I'm on a journey to explore the world of American craft chocolate

Notes From the Underground Chocolate Salon

Last night was a special Underground Chocolate Salon. A friendly, bubbly group of us got together at Voila Chocolat on the Upper East Side and, frankly, couldn’t contain ourselves with all of the chocolate. I told everyone that I wouldn’t take any of the six bars and caramelized nibs home with me, and by, golly, I didn’t! We polished them all off.

If you haven’t heard of my Underground Chocolate Salons, you’re probably wondering what the heck they are. I’ve always been jealous of Paris in the 1920s, when artistic and literary luminaries gathered at Gertrude Stein’s house to talk and hang out: Picasso, Cézanne, Joyce, Eliot, Cocteau. Only one thing would have made it better: chocolate. That’s why I started what I’m calling the Underground Chocolate Salon, for like-minded (or not so like-minded) people to get together and talk chocolate, as well as enjoy one another’s company.

This was also a special salon, though, because it’s the last one for a while. I’ll start them up again in the spring!

We didn’t analyze the tasting notes of last night’s bars as much as enjoy the way they melted in our mouths. So I’m going to do something unusual here, which is list them from favorite to least favorite, without much exposition. 

Here’s what we tried:

Chocolarder Asháninka 70% from Ene River Valley, Peru

The most exciting discovery of the night! They’re a small maker in Cornwall, England who I’d heard of and who kindly sent me some bars. Delicious, delicious, delicious.

Wellington Chocolate Factory 70% Dominican Republic, made in New Zealand

Smooth, creamy, decadent.

Maraná 70% Piura Peru, made in Peru

A bit of bite, lightly roasted. Cool to compare the color of this bar against the Dominican Republic bars.

Valrhona 70% Noir Andoa (Peru), made in France

Creamy, masterful, clean.

Dandelion Chocolate 70% Zorzal, Dominican Republic, made in San Francisco

Lightly fruity, a bit astringent.

Fresco 72% Dominican Republic, made in Washington State

Dark fruit, astringent.

Hexx 70% Marañon Peru, made in Los Vegas

Off tastes, sour and bitter. Arrived bloomed. (Interesting to note that Voila Chocolat's owner liked this one and defended it.)

ChocoMuseo Caramelized Cocoa Nibs, made in Peru

Dessert on dessert

Photo by Charlee Dyroff

Photo by Charlee Dyroff

Voila Chocolat Chocolate-Covered Candied Ginger

Last bites