Saturday, March 6, 2010

Chocolate - part one

I tried to think of a catchy phrase ("Imelda Marcos you're in my whey" was a fleeting moment of genius) but I couldn't think of one...and when you come to think about it, chocolate is very simple.  It's sweet, it tastes good, and it usually only has two main ingredients - cocoa and sugar.  People try to make it complex by adding all sorts of weird stuff to it.

I discovered chocolate waaaaaay before doctors were saying "Ya know, this stuff can be good for you - in moderation".  I loved chocolate as a kid - my mom would give me some coin to spend Sunday after church (I won't tell you how much, cos that would really really date me) and I would get either two small bars, or one large one.  The large one was always a Mounds bar.  Chewy flakes of coconut smothered in a thick layer of sweet, dark chocolate.  I guess that's where my love of dark chocolate was born.  When my grandmother would send me a box of Russell Stover candies for Easter, I would eschew the milk chocolate (except for the coconut crispies) and eat only the dark.  Weird kid, I know.

Somewhere on the journey, I lost my fascination with chocolate.  Why? I dunno.  Maybe it had to do with my stomach problems (not interesting or life threatening, more of an occasional annoyance but one of the reasons I switched to unprocessed, fresh food and why I assiduously avoid green peppers and OJ and overindulgence in milk chocolate), or maybe I just grew up (perish the thought! me? grow up?!), or maybe I had kids, and I wanted them to be healthy, so I got rid of "junk" food.

The dark chocolate fixation never really went away though.  Every so often I would nibble a piece here and there, just to remind myself of what I was missing.  When dark chocolate became the fotm ("Flavor Of the Month" for those uninitiated into internet jargon) I was ecstatic.  I decided to try all variations - I mean...if they made them they had to be good, right?  Ummm....WRONG.  Srsly.

Some of the weirder combos I've tried: 

-Dark chocolate with Bacon.  Yes.  Bacon.  At first glance I thought "EWWWWW", but then I thought - I love bacon, I love dark chocolate.  Bacon is salty, might be good.  It wasn't.  It tasted like chocolate-flavored bacon which is pretty disgusting if you think about putting THAT next to your scrambled eggs in the morning. 

-Dark Chocolate with french bread.  Yup, some Frenchman that had too much wine probably slipped on the wet cobblestones after a night of discussing politics in the local cafe, and the french bread he was carrying fell onto the street, along with the melted bar of chocolate he had been carrying in his pocket all night (melted because the arguments got heated - those French can be quite passionate n'est-ce pas?) I know it sounds crazy, but suspend your disbelief and play along with me...So, he gets up, and being hungry after all that wine, examines his precious baguette and notices the melted chocolate on it.  Nonplussed, he takes a bite and breaks out into a drunken lopsided grin..."Magnifique!!!!!"  Umm...Jacques, sorry to burst your bulle (bubble), but no, stale french bread crumbs in dark chocolate does NOT taste that good.  Really, what were you thinking?

I've seen Dark Chocolate with Lavender but I don't have the guts nor the inclination to plop down $3 to try a bar.  Why? Because I think air freshener scents and chocolate need to remain separate.  Just sayin'.

I've also seen Dark Chocolate with Chili.  I think this could be a possibility - but if I want dark chocolate and chile together, I'll just make some Mole Sauce.  If you've never had homemade Mole, you are missing out - I haven't found a restaurant yet that can make a decent one.  But that's another blog post :)

Since Dark Chocolate is the fotm atm, companies are going to great lengths to tout their products - I had to laugh over reading The Nibble's reviews - was anyone a Seinfeld fan? I think Elaine wrote these descriptions - here's a quote:
the chocolate is strong and stout yet sweet enough to counter the fiery ginger, making the bar as a whole very feisty.
Ooook.  Thanks Nibbles.  Now I have an image in my head of a Green & Black's chocolate bar running around shaking their little cartoon fists at someone.  Feisty.

