Saturday, March 5, 2016

Cocoa and sugar

I thought I knew a thing or two about good chocolate. I have always been quite a chocolate snob; I will not touch milk chocolate or “white” chocolate, instead opting only for dark, strong chocolate, and none of those highly decorated but tasteless chocolates so many small producers make.
One day in San Francisco Alex and I were walking the streets and needed to find a toilet. We came across a likely looking cafe so decided we’d have a coffee and use the loo, if they had one. I sat at a table, while Alex went and looked for the bathrooms. While I sat there, I read a leaflet on the table and realised we were in a chocolate factory, called Dandelion.
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Dandelion Chocolate is a bean-to-bar chocolate factory in the Mission District of San Francisco, just down the road from Tartine, the famous sourdough bakery we had failed to get into because of the queue. The info said “….we roast, crack, sort, winnow, grind, conch, and temper small batches of beans and then mold and package each bar by hand. By sourcing high quality beans and carefully crafting tiny batches, we try to bring out the individual flavors and nuances of each bean.” “Cool, lets see how good they really are!” I said to Alex, thinking I knew about chocolate. So off he went and ordered hot chocolates and a little treat.
Well, there were several hot chocolates to choose from and whichever Alex chose was simply the best I had ever had, by a million miles! For our treat, Alex chose 3 miniature brownies on a card which explained that each was made with the same ingredients, just using chocolate made from different beans. We cut them in halves. I started at one end and Alex at the other. One bite in and we both exclaimed “wow….. incredible!” Then to the middle brownie…. and ohhhh so remarkably different but equally as good. The third brought the same response. I realised that these people knew more about chocolate than I thought possible.

I went over to their display and read about what they do. They take so much care to choose ethically too. (You can find it all on their website). Hugh makes great brownies, fabulous brownies, but clearly the way the chocolate is made and where it comes from makes fabulous brownies into stellar ones so I bought two little bars of chocolate to bring home for Hugh and I to share and compare.
Dandelion bars only have 2 ingredients, cocoa and sugar; nothing else. The bars are both incredible but so different….. and the only difference is the cacao beans. Each night I have one tiny piece. It is all you need as the flavour lingers on and on.

If ever you are in San Francisco, you must go to Dandelion.

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