This is a post by Marisa Ingram. Marisa is a food Lover and a baking addict with a case of travel wanderlust (more about Marisa below).
It’s the rare visit to the grocery store that I don’t get waylaid in the chocolate aisle. With the large assortment available these days – including many local, artisanal varieties – it is difficult to pick just one. If only there was a way to taste each tempting new variety. Enter the Seattle Chocolate Salon. Returning for its sixth year, the Chocolate Salon allows you to do just that – taste away to your heart’s content. It’s like walking down the chocolate aisle and taking a nibble of each variety that catches your fancy, with the added bonus of chatting with the chocolatiers and learning about their sourcing, philosophy, and inspirations.
While sampling the myriad chocolates there were a few that stood out to me. When I first arrived I asked a woman standing next to me, who had been to every table, which was her favorite. She pointed immediately to Restless Chocolates . I headed over there and was surprised to learn that they are a brand new company, and in fact, today marked their debut. I sampled several chocolates and was impressed with their smooth and creamy milk chocolate Peanut Butter Cream variety. I spoke with the owner and learned that they are hoping to sell in farmer’s markets around Seattle this summer.
Another favorite was Pioneer Square’s Intrigue Chocolate Co. . At first I wasn’t sure about the flavors on offer. But once I tasted them I changed my mind – very quickly. I was impressed with these chocolates for two reasons. First, this was incredibly creamy, melt in your mouth chocolate. Secondly, unusual sounding flavors, such as Basil, were a revelation. Related to mint, a common partner to chocolate, basil surprisingly made an even smoother marriage with chocolate. And I learned that they extract these delicious flavors through simmering in heavy cream. Another favorite here was the Earl Gray variety – it tasted startlingly like a nice cup of Earl Gray tea but in the most perfect, chocolaty way.
The very last chocolate that I tasted was from Massachusetts chocolatier, Taza Chocolate. This one caught my attention due to its deliberately grittier texture. Inspired by traditional Mexican style chocolate which is stone ground, this chocolate’s unusual texture really added another sensory layer to my chocolate eating experience. I liked it enough that I would make a point of seeking out stone ground chocolate in the future. After sampling several varieties I was wowed by their 87% dark. As I was tasting this one it immediately reminded me of something I couldn’t quite place. I finally realized it had the flavor of a rich, dense, flourless chocolate cake – and it ended up being the one chocolate bar that I purchased to bring home. This was a feat indeed, when considering the multitude of options!
Marisa has been an indispensable part of the Foodportunity team for the last two years.
She has a lifelong passion for home baking and a growing interest in all things fresh, local, organic, and seasonal. Though a native Washingtonian, a love for history took her to Charleston, SC where she obtained her degree in English from the College of Charleston. She works in human resources by day, but would love to give it all up for a life of travel.