Vosges (the weird people that give you the Bacon and Chocolate bar) also have one called "Enchanted Mushroom" and for all you hippies out there, no, it is NOT what it sounds like...It's "infused" with reishi mushroom powder, which is one of those "supposed to be good for you" things that no one can explain why it's good for you, but the Japanese have been using it for years, so it must be good (honestly, I think those "health food" fotms are only good for the supplier's wallets - just my opinion)

Dagoba Chocolates also have some unique explanations for their odd pairings.  Perhaps they think if they make it sound exotic/romantic/exciting enough, ppl will plunk down cash for not so great chocolate? (I did - for that Bacon/Choc monstrosity that NO ONE liked - I gave it to five different people - all of them love chocolate, all of them went "EW")   They make one with "Chai essence" and I quote:

Chai tea spices, crystallized ginger and milk chocolate create an enlightened east-west infusion. Enliven your body, mind and soul.
Oooh...who doesn't want to "enliven their soul"?  Wow...let me go out right now and buy one so I too, can become enlightened and enlivened.  Maybe I'll give Buddha a run for his money.

Hmm...this blog turned into a bit of a, here's the good part.  Salazon Chocolate Company.  "Salazon" means "salted" in Spanish, so they are the "Salted Chocolate Company", and they sell salted chocolate.  OMG Salazon, muchisimas gracias for keepin' it real. Simple chocolate, simply good, organic ingredients, no weird combos with mushrooms and bacon (sounds more like a quiche)  The best chocolate.  Ever.  Reasonably priced.  Delicious.  Unpretentious.

Simple, real descriptions :  "Our original bar with our dark chocolate and our signature touch of sprinkled sea salt."  Nothing like "Explore your passions and taste the exotic - take a walk on the dark side with our chocolate sprinkled with zesty sea salt - spice up your life tonight!"  Ew.  That is SO not Salazon.
"Roam the world.  Eat salted chocolate" now THAT is Salazon :-).   Experience life, live each day to the fullest, and eat chocolate.  What better philosophy to live by?  All you really need to throw in there is "Love each other"

Salazon has three types of chocolate (all dark):  One with sea salt, one with cracked black pepper, one with turbinado sugar (raw sugar) and sea salt.  All are equally scrumptious.  I have a small piece a day, and tell myself "it's good for you".   The sea salt brings out the chocolately sweetness; the turbinado sugar/salt combo adds more sweetness to those that crave it; the cracked black pepper brings a whole 'nother dimension to the chocolate - the best way I can describe it, is it brings out the "darker" side of the chocolate - the intense cocoa flavor that usually shares the spotlight with the sugar.

I don't work for Salazon.  I didn't even get a free candy bar.  But I do believe in getting good, honest independent companies out there that use fresh ingredients and make a DELICIOUS product.  Hence my romance with Trader Joes, Coffee Fool,  and Salazon.  If you don't have a Whole Foods near you, never fear, you can order Salazon Chocolate online.  Try it just once.  You will probably be cursing me after you do, because you'll be hopelessly hooked (I sent you a couple bars Tina!)

I love a simple, honest product.  Don't go putting weird stuff in chocolate like bacon, or lavender, or chai, or stale bread crumbs.  Put something in it that will enhance the flavor of the chocolate.  After all, isn't that why you bought the bar in the first place?


  1. No you don't work for us, but maybe you should?! Well put. - Salazon

  2. See? This is why I <3 Salazon :-) you made my day!

  3. AH! look you're like, almost famous now! go you. loved this blog and i REALLY wanna try salazon now so maybe you SHOULD work for them.

  4. WHOAH YOU SENT ME SOME?!!!? AAHHHH!!!! you are so freakin awesome lol i can't wait

  5. You should be getting the package any day now Tina :)

  6. YOU ARE SO AMAZINNNG omg so MUCH chocolate :) made my day!!! love youuuuu you're the best