While Portland may only have one bean-to-bar manufacturer (Woodblock), the flavours going on in Oregon are pretty exciting, with the likes of Cocanú, Shagùn, Alma and Xocolatl de Davíd all in the mix. I couldn’t resist filling my suitcase with “a few” bars for Rachel and I to sample back at the shop. Here’s how it went:
Cocanú – Sebastián Cisneros does his best to keep his chocolate ‘weird’. Right on his website it says, “We tinker with chocolate couvertures (from Felchlin) and give them an alternative portrait.” Things like Pop Rocks, Palo Santo wood from Ecuador and Saigon cinnamon can all be found in his beautifully wrapped collection of nine bars. My favourite (and Rachel’s) is easily his ‘Holy Wood’ bar – Felchlin’s 68% Bolivian chocolate infused with incredibly floral, fresh Palo Santo wood.
Sahagún – Two bars from this chocolatier made it back to Edmonton – Oregon Bark and Palomitapapá. The former featured a dark Madagascan base which held rich hazelnuts and fruity sour cherries, both from Oregon. Beautiful. The latter was a bit more complex – Ecuadorian chocolate, exploded corn, chile and fleur de sel. We loved the layers of flavours, though in the end we still weren’t sure about the crunchy ‘exploded corn’.
Xocolatl de Davíd – I wish now, that I would have picked up a few more treats from this company that seems to focus heavily on that glorious salt + chocolate combo with ingredients like bacon, foie gras and Parmesan cheese. I ended up with two bars – 68% Bolivia with olive oil and 72% Ecuador with Parmigiano-Reggiano – as well as his ‘bacon caramel’ Raleigh Bar. Everything was excellent, but by far my favourite is the olive oil. The olive oil gives the bar a great fruitiness, while some smoked salt in the background gives some unexpected texture and savouriness.
Alma – I tracked down Alma at the Portland Farmers’ Market at PSU, after hearing wonders about their confections. I sampled a rose caramel and brought back ginger-almond toffee and Habanero caramel in my suitcase. By far the star was the toffee, consumed by Rachel and I in just one afternoon. Sharp and gingery with perfectly executed, flavourful caramel and a deep, dark chocolate base. I should have bought more.
Woodblock – As far as I understand, this is the only company doing ‘bean-to-bar’ in the area (I think Moonstruck imports chocolate for their bars and confections). Rachel and I cracked their 70% Dominican salt and nibs bar at the shop. While we wished there were more salt and nibs, their chocolate is undoubtedly beautiful, with lots of fruity notes throughout.
Two great sources for chocolate in town are Cacao Drink Chocolate in the downtown area, and The Meadow, a shop in the NE that also carries copious amounts of finishing salts, Oregon wines and bitters.
Cacao features drinking chocolate flights, an amazing selection of bars, confections and other chocolate related items. Plus they have a beautiful, rustic space that everything can be enjoyed in. Walking into The Meadow is quite the experience, and thankfully friendly staff are there to help you choose a bar from their wall of single origin chocolates or fill your container with a new sea salt. And I immediately fell in love with their copious selection of bitters, something so rarely encountered in Edmonton.
I recently chatted with some customers at the shop who said they’ve also tried some of Xocolatl de Davíd’s items; they were amazed at the savoury items he was including in his bars and confections (as was I). What about you? Any combos from American chocolatiers that have blown you away?