The second annual Seattle Luxury Chocolate Salon is coming up again on July 12. I was a judge last year and was impressed with the wide range of chocolatiers that showed up to sample their wares, and at $20 for an adult advance ticket I thought it was a darn good deal.
I won't be able to attend this year, but somehow I still had the good fortune to receive a few advance samples from two of my favorite places: Theo Chocolates and Chocolopolis. Sometimes it is good to be a blogger!
Theo sent along a 91% Costa Rica bar that was amazingly smooth for such a high percentage, and a 45% milk chocolate that completely redefined my understanding of the light stuff. It has a complex, caramelized flavor that I could go back to over and over. Also included was a coffee & dark chocolate bar done in concert with Caffe Vita, and these incredible ghost chile & sea salt caramels.
I had the opportunity to tour Theo a couple months ago with a group organized by Keren Brown (aka the Frantic Foodie). I was amazed at what a small, committed group of people can do. How many chocolate companies do you know that have two Ph.D.'s on staff, one who specializes in the anthropology of cacao and another who is helping growers around the world improve the quality of their beans and processing? Or that have already been featured on Oprah? Or that partner with Jane Goodall? Or that uses only organic, fair trade beans? Amazing stuff. I can't even begin to tell you their whole story, you should just go visit them and take the factory tour, or if you live far away, peruse their site and buy some bars.
Chocolopolis also deserves lots of love. Chief Chocophile Lauren Adler curates ultra-high quality bars and confections from around the world, gathering them all at her small Queen Anne shop. It is a terrific place to taste, learn about chocolate, and come home with goodies you can't find anywhere else. They also make some awesome stuff on-site. The fig filled with anise ganache and dipped in 72% chocolate was one of the best bites I've put in my mouth in a long time.
Speaking of local Seattle companies, take a minute to sign up for the ChefShop.com newsletter and you have the chance to win $500 worth of their products. Their products are awesome.