Interview with Bo San Cheung & Thomas Delcour of Beau Cacao with Victoria Cooksey

The once London-based bean-to-bar chocolate maker, Beau Cacao, has recently made a big move!  Known for using cacao from Malaysia, having super shiny chocolate bars, gorgeous packaging and the “Chocolate is Changing” motto, where and why did they move and how does this effect their chocolate making?  What does “Chocolate is Changing” mean?  Thanks to Bo San Cheung and Thomas Delcour of Beau Cacao you will find out all this and more below!

Bo San Cheung and Thomas Delcour of Beau Cacao Continue reading “Interview with Bo San Cheung & Thomas Delcour of Beau Cacao with Victoria Cooksey”

Nathan Miller, Hoja Verde & Mashpi Chocolate Bar Reviews

Nathan Miller, Mashpi & Hoja Verde Chocolate Bars Pic in Port Townsend, WA

In the not to distant past Lauren Heineck of WKND Chocolate and Well Tempered Podcast shared these three chocolate bars with me.  I thought it would be fun to in turn share them (or at least my tasting notes) with all of you.

Nathan Miller 71% Guatemala

Color: Medium/dark brown.

Nose: Black tea, floral and jasmine. Continue reading “Nathan Miller, Hoja Verde & Mashpi Chocolate Bar Reviews”

Chocolate Naive Nano_Lot Finca La Rioja Mexico Review

Chocolate Naive’s Nano_Lot collection made in Lithuania features a new chocolate bar every two months.  Each bar is limited so if you see one be sure to get it!

What does it take to become a Chocolate Naive Nano_Lot bar?  To quote Domantas Užpalis when I recently interviewed him: “Scarcity, flavour and background.  I wanted to create the product that constantly evolves and tells a story or two”.

Nano_Lot Finca La Rioja Mexico Pic in Port Townsend, WA Continue reading “Chocolate Naive Nano_Lot Finca La Rioja Mexico Review”

Interview with John Nanci of Chocolate Alchemy with Victoria Cooksey

Most likely, if you have spent time in the craft/specialty chocolate world you have heard of, or often times had assistance, knowledge and overall mentoring from the one-and-only John Nanci of Chocolate Alchemy. John’s very first blog post on the Chocolate Alchemy website was posted on October 1, 2003.  Now that’s a lot of chocolate making, experimenting and experience! Back when it was thought that there was no way chocolate could be made at home John Nanci thankfully didn’t listen and instead paved the way for people to make both chocolate at home as well as start up their own craft/specialty chocolate business.  John continues to share his knowledge through his Ask The Alchemist posts. It  just so happens that John is also a FCIA 2017 Lifetime Achievement award winner.

And now for the interview.

John Nanci of Chocolate Alchemy Continue reading “Interview with John Nanci of Chocolate Alchemy with Victoria Cooksey”

Port and Chocolate Pairings with Victoria Cooksey

Around Valentine’s Day I often see the recommendation to have port with chocolate, but the question is: which specific chocolate with which specific port?  These two delights can dance together in lovely harmony, or quite frankly, the wrong two together can taste like crap.  Not the way to spend a romantic evening (or any evening)!

From an economical stand point a bottle of port goes a long way and as long as you keep the bottle closed, port will last a very long time (approx. six months) unlike a bottle of regular wine. Although with port there is a wide range of cost depending on what you are buying and if it is a vintage bottle.  Where I live, the Victoria Tawny Port is around $15 and the other ports I keep on hand go up from there.

Various Ports I Often Keep on Hand at Home

First, let’s go over a little information about the different styles of port followed by some port and chocolate pairing tasting notes with specific pairing recommendations. Continue reading “Port and Chocolate Pairings with Victoria Cooksey”

Interview with Domantas Užpalis of Chocolate Naive with Victoria Cooksey

Chocolate Naive is a specialty bean-to-bar chocolate maker in Vilnius, Lithuania.  Chocolate Naive has won several awards and Domantas was recently named 2017’s Chocolate Maker of the Year by Chocolate Uplift. After being a fan of Chocolate Naive’s bars, and communicating through direct messaging, I was pleased to met Domantas Užpalis in person at the Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle, WA.  Domantas is great at giving complete, one- on-one, attention which is sometimes rare these days.  Even more recently I had the chance to interview him.

Domantas Užpalis of Chocolate Naive with Victoria Cooksey at the Northwest Chocolate Festival November 2017

Victoria Cooksey: How has your work with craft chocolate changed you?  What changes have you seen in the craft chocolate industry since you started Chocolate Naive?

Domantas Užpalis: My former background is with IT and urban city development – nothing to do with food.  So jumping into chocolate was quite a change and it did change everything.  I have no official culinary education although I was always interested in what we consume and where our food comes from.  I was and still am a proponent of the slow food movement and this is where it all started.  My first encounter with slow food concept was through the making and selling of fresh farm-made dairy products and then I slowly shifted towards more sophisticated produce – chocolate.  It has been  almost 8 years since I became fully engaged with this multilayered product.   Continue reading “Interview with Domantas Užpalis of Chocolate Naive with Victoria Cooksey”

Zotter Chocolate Labooko Vintage 2016 Dry Aged 75% Dark Chocolate Bar Review

In celebration of Zotter’s 30th anniversary they introduced this Vintage 2016 dry-aged dark chocolate bar which is described on their web site as “a superior cuvée made of dry-aged fine flavour cocoa, which we have aged for a year in order to mature its aroma. It is a blend of 5 fine cocoa varieties from 4 different countries, and of course the legendary Criollo is part of the mix”.

Zotter’s Labooko Vintage 2016 Continue reading “Zotter Chocolate Labooko Vintage 2016 Dry Aged 75% Dark Chocolate Bar Review”

Sirene Chocolate 100% Kokoa Kamili, Tanzania & Costa Esmeraldas, Ecuador Craft Chocolate Bar Review

Sirene Chocolate is a craft chocolate maker located in Victoria, B.C.,  that makes bean-to-bar bars with direct trade chocolate.

Their Pure Cacao Pur set features two 100% bars so you can compare Kokoa Kamili, Tanzania and Costa Esmeraldas, Ecuador in one sitting.  The bars are labeled in an easy to tell one bar from the other, in both written word and by the color of each bar’s foil wrapper (gold and silver).

Sirene Pure Cacao Pur  Continue reading “Sirene Chocolate 100% Kokoa Kamili, Tanzania & Costa Esmeraldas, Ecuador Craft Chocolate Bar Review”

Dark Matters Craft Chocolate Awards 2017

I can’t believe another amazing craft chocolate tasting year has past!  That means it’s time for the 2nd annual Dark Matters Craft Chocolate Awards.

I have only included bars I have purchased myself.  I’m also only including bars that I tried in 2017, so some of these bars might be new creations and some may be part of a maker’s permanent collection.

Full reviews of the winning bars are available on this blog or on my IG account.

And the winners are……drum roll….. Continue reading “Dark Matters Craft Chocolate Awards 2017”