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SEA - best prices/variety for chocolate bars

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I want to put together a chocolate tasting of 6 to 8 brands/percentages for at least 10 people, maybe more and am looking for suggestions on where to find a good variety of high quality chocolate bars, like Theo, Michel Cluizel, Valrhona, Bonnat, whatever, at the best prices. I was downtown the other day and the Cocolate store on Pine street seemed pricey, DeLaurenti was a bit better, but it would be nice to not pay $6 per bar, because I'm not entirely sure work will reimburse me. I'm bringing these back to the Himalayas where I work at a hotel, so it's not like I can just get samples from my supplier because I don't have a supplier!

Thanks for any suggestions!

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  1. Big John's PFI stocks a few and the prices are much better there.

    1. i thought i saw a rack of different high end chocolate at Bottleworks (Wallingford) but did not check out prices or brands closely.

      1. For a big selection of high-quality, interesting chocolates, I haven't found many better places than Metropolitan Market, Whole Foods, and Madison Market (besides the Chocolate Box). Honestly, though, if you're planning on tasting high-quality chocolates of the likes of Theo, Callebaut, Valrhona, etc., you're going to have pay a bit of premium wherever you go.

        If you can make it next year, you just missed the Seattle Luxury Chocolate Salon--a whole day of chocolate tasting from the very best producers.

        Also, the Chocolate Box (the place on Pine you thought was pricey) has in the past offered tours of all the chocolate producers around here, whose numbers seem to be increasing exponentially these days.

        1. I live in Texas, near the offices of the purveyors of the best chocolate in the universe (IMHO)....Chocolates El Rey.....Fredericksburg, Tx. Their 8 kinds of chocolate are too good to miss. All are "boutique", originating from Venezulean Single Bean Growers I hope they'll ship to you. Phone 1-800-357-3999 to find out. Also, sometimes, Whole Foods carries their chocolates, so you might look there.

          Kerr Arts and Cultural Center (Kerrville, Tx) hosts a fund raising "Chocolate Fantasy" weekend each Valentine's day and we will be featuring El Rey chocolates in our chocolate fountains and in desserts at the up-coming event. We tasted last week and were totally "blown away by El Rey"!

          I agree with the other poster about PFI ( Big John's, as we used to call it when I lived in Seattle). Altho' they don't always have the same brands, I used to buy Lindt's there for mere pennies.

          Good luck with your purchases.

          1. For a focus on different percentages, Trader Joes has to be the least expensive source. You can also pick up a few of those brand names there as well. For the full set you'll have to look elsewhere.

            1. I frequent Cost Plus World Market for their Colombian 70% cocoa chocolate. They have a good selection of other imported chocolates as well.

              1. I buy Valrhona bars for chocolate chunk cookies at Trader Joes. I like Callebaut for other baking, but don't want to drive all over Seattle to look for it so I ordered from this company in Portland http://www.chocosphere.com/cgi-bin/we.... They have all the brands you mentioned, but I'm not sure how their prices compare to local retailers. The times I've ordered I found their shipping to be very fast.

                3 Replies
                1. re: gmm

                  PFI often has big blocks and small bags of Callebaut, cheap...

                  1. re: gmm

                    The Pound Plus bars at TJs are supposedly Callebaut... although, now that I say that, I realize I don't even know if they sell the Pound Plus bars on the west coast (I'm an east coaster perusing this board for recs).

                    1. re: pamalamb

                      Yes, pound plus is available here. The name does suggest a European source (500g). TJ also has a couple of single source bars (from Ecuador and Venezuela).

                      I've also stopped by a chocolate shop in down town Edmonds, though I can't say for sure they are still in business.

                      Central Market (several locations) is another option. I've seen some Spanish brands there.