Have you ever watched the TV show Leverage? If not, you really should because it’s perfection. Basically Oceans 11, the series, but there’s only 5 of them. Or a modern Robin Hood. Or…you know what? I’m getting off track. The leader of the merry band is an alcoholic, and he sets up shop, for most of the series, upstairs from a bar.
It’s pointed out to him what a bad idea that is.
When you have a problem, ease of access to your given vice is, to put it mildly, a bad idea. But hey, that kind of tension creates some good stories in the world of fiction. So bad idea, but good entertainment.
A high-end, nay, FRINGE candy store opened up in my neighborhood by the name of Violet Sweet Shoppe. It’s on my bus route. I pass by it every night on the way home. In fact, there’s a stop right goddamned in front of the store. The same stop I get off at when I go to meet friends of mine who live a block away. (It is, in fact their second location which only sells candy. Their primary store is not as convenient and is a vegan bakery. It looks delicious. Fucking Seattle. It is what it is.)
So, in general, fuck my life. I know my strengths. I know my weaknesses. And I knew that eventually I was going to end up going there. And if you haven’t been paying attention to the world of fancy candy in the past few years I have some news for you: it’s a hipster fringe candy geek’s Garden of Earthly Delights out there.
I’m not even going to go into the goddamned preciousness of the name. (Shoppe? Sure. Because when I’m buying expensive candy, I want to think of motherfucking Chaucer.) The interior has shelves along the sides and two small, round tables stacked high with chocolate bars I’ve never freaking heard of before (along with glass containers of taffy-like chews and other delectables). The clerk was helping the other sole customer for a bit, and when done, turned her full tattooed charm upon me.
“Can I help you find anything?”
Gotta admit, I was overwhelmed. Maybe she saw me drowning and was lowering me a branch. Usually I can recognize most brands of sweets. Not the case here. I hadn’t heard of most of the chocolatiers represented there. And they had no white chocolate which I’ve been on the lookout for on account of my cohort’s recent white chocolate cravings. So I got handful of chocolate chews because I like that kind of thing, and a single bar of chocolate.
Why the Parliament Chocolate bar, you may ask?
Other than instinct, which is usually pretty good when it comes to candy, I liked the simplicity of the design. Nice font choices. An owl (which what I can only assume is a walrus mustache) done in the same black ink on an eggshell white cardstock with a nice tooth to it. Plus, it’s from Redlands, California where one of my brothers lives. I like Redlands. It’s a cool town. I’ve since gone to their site and checked them out and I love their mission statement, their commitment to fair trade and artisanal, small batch chocolates. I would totes share a craft brew with these guys. Maybe a regional wheat beer with slice of orange straight from the groves in Redlands while we talk about the Kimberly Crest Manor or something.
I love that they have 3 flavors of chocolate bars differentiated not by additives (mint, nuts, tortilla chips), but by where the single origin cacao comes from. Yeah. That’s right. Their flavors are Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Guatemala. And if the tasting notes are accurate (and I have zero reason to suspect otherwise), each are distinctive.
The Parliament bar is small. Only 1.7oz, but it’s rich like Scrooge McDuck with flavor. It has only two ingredients: cacao and cane sugar. The cacao (or cocoa to you neophytes) of the one I tried is ethically sourced from the Dominican Republic and is a nice, mellow 70%. The chocolate has a nice, sublime bitterness but isn’t overwhelming, and it melts smoother than satin. It has a complex finish and deserves to be savored.
This sumbitch will transport you. This is the kind of chocolate that can end a feud.
At around $6 a bar, it’s too pricey for every day consumption. But who says chocolate needs to be an every day treat? This is a chocolate to be shared among loved ones, broken out for special occasions like a great day at work, anniversaries, or when you just want to spoil yourself. Pair it with a good, bold red wine and turn it into a party. You’re an adult now. Live it up.
I mean, shit, you probably can’t afford that new Audi, but you can spring for the fancy chocolate. You deserve it.
If you can find it.
That will not be a problem for me. No, my problem now will be too much access.
Pray for me.
One thought on “Fringe Candy: The Hipstery Zen of Parliament Chocolate”
I passed in front on Sunday. Looking in, I thought, “This seems another one of those super-high-end shops that barely sells anything and most can’t afford.” It did not help that it was decked out for Valentine’s so the whole place looked like it was a glowing, pink light spewing an aura that drew the wealthy and repelled the masses. I had a hard time seeing what they were really selling and if a customer had much choice. Now, with your recommendation, I will take the leap and jump in for a look. I’ll make sure to have a ten’er on me in case I find a small bite I’d like to sample.