When I was embarking on my college career my uncle told me to touch, taste and try everything in this world. He told me, “It is the only way to live.”
I try my best to take his advice, especially when it comes to food. This spring I was strolling through the Lakes Park Farmer’s market with several children trailing behind, when a stall with this display caught my attention.
I asked the kids if they wanted to see what real chocolate looked like. I had no idea that I was about to rediscover chocolate.
The woman on the other side of the table graciously offered us samples of her Mandarin Orange 61% Cacao Dark Chocolate and Toasted Almond with Hickory Sea Salt in a 73.5% Cacao Dark Chocolate.
I buy nature am not a fan of mandarin, and I wasn’t sure how the kids would feel about nuts or dark chocolate. However, I had to heed Uncle’s advice as well as lead by example.
It was an incredible tasting experience. I think the world actually stopped spinning.
The “Mandarin Orange” has actual Mandarin Orange segments incorporated into the chocolate. The 61% Cacao base has soft hints of apricot and plum. It turns out the incredibly butter soft texture is a result of the high cacao butter content. It is a winning combination. The kids were quiet for the first time that day. They too were lost in a moment of bliss.
The question remained would my pint sized critics also enjoy the ultra dark “Toasted Almond with Hickory Smoke Sea Salt” with 73.5% Cacao Dark Chocolate?
The chocolatiers roast the almonds to bring out the layers of flavor and then dust them with a little Hickory Smoke Sea Salt. Hickory Smoke Sea Salt is what has been missing from my chocolate all these years. My mouth quite literally is watering at the memory.
The 73.5% Cacao base is a smooth and earthy with just a hint of spice. But again the wise chocolatiers at Once Upon a Bean have added a higher cacao butter ratio for a truly pleasing texture. There is none of the chalkiness or bitterness often associated with inferior dark chocolates.
The kids had their doubts about the nuts. However, they bravely followed my lead, tasted and asked for more.
Another reason to indulge: both chocolates are created from a Single Origin Venezuelan Cacao that is both fairly traded and grown without pesticides.
Once Upon a Bean does not have a brick and mortar shop of their own but are found at farmers markets and specialty shops across Southwest Florida. The Franklin Shops in downtown Fort Myers will begin selling their chocolates and hosting tastings beginning May 11th. You can find out more about these amazing Artisan Chocolates at Once Upon A Bean.
“Like” the chocolatiers at www.facebook.com/OnceUponABean for discounts and coupons.
Follow 365 Things to Do In Southwest Florida on Facebook for more recommendations, events and activities for the whole family.
Jessica Hehir is a regular contributor to 365 Things to Do In Southwest Florida. You can visit Jessica on her blog Sugar and The Spice, follow her on Twitter @sugarnthespice or try to keep up with her on her Facebook page.