Photos by Bowerbird Photography
"Hi. My name is ______, and I'm a chocoholic."
The rest of us took turns, going around the room, introducing ourselves and proclaiming our unabashed love for chocolate. We were all gathered at Dandelion Chocolate the bean-to-bar chocolate company on Valencia Street, for Chocolate 101, an introductory class which included comparison tastings, a tour through their manufacturing area, and a slideshow presentation on farming.
Dandelion Chocolate offers a unique product: the bars are made solely from chocolate beans and sugar. That's all. The goal is to feature the flavor of the bean, which varies depending on genetics, land, farming methods, and fermentation process.
Dandelion's chocolate, since it lacks the addition of extra fats and additives, proves difficult to make, and that's precisely one of the reasons it is worth experiencing. Each single-origin bag of beans is hand-sorted and carefully roasted, bringing out beautiful and intoxicating flavors. Many of the machines they use are specially MacGyvered contraptions, or rehabilitated antique relics.
The candy wrapper is 60 years old, and cloaks each bar of chocolate in a piece of handmade paper from India. We even got to sample some fresh chocolate fruit pulp (YUM!), evocative of passion fruit. We all learned so much about chocolate that evening, and I, for one, came to the important realization that my addiction to Dandelion Chocolate is well-deserved. It truly is good stuff!