Chocolate Fest 2013 is coming to Whole Foods Market this week and I was very kindly gifted with a bag of some of the best chocolate treats from the Waterman Street store in Providence. I eagerly tasted my way though the bag containing nine chocolate products from the Whole Foods Market Chocolate Fest featured vendors. Six bars of chocolate and three chocolate drinks later and I was in chocolate bliss. You can sample these products at the Waterman Street store on Thursday, February 7 from 5 – 7 p.m.
If there’s some Raaka Virgin Chocolate out for you to sample at Chocolate Fest, leap at the chance, especially if you enjoy really dark chocolate like I do. The Raaka Virgin Chocolate Bourbon Cask Aged bar (pictured here) is 83% cacao, which was the “darkest” of the bars I was given and I loved it. To make a Bourbon Cask Aged bar Raaka ages their cocoa nibs in oak casks for one month. There’s lot more flavor going on here than your standard dark chocolate bar, though the cocoa definitely is the strongest. I would be very interested to get some of Raaka’s other bars. Take a look at their site for more info on their fair trade and ecologically friendly practices.
One of my favorite chocolate makers in the United States, Taza Chocolate, is offering a 70% cacao bar with coconut, called Coco Besos or Coconut Kisses. Taza is a stone ground chocolate, produced nearby in Somerville, Massachusetts. Because it’s stone ground it has a very slightly gritty texture instead of a glossy smoothness. While I love and always recommend Taza’s stone ground chocolate on it’s own (their 87% cacao bar is my go to bar), the addition of the coconut works very well and adds a bit more sweetness to the dark chocolate bar.
There were two bars from Vosges Haut-Chocolat to try and I loved both of them. My wife made a claim on the remains of the Bapchi’s Caramel Toffee Bar, and I couldn’t blame her. It’s a milk chocolate bar, a little on the darker side for milk chocolate, and the addition of the buttery caramel toffee with walnuts and pecans makes for a great combination. Though I was partial to the combination in the other Vosges Haut-Chocolat bar, Black Salt Caramel. It’s a dark (70%) bar and it’s really notched up by the addition of black Hawaiian sea salt and burnt sugar caramel.
There were also some drinks to try and while I’ve never been a fan of any packaged hot cocoa mixes, I was completely persuaded to change my mind by the two I tried from Cissé Trading Co. In fact, my wife proclaimed their Signature Semisweet Hot Cocoa the best hot chocolate mix she ever had. It was an excellent blend of really delicious chocolate, including chocolate chips which added a nice thickness to the drink. As you’d expect, I preferred Cissé Trading Co.’s Dark Chocolate with Cinnamon Hot Cocoa. I would recommend whisking the packaged mix with the recommended amount of hot milk instead of just stirring it together in a cup. Mmm, was that good drinking chocolate.
There’s more, but you should get to Chocolate Fest at the Whole Foods Market Waterman Street store from 5 – 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 7 and sample some chocolate for yourself. The other two Rhode Island Whole Foods Markets will also be offering Chocolate Fest sampling. University Heights will hold Chocolate Fest on Thursday, February 7, from 5 – 7 p.m. and Garden City will hold Chocolate Fest on Friday, February 8, from 5 – 7 p.m.