar 12, 2008 08:05 PM

        Loyd Auerbach knows EVERYTHING chocolate in the Bay Area (I think he's writing a book?). His website is www.hauntedbychocolate.com. I was at a party recently where he gave a chocolate tasting (like a wine tasting, but better if you're a chocolate lover). He knows all the local chocolatiers and has more information than I could hold in my poor old head. He seems really nice an approachable. I'm sure he'd be happy to offer ideas too.

        1 Reply
        1. re: foodhist_priestess
          m
          Mick Ruthven Mar 16, 2009 06:40 PM

          Corrected link:

          http://www.hauntedbychocolate.com

        2. s
          sairuh Jan 28, 2008 10:47 AM

          Hi Lori,

          Coco Delice is based in either SF or Oakland. Here are a couple local articles on them:

          http://www.oaklandmagazine.com/media/Oakland-Magazine/December-2007/In-the-Mix/ - "Oakland Made: Mad about chocolate"
          http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

          When I received a package from them, it came from the East Bay (Oakland, Alameda or San Leandro?), fwiw.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sairuh
            Lori SF Jan 28, 2008 12:19 PM

            sairuh thanks a bunch for the info, good to know. They are very lovely and beautiful..

          2. s
            sairuh Jan 27, 2008 04:57 PM

            Have you tried Coco Delice? They focus on flavored ganache truffles, quite a few of them have a pleasantly strong flavor which I enjoy, like the passion fruit, green tea and lime, and spearmint and lime. (IMO, I've found Charles and Lake Champlain truffles rather weak/bland in comparison.) The only somewhat sad thing about Coco Delice is that they don't always deliver (or have available) all of the tasty varieties listed on their site! I'd love to try their elderflower, port or lavender-mead, one of these days...

            http://cocodelice.com/pro_info.html

            Seconding Christopher Elbow chocolates. :-) If you don't mind paying for shipping, you can order directly from his website. Another collection of beautifully designed (and tasting) chocolates.

            http://www.elbowchocolates.com/

            5 Replies
            1. re: sairuh
              Atomica Jan 28, 2008 06:16 AM

              They sell some of the Elbow chocolates at the CocoaBella stores.

              1. re: sairuh
                Lori SF Jan 28, 2008 07:25 AM

                Its hard to find the perfect balance with flavored ganache truffles and Coco Delice does this very well..I agree they have a more flavor than Charles Choc.

                I did not try Christopher Elbow when I was in Cocoa Bella, their website is a beauty.

                This group that I am buying for does not live here and I wanted to get chocolate made in the Bay Area to send.

                Is Coco Delice made here? could not tell from their site, most of all the retail is local.

                1. re: Lori SF
                  c
                  caldennis Feb 29, 2008 09:42 AM

                  Hi Lori-

                  Chef Dennis here from Coco Delice-I happened to be looking for some chocolate info and saw the blog string re: Coco Delice. In answer to your question, our chocolates are made right here in the bay area. At the moment, our production facility is in Oakland, even though our mailing address is in SF (a little confusing, I know). As you may or may not know, we do not currently have a storefront and instead rely on our retail partners (Whole Foods, Pasta Shop) and on our online store to fill the needs of our chocolate fans. We are planning on a retail shop, but probably will not occur until next year sometime.

                  I also noticed that someone mentioned that they did not receive all of our flavors in their box. If ordering from our online store, one can always request a certain flavor combination for their box, by adding instructions upon checkout. We now have 20 flavors in our collection, so depending on the box size ordered, one may only get a partial sampling of our chocolates.

                  Also, just so everyone knows, that the 2nd Annual SF International Chocolate Salon is happening at Ft Mason on Sunday April 13th. We will be there along with lots of other chocolate makers.

                  1. re: caldennis
                    iclee Mar 13, 2008 02:42 AM

                    The Intl Choco Salon is a 1 day thing or does it run a couple of days? Am arriving 16th and wishing....hoping...that it does :(

                2. re: sairuh
                  pilinut Mar 16, 2009 07:03 PM

                  I emphatically second Coco Delice! All this talk about their truffles made me rush off to my stash of their richly-flavored, unmistakably cognac truffles. I've been trying to savor those chocolates s l o w l y, but they are so darn good that what was supposed to be my one-a-day ration is more like three-a-day.

                3. Windy Jan 27, 2008 03:49 PM

                  Cosmic makes a delicious spicy chocolate sauce (for ice cream, I guess, although I put it on apples and thought about warming it with milk).

                  You can try Christopher Elbow's candies at Cocoa Bella until their store opens in Hayes Valley. The caramels I've tried are delicious.

                  Five star is essentially the same as XOX (former employee).

                  I've seen Blanxart bars somewhere recently--maybe Miette Confisserie, or Chocolate Covered in Noe Valley.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Windy
                    Lori SF Jan 27, 2008 05:12 PM

                    Good info Windy, thanks.
                    "Cosmic makes a delicious spicy chocolate sauce (for ice cream, I guess, although I put it on apples and thought about warming it with milk)."

                    Great idea.

                    1. re: Windy
                      j
                      jlafler Mar 16, 2009 12:52 PM

                      I saw kilo slabs of Blanxart (both dark and milk) for $7.99 at The Milk Pail in Mountain View today.

                    2. r
                      Ridge Jan 27, 2008 01:46 PM

                      Poco dolce Aztec Chile tiles are my current favorite chocolate. They are extremely well balanced: not too sweet, rich but not sour or bitter. The warmth from the chile enhances the chocolate flavors. They are extremely satisfying for this chocoholic. In my opinion, Poco dolce is superior to any on the list you have mentioned although I do like XOX truffles and have never tried Charles Chocolates. A non-local dark chocolate bar that is another current favorite is Blanxart “Chocolate Ecologico Negro” organic dark chocolate from Spain.

                      13 Replies
                      1. re: Ridge
                        Lori SF Jan 27, 2008 02:05 PM

                        Have you tried Vosges Oxaca bar how does it compare to the Poco dolce Aztec Chile? I found it a bit too bitter and the chilies did not rise through the chocolate. I love the Barcelona bar though.

                        Where do you get Blanxart “Chocolate Ecologico Negro?

                        1. re: Lori SF
                          rworange Jan 27, 2008 04:49 PM

                          Bittersweet has Blaxnart, but IMO it might not be to everyone's taste. A serious chocolate person, yes but maybe not others. Spanish Table has it.

                          1. re: rworange
                            Lori SF Jan 27, 2008 05:09 PM

                            I agree but I like this type and would not give as a gift unless I knew they liked the high 73% or higher.

                          2. re: Lori SF
                            r
                            Ridge Jan 27, 2008 04:50 PM

                            I wasn’t that excited with the Vosges Oxaca bar either. I though it was just ok, but a little too waxy and the chocolate flavor was slightly lacking. I also tried their milk chocolate with bacon bar which sounds intriguing but was also just ok.

                            I have tried other chocolates with chile and the Poco dolce Aztec Chile is the one example where this combination has been perfected.

                            I bought the Blanxart bar at Dean and Deluca in Napa (St. Helena). Blanxart has different dark chocolate bars and they vary in quality. Make sure to get the “Chocolate Ecologico Negro” organic dark chocolate bar, it’s amazing (at least I think so).

                            1. re: Ridge
                              Lori SF Jan 27, 2008 05:11 PM

                              Vosges Oxaca = waxy yes that was exactly what I thought.

                              I will go try the Poco dolce Aztec Chile, this may become one of those things when you are purchasing for others you buy something for yourself...

                            2. re: Lori SF
                              Ruth Lafler Jan 28, 2008 11:19 AM

                              I love the Barcelona bar, too -- I think it's my favorite Vosges bar. I just finished a really good chile-salt chocolate bar that I bought at Fog City ... and now I can't remember the name. From Vermont -- some kind of woman's name, maybe? ETA: Okay, I went out and bought another one, it's Byrne & Carlson, and they're in New Hampshire.

                              When I when down and bought that I also bought a "smoky spicy chipotle" bar from Richard Donnelly. Wow. It really tastes like chipotle. Delicious!

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                Lori SF Jan 28, 2008 12:16 PM

                                I will check that out Fog City is my weakness.

                                Have you tried the Art Bar- dark chocolate with coconut? It is so goooood! They sell them at Rainbow and The Pasta Shop in Berkeley-
                                http://ithacafinechocolates.stores.ya...

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                  Ruth Lafler Mar 18, 2009 10:36 AM

                                  Byrne & Carlson's Smoky Chipotle chocolate is now available in "palets" (small round-top disks). I bought it at Fog City News for $9.95/100 gram box. This shape really brings out the best in this chocolate, and each palet (about 2 grams) is a perfect size for just a hit of salty, smoky, spicy chocolate. I think these are about to become a staple in my desk drawer.

                                  On the super-splurge front, I've tried a couple of bars from Original Beans (politically correct, direct-traded beans and they plant at least one tree in the rainforest for each bar sold). Political correctness aside, I've tried both the Esmeralda (high-cocoa solids milk chocolate from Ecuador with a touch of salt) and the Beni Wild Harvest (68% cocoa solids from "wild" (not farmed) Bolivian beans). This is excellent chocolate with a lot of complexity and a very luxurious mouthfeel -- and no vanilla, which I tend to prefer. Expensive, though, at $14.95 for 100 gm bars at Fog City.

                              2. re: Ridge
                                s
                                SteveG Feb 29, 2008 11:53 AM

                                Second the Poco Dolce rec--these are my current favorite in the local chocolate arena. I also like that the box is filled with mostly chocolate--not a false bottom or super thick divider between pieces of chocolate--just lots of what we want!

                                I think the sunflower seeds in the Poco Dolce are genius--nicely toasted and nutty, but with a great extra savory dimension that plays against the salt on the top and fits perfectly with the chile/cinnamon.

                                I get their Aztec Chile tiles at Miette Confiserie, are there other flavors? Where do I find them?

                                1. re: SteveG
                                  Windy Mar 2, 2008 05:45 PM

                                  Whole Foods sells Poco Dolce, along with a bunch of other smaller stores (from Avedano's to Yield Wine Bar). I wish I liked them more.

                                  1. re: Windy
                                    d
                                    dreamsicle Mar 2, 2008 10:38 PM

                                    I've only tried the Aztec Chile and it was fantastic, really good-quality chocolate. Lulu Rae Confections on College Avenue in Berkeley sells them in individual (1 serving) packages, so you get to sample different flavors. I don't remember the price, but they were a pretty good deal considering the price of an 8-tile box. I just can't wait to try more!

                                    1. re: dreamsicle
                                      d
                                      dreamsicle Mar 2, 2008 10:40 PM

                                      Address link

                                      -----
                                      Lulu Rae Confections
                                      6311 College Ave, Oakland, CA

                                      1. re: dreamsicle
                                        Atomica Mar 12, 2008 04:49 PM

                                        I tried Poco Dolce's Aztec Chile too (from Avedano's). I guess I just don't like gritty detritus in my chocolate. I have the same beef with similar efforts by people like Vosges.

                                2. Ruth Lafler Jan 27, 2008 01:41 PM

                                  Woodhouse is a somewhat different style than Recchuiti -- more elaborate molded shapes, which means slightly thicker chocolate. They are very sophisticated and delicious, but they are expensive. If you're looking for something local and less well-known, check out Barlovento -- they only sell at a couple of farmers markets (Grand Lake in Oakland and Palo Alto) and at Lulu Rae confections in Oakland, but if you contact them directly they could undoubtedly put some boxes together for you. They're the unmolded squares of ganache enrobed with chocolate with designs on top style, and the flavors are wonderful and yet not too weirdly exotic. The Meyer lemon, the mint (tastes like mint leaves) and the blackberry are my current favorites. Super nice people, too.

                                  Previous thread on Barlovento: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/413588

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                    Lori SF Jan 27, 2008 01:48 PM

                                    Never heard of those, thanks so much.

                                    1. re: Lori SF
                                      rworange Jan 27, 2008 04:39 PM

                                      Here's the Barlovento website.
                                      http://www.barloventochocolates.com/

                                      They seem to have some sort of shop on 2nd St in Oakland now that is open for retail mon-wed and fri. I forgot about them saturday at Grand Lake. I wanted to try the tarragon.

                                      There is also Michael Mischner in Oakland. If you search the board you can find some recs on which flavors I liked ... sorry, I'm not lazy it is just the board is so slow for me it is hard to search.

                                      Anette's in Napa has an old-fashioned style like See's. However, they do some good boozy chocolates like winter chardonnay. The only one I didn't think much of was the port. The alcohol is in the background and lingers toward the end. The BEST thing there are their sauces though, expecially the caramel brandy sauce.
                                      http://www.anettes.com

                                      I don't know how many Whole Foods carry them, but all the mega Whole Foods that have chocolate counters carry Cosmic. So they might night be so unique to the Bay Area. Ditto on Charles Chocolates being availabe across the country (not Whole Foods that I've noticed).

                                      1. re: rworange
                                        Lori SF Jan 27, 2008 05:06 PM

                                        you turned me on to Michael Mischner another to add to a list. Anette's I have not heard of and most people like See's so good suggestion.
                                        I don't want anything sold from Whole Foods as a gift, because they are everywhere.. so good to know on the Cosmic, although I will check out for myself.

                                        1. re: Lori SF
                                          Ruth Lafler Jan 28, 2008 11:17 AM

                                          I'm not crazy about Anette's whole line, but some individual items are excellent. I love the apricot cream -- not too sweet and with tiny bits of dried apricot. For something different, their spicy beer brittle is really good!

                                  2. farmersdaughter Jan 27, 2008 12:32 PM

                                    I am addicted to the bittersweet chocolate tiles by Poco Dolce that you mentioned. Woodhouse Chocolates in St. Helena are good, but not as good as Michael Recchiuti's and are *very* expensive. I'd go with Recchiuti any day, or for a more homemade looking one, XOX. Also there is a chocolatier on Divisadero that is in the style of XOX truffles, but the name escapes me.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: farmersdaughter
                                      Lori SF Jan 27, 2008 01:11 PM

                                      5-Star I forgot about that place been meaning to try it- thanks

                                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/365290

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