My Parents used to reward our good behavior with chocolate; it was a proven effective method to control seven children. My father used to buy a box of chocolate bars in the cantina in his military base and give it to my mother, who hid it away from us. To this day I remember the beautiful vintage package design of the military chocolate; it had a yellow wrap with an illustration of a man and a woman soldier sharing a chocolate bar between them.
There was a time when I could no longer wait for an occasion when I could demonstrate good behavior to receive a chocolate bar, so I decided to search the house for the treasure box. I found it tucked away in my mother’s closet and finished everything. In the old times, or should I say – young times, my pancreas had no problem taking care of sugar. The next time my mother wanted to condition my good behavior with chocolate, I had to tell her that there is no more chocolate. I was ready to deal with her anger, but not with the fact that my good behavior would not be rewarded with chocolate.
Some people wait for a special occasion to buy good chocolate, like Valentine’s Day, this is not the case in my house. I love to have good chocolate everyday; I don’t care about the sugar, I don’t care that it’s a good antioxidant; all I care about is that it makes me feel happy. As a kid I only liked milk chocolate, I couldn’t understand the appeal of dark chocolate. These days I prefer 70% cocoa chocolate; nowadays milk chocolate is too sweet for me. USA regulations require a minimum of 10% cocoa solids for milk chocolate and 15% cocoa solids for dark chocolate; if you are not picky about your chocolate, you can end up with a candy that is more fat and sugar than real chocolate. Living in the Seattle area, I consider myself very lucky to have available a big variety of wonderful chocolate made locally; though there are two chocolate brands I love the most:
Theo Chocolate factory, which is in the Fremont neighborhood, is the first Organic and Fair Trade chocolate company in North America. Their chocolate bars are sold in high-end grocery stores in the USA and Canada. Unfortunately the rest of the world will have to wait for their arrival to overseas markets, or just come and visit Seattle and buy a stock of their decadent bars. I love their vanilla nib bar made with the creamy chocolate bean from Congo, beans they also use to make their milk chocolate. I also love their crunchy cheery almond. My husband prefers their coconut and orange bars. Another Theo’s chocolate bar that I’m very fond of is the Coffee bar, unfortunately not many stores offer this one. In my kitchen I have a nice stock of my favorite Theo bars. The factory offers a one-hour tour to learn about their chocolate making process; I took the tour with my sister this summer, and really enjoyed it. Make sure to eat before the tour, otherwise you’ll get sick from all the sugar.
Another favorite chocolate place is Brugge Chocolates in Redmond. This is the place to indulge with handcrafted chocolate. Susan Walukiewicz, the owner, quit her job at Microsoft to follow an old dream. The store opened four years ago and since has been a growing success. King5 EveningMagazine did their 2012 Valentines’ Day show in Brugge Choclolates and the place has also received mentioning in the local media. I love the design of the store, the esthetics of the chocolate display, and the packaging of the boxes. Susan changes the colors of the ribbons according to the time of the year and the occasion. The variety of the chocolate flavors constantly change with the different seasons and with the different ingredients Susan finds, striving always for the best quality.