So, I have a problem with chocolate. It’s not that I don’t like the flavor. I mean, it’s candy for fucksake, so of course I like the taste of good chocolate. I’ve even reviewed a few of my favorites here (the Ritter Sport still my favorite despite the ethical dilemma).
The problem is that chocolate, or more specifically the process by which it’s produced, is pretty goddamned evil. It is, sadly, one of those evils we find it convenient to overlook, because to address it would mean uncomfortable choices. The steps in creating chocolate from the pods harvested in the forest to the actual cocoa are many, and that means a lot of people have to get paid along every step of that process. To keep the prices low, it’s just generally accepted that cocoa growers are paid next to nothing if not outright enslaved.
How that chocolate tasting now?
Now, that’s not to say there aren’t options. Fair-trade chocolate, like that used by Seattle’s Theo Chocolates, lets you enjoy your endorphin rush without contributing to the perpetual impoverishment of an entire region. Do I still occasionally get a mainstream chocolate bar from Nestle or Hershey that doesn’t really care that much how they get their cocoa as long as it’s cheap? On rare occasions, yes. I’m not perfect. But try to remain very conscious about who gets my money. And this small, locally-grown chocolate house is Fringe Candy in the best way possible. Not only do they make a superior product with innovative flavors, they do it ethically.
Theo makes a very wide array of chocolates. I have yet to try one I didn’t like, though the bread and chocolate one didn’t move me as much as others. For the purpose of this review, I picked up their Organic Fair Trade Cherry Almond 70% Dark Chocolate bar. By the way, it’s also non-GMO project verified. It’s 3 oz of heaven. Not too sweet, seeded throughout with chewy bits of tart cherry and crunchy kernels of almond in perfect distribution. It’s heaven. I love fruit in my chocolate. I’ll admit it. True, a bar runs just shy of $3 at the store downstairs from my office, but this is not a bar to be eaten by one person in one sitting. Theo bars are for either savoring or sharing. I prefer to share, breaking it into pieces and walking around the office.
How many ingredients does such a bar have, one might ask?
Hell, if it didn’t have both cherries AND almonds, it wouldn’t even have that many.
When you use good chocolate, you don’t have to use a lot else. And let me tell you…this is GOOD chocolate. Damn if it isn’t GREAT chocolate. A little over a year ago, I shipped five of their coconut curry bars to a Seattle ex-pat living on the other coast because they were needed. You don’t do that for a goddamned Almond Joy.
They make less exotic bars. Straight up chocolate, or mint, or coconut? They got you covered. They also do some amazing, innovative flavors. Pretty much wherever your chocolate desires take you, they will have a bar for you. (Except for bacon, that is. I think they’re one of the few gourmet chocolate houses that resisted that particular craze. But with options like Pili Pili Chili, or Fig, Fennel & Almond, you’re not going to miss the bacon.)
And if you’re in the Seattle area, you can tour the plant, learn about the process, and sample the magic. It’s like Willy Wonka without the creepy guy in the hat, the golden ticket, or enslaving the indigenous Oompa Loompas.
Because, you know, chocolate…