Fall 2019 Chester County Chocolate Tastings

Chocolate Wine Harvest Ridge
Photo: Becca Mathias Photography.

On her podcast two years ago, my friend Lauren Heineck asked what cacao meant for me. “A source of wonder,” I replied. It’s amazing that a seed can reveal nutty, floral, or fruity notes, depending on its variety, don’t you think? That’s the sense of wonder I strive to spark at my chocolate tastings, so when I hear: “Oh wow I didn’t know chocolate could taste like this”, I know I’ve succeeded.

But chocolate is more than a yummy food. It’s what I pull from my purse to bring comfort to a friend. It’s the topic I bring up when my Lyft driver says he’s from Ghana. It’s what gathers people at my table. When I was in Colombia last June, I met a lot of people who looked nothing like me. Often times, we didn’t even speak the same language. Everyday, though, we sat at the same table. Everyday, we communicated through pictures Google Translate. All because of chocolate.

That feeling of connection is what you’ll experience at this fall’s tastings. You’ll experience wonder through the smoothest and creamiest texture, and from the stories I’ve been lucky to receive for the past four years. I hope to share them with you at one of these Philadelphia area events.

Thursday, October 3, 7-8:30 PM – Chocolate Lecture + Tasting, Clean Slate Goods, Kennett Square, PA

What? A 90-minute chocolate tasting around the theme “Every Chocolate has a Story.” Come hear about Robin, Yesid, Duvis, and Denise during this 90-minute event featuring three chocolate bars featuring beans from plantations I’ve visited. You’ll leave the event hopeful and uplifted.

The event is for you if: recent headlines on cacao farmers left you depressed and you’re ready to hear uplifting stories about ethically-sourced cacao.

Where? At Clean Slate Goods, a fair trade boutique in downtown Kennett Square.

How do I sign up? Tickets are $15, you can purchase them here.

Sunday, October