There are few things I love more than chocolate. And most of them do not include food. So there you go. In the early days of our relationship, Matt made a habit of stopping by Fog City News, a fantastic little shop in downtown San Francisco that curates and sells some amazing chocolate bars. He’d come over to my house and pull out a new, undiscovered bar from his pocket and after dinner, we’d break it open and discuss it. I’d never been particularly academic about chocolate, but the more I tried, the more eating it became fun not only because it was so tasty, but because it made me feel like I was on a panel of judges. And before me, sat a chocolatier.
We cut back our chocolate habit a bit (after we had gone through some thirty bars or so), but one day this summer, I stopped by Fog City and decided to pick up my own selection. I was immediately drawn to a bar by Xocolatl de David, a choclatier from Portland, Oregon. We had recently taken a trip to Portland and visited another chocolate shop, so I was interested in this smoked paprika and roasted almond bar. It sounded odd, but I knew I had to try it. To this day, I can honestly say it is the best chocolate bar I have tasted. Beyond the dark, rich, and creamy chocolate, I loved the light hint of smokiness from the paprika and the delightful crunch of roasted almonds. It satisfied every taste bud.
When I found David on Twitter, I asked him if he had other bars I could try. He kindly sent over a few samples, all of which Matt and I carefully unwrapped and tasted over the course of several weeks. His Orangette bar reminded me of Paris – great, big, pieces of candied orange peel were tucked into thin, delicate chocolate, without being overpowering or too sweet. His salted caramels were nothing like any caramels I had ever tasted. So gooey that they could be stretched across the table. Their flavor was complex, too. Not just sweetened caramel, but a bold, rich, smoky taste that reminded me of a strong bourbon or whiskey, enjoyed bite by bite, and only one at a time.
Then there were his short, stout bars – which, in size resembled the candy of my childhood – snack sized Snickers and Mars Bars. In fact, Matt declared the Raleigh Bar, a gourmet Snickers bar, packed with that powerful gooey caramel, a rich nougat, and a layer of chocolate. But David took it up a notch too. You got it: bacon. His bacon caramel Raleigh bar was no joke: bacon + chocolate + caramel + nougat. I savored every tiny bite. Lastly, we opened the salted caramel bar – a thin bar of chocolate laced with his handmade caramel. It was delicious, as all the others, but perhaps my only complaint with this one was that the caramel was slightly hard to eat in the form of a bar. Regardless, when the last piece was gone, I mourned my stash of Xocolatl de David.
David’s bars are for true chocolate lovers. People who appreciate hand-made confections. People who don’t mind experimenting with interesting flavors. And people who see eating chocolate as a an experience. Of every piece of chocolate I tried, it’s hard for me to pick a favorite. They’re all so unique that I still think about them. On my next trip to Portland, I definitely plan on stopping by David’s shop.
For those of you interested in trying his bars, you can order them directly from his website. I think they’d be great gifts for your fellow chocolate fiend. If you’ve tried his bars before, I’d love to hear which ones you liked!