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Mar 3, 2010 06:25 PM

Buying High-End Chocolate in San Diego

Where is the best place to buy higher-end chocolate brands in SD? I'm looking mostly for brands like Amano and Askinosie. I've heard that Cafe Callabria sells Amedei, but other brands do they sell?

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  1. Venissimo Cheese has a good selection of higher-end chocolates, but I don't recall seeing any of the particular brands that you mention. Also at some of the local Farmer's Markets one can find Guanni, which produces a very fine, though rustic, chocolate. There are several chocolatiers in San Diego that also operates their own storefronts, such as Chauo, Eclipse, and Chi. They all vary quite a bit in style and focus, so it'll be tough to say if any of them would be a good match for you.

    What "style" of chocolate are you looking for?

    5 Replies
        1. re: nicky63220

          Are you looking for perhaps "plain" bittersweet chocolate bars of single-origin cocoa beans that is as dark as possible while not turning waxy or dull? A bar that's not much more than cacao and (a little) sugar?

          If so that's what I favor too, and in particular I'm very fond of the Venezuellan Criolos. (They actually remind me in profile of the Ethiopian Yrgacheffe coffee beans that I roast at home. I find that the Criollos, like the Yrgacheffe, has a pleasing brightness that prevents it from ever tasting muddy, while showcasing some nice floral overtones...)

          Though Chuao specializes in the Criollos, they seem to do almost nothing in terms of plain bittersweet chocolate. The closest (and darkest) they get are in their shells, which I find still too sweet for what I am looking for.

          I've about given up on the boutique chocolates except for the periodic find at Alexandria's The Curious Grape in VA, w/their fantastic selection of single-origin chocolates.

          In the meantime I find I get close enough to satisfy my whims with much less hassle by picking up (from Trader Joe's, no less!) a single-origin bar by Choco Vic called Ocumare, made of Venezuelan Criolos at 71%. I still wish it to be a bit darker, but you can't beat the price.

          Another one that I pick up regularly at Nijiya Market are boxes of Venezuelan Bitter made by Morinaga, packaged under their "Carre de Chocolat" brand. This one's noticeably sweeter than the Trader Vic's, but it does come very nicely packaged in tiny individually wrapped squares, which helps me control how much I consume!

          I'd still kill for a very finely made and bittersweet plain Criollo bar, but I've yet to find one that's both smoothly textured and nicely on the bitter side of bittersweet. (Though you should check out Guanni as I feel they come close, though they add nibs for crunch and is a bit rustic in style so is not the "pure" bar that I'm looking for.)

          1. re: cgfan

            yes I'm looking for a plain single origin bar with about 65-80% cacao content. Do they still sell the Ocumare at Trader Joes because I have never tried it, but used to see it. I'd definitely try it if I could find it.

            1. re: nicky63220

              I don't go to TJ's these days as often as I used to, but the last time I was there I saw some. The Ocumare's my favorite, though they have 3 in their SO line. (I think the Ocumare is 71% using Criollo's...)

      1. On the same topic, does anyone know of a retailer that sells Fran's chocolates? I'm trying to find their sea salt sprinkled chocolate covered caramels.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Katherine H

          Whole foods in hillcrest stocks the frans sea salt caramels but I prefer Dallmann confections as the caramel is darker. Both are available in the display case :)

          1. re: Katherine H

            Whole Foods in UTC also has Fran's.

            1. re: Katherine H

              ive seen them in the Carlsbad Sur La Table at the counter. Oh and I've found Askinosie at Baker and Olive in Encinitas