Confessions of a Chocoholic by Jamie Ginsberg
Recently I found myself checking out at the register in a slight daze. I looked into my basket, with almost manic glee, at the twelve different chocolate bars I had placed within it. I had decided to take one for the team and find out what the BEST chocolate bar at Whole Foods was. As the cashier slid the bars over the scanner, a pit grew in my stomach. What the heck ever happened to the 50-cent Hershey bar or the upgraded Dove bar for a buck? I felt slightly embarrassed as I slid my card thru the machine mumbling something about a special dinner party. As I wandered around the parking lot trying to find my car, I realized that just buying chocolate is an amazing high. Next time someone else is driving me to the store.
Theo’s Chocolate, not worth the $3. I tried the “Sweet Riot” and the “Spicy Chile.” It is almost a bargain bar at that price, but the heat was upfront and scalding. The chocolate was also a little dry and lacking a richness. The good news is you can have one bite and you don’t want any more – perfect for the dieter in you. Two weeks later that bar is still sitting in the bag, I can’t even pawn it off on unsuspecting guests. I use this bar to illustrate how amazing the “Oaxaca Fire” bar is from Vosges (I already knew from experience that the Oaxaca was dark and delicious with a slow burn that makes you want more…)
Green & Blacks didn’t disappoint, but it was shockingly ordinary. Their crystallized ginger bar was a little too exciting for me. The ginger was sweet and perfectly crystallized, but I couldn’t figure out when I would be in the mood to eat this. The “Espresso” bar went quickly and is definitely in the top ten category. The coffee flavor is subtle and blends with the chocolate perfectly. I always find myself wanting a coffee when I eat this. My friend Sam Friedman over at the Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve Company uses this chocolate in one of his hand-made soaps, perfect for any chocoholic.
Newman’s Own espresso chocolate was good, but a real chocoholic would only buy this because they wanted to donate some money and feel less guilty about their obsession. I feel that way about all of their products, except for the lemonade, that is delicious any time of day – but especially blended with some ice and vodka!
Vosges bars are delicious. Try any one of them on any day and experience the moment. My friend Yeah Dave teaches a Yoga and Chocolate class that is sure to get you addicted to both, he uses different Vosges bars to guide your journey. The core truth is this is chocolate for rich people. Whether you get a deal at $7.50 or at $10, this chocolate is just too expensive. I will get the Oaxaca bar once in a great while as a special treat, but these are not my go-to bars. I am not ready to boycott Vosges, but they went from the number 1 seed to barely in consideration for top 5 ranking!
Dagoba. I picked this bar up as an afterthought. Thinking to myself as I tossed 3 bars into my basket, “ugh, so pretentious, “single field” chocolate.” It annoys me in wineries and it annoys me in chocolate. Is there really a difference between the 74% “New Moon” chocolate bar and the 73% “Conacado” bar from the Dominican Republic and the 73% “Xocolatl” bar with chili and cocao nibs? Yes, yes there is. I use the New Moon bar when I know I am feeling weak and do not want to eat the entire thing. That 1% extra strangely tempers my desire to go back for more but leaves me satisfied and happy. Yes, happy. Eating chocolate will make you happy. Eating delicious chocolate will make you ecstatic.
I know there is something wrong about eating a Dagoba Conacado bar as I write this at 10 am on a Saturday morning, but writing about food is a lot of fun and has to be experienced. Conacado is Fair Trade Chocolate, grown by small farms in the Dominican Republic. This is a chocolate bar you can feel good about eating, indulge your senses to the point of overload and afford at $2-$3 per bar. I was a little disappointed to discover that Dagoba is owned by the Artisan Confection Company, a Hershey subsidiary that owns also Sharffen Berger and Joseph Schmidt Chocolate. There has been a lot of consolidation within the chocolate industry and rumors are spinning of an international investor cornering the market on chocolate futures to raise prices. Let’s hope the rumors aren’t true.
Chocolate has always been a form of therapy in my family. For me it began with the Haagen-Dazs Chocolate Chocolate Chip ice cream of my youth (did you know that they started in The Bronx?). Slowly I evolved to Special Dark minis that I would trade for every Halloween. Birthday cakes of moist chocolate cake layered with fudge frosting from Carrot Top on Broadway by Dyckman Street defined delicious and gave us something to look forward to every year. When times were good and when times were bad, we celebrated with chocolate. When you are sad, nothing is better than curling up in front of the TV on your couch with a pint of chocolate ice cream. When you are happy, a chocolate bar will magnify the experience and enable you to really enjoy the sweetness of the moment. Whether you are skinny, fat, short or tall, chocolate is delicious and should be a part of your life. Whatever kind of chocolate you indulge in, savor the flavor, enjoy the buzz and live in the moment!