In my recent travels speaking about On the Chocolate Trail, I have been able to sample some unusual chocolates and related products. Consider these:

Atlanta:

Matza decorated choc    Jewish bonbons

From Chef Brulee amazing colors make the bon bons and the matzah very appealing.

 

Cbocoley

*Chocoley  A source for making chocolate creations, including molds, compound chocolate , kits, utensils
Portland:

Cacao
Cacao‘s most amazing hot chocolate selection

The Meadow

The Meadow‘s selection of chocolate bars from around the world

Seattle:

Dilettante

Dilettante for chocolate truffles, mochas, cakes and martinis.

Theo

Theo‘s for factory tour and shopping in the store.

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It’s Chocolate Season

by D. Prinz on November 30, 2014

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Chocolate season started on November 1 for Joanne and Jerry Kryszek’s company, Chocosphere. This is the busiest time in their on-line chocolate wholesale and retail company which operates from a warehouse in a Portland suburb. I have known about the company for years and finally had the opportunity to meet the Kryszek’s and see their operation a couple of weeks ago.

Chocolate is a second career for both and a full time passion. Jerry had always liked chocolate. Joanne never liked chocolate as a child. As an adult, she became hooked on the Belgian Cote d’Or milk chocolate that Jerry’s best friend brought back from his business trips abroad. She loved it. She depended on those imports and was stuck when he lost his travel budget. In the late 90’s Joanne’s job at the IRS was reinvented. Mourning her lost supply of chocolate, she proposed to Jerry that they start a chocolate internet business arguing, “it will be easy and we will make money.” He reminded her, based on his experience in the clothing business, that she would sleep it, eat it, and live it, 24/7. Soon they were planning a trip to Sweden to pick up a car for chocolate shopping and meeting suppliers in Europe.

To keep overhead low Chocosphere started out of their home. They opened by retailing only 6 brands in the fall of 1998. Now shipments arrive from their major sources every week and as chocolate season warms up, trucks deliver every day. Today they sell over 50 brands and more than 50% of the business is wholesale. I had to force my hands together to keep from reaching out to sample from the neatly organized piles of bars, minis, truffles, nibs and spreads.

Though still driving that same Volvo, Joanne’s chocolate tastes have evolved to preferring very high cocoa content, even 100% Damori. She now appreciates more about the nuances of beans and the complexities that produce quality chocolate. Their customer profile includes women and men. They have also seen customer expectations change, with people generally looking for higher cocoa content and European more than American. Men are discerning and enjoy broad tastes. Women seem more committed to one item, such as the customer who orders her weekly 3 kilo bag of Valhrona Noir. In the Northwest, women chocolate makers outnumber men.

At the very least, Jerry and Joanne have a constant supply of the best chocolate from around the world for themselves. And, even better, we have access to their curated selections.

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Chocolate Signals

September 12, 2014

The Trappistine nun appeared to levitate as she welcomed us at the factory door with urgent questions about how to market chocolate for Father’s Day, about aspects of kosher certification and about increasing their Chanukah sales. Sister Christa-Maria, in her Bavarian tinged English, broke the Benedictine prohibition against speaking to give us a tour of […]

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Can’t Live Without Chocolate?

August 22, 2014

  It seems a given that many of us depend on chocolate. Everywhere I speak about On the Chocolate Trail (Jewish Lights), people confess: “I can’t live without it.” And they want reassurance that the popular headlines about chocolate’s health advantages are true. Whether my body temperature slowly melts a mouthful, or, I am chomping […]

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Smiley Chocolate

June 13, 2014

We hit the mother lode. This chocolate factory came to us from Columbia, unlike the others we were fortunate to trek to in Belgium, England, France, Israel, Mexico, Spain, and Switzerland. To be precise to the David Zwirner gallery near the High Line in Chelsea. Oscar Murillo’s performance art installation, A Mercantile Novel, mashes up […]

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Saluting Military Chocolate

May 26, 2014

  Memorial Day recalls the tangible and serious sacrifices made by members of the US military. Chocolate has played a part in that here, as well as in Israel and Britain. When I came across these stories as I was researching On the Chocolate Trail, I was surprised at how important chocolate was for both […]

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Think Chocolate in Preparation for Passover’s Discussions and Eating

April 12, 2014

Several publications picked up my pieces about chocolate and Passover recently — Huffington Post, Jewish Journal and Jewish Telegraphic Agency — and I share them here, along with A Haggadah for a Chocolate Seder and related rabbinic texts from responsa literature: A Haggadah for a Chocolate Seder (free download!) This Haggadah provides an entry point […]

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Chocolate Love Lessons for Valentine’s Day

February 5, 2014

Love lessons pulsate through Denise Acabo’s chocolate shop, A l’Etoile d’Or, Montmartre, Paris. Baby-faced Denise, who may be in her 80’s, has tended to customers and chocolate for the last 40 years costumed in her braided hair and school-uniform kilt skirt. Against the backdrop of her carefully curated chocolate offerings, she preens for the camera: […]

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Chocolate Coated Mallomars Turns 100

November 13, 2013

Do you want to eat a 100 year old chocolate covered, cookie framed marshmallow? The iconic Mallomars turned 100 today. That calls to mind its sibling concoctions from other countries and times, such as the Krembo in Israel. Other similar classic chocolate-covered marshmallows recall the colonial empire roots of some European chocolate traditions. Chocolate makers […]

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From Prins to Prinz: The Mysteries of the Chocolate Trail

September 19, 2013

Little did I realize when writing On the Chocolate Trail, how eerie the connections between Jews and chocolate might become.  My choco-dar (internal radar for chocolate experiences) led me to a hauntingly personal story. In 2009, a very kind scholar, learning of my chocolate interests, mentioned a Dutch archival collection of a Jewish scholar who […]

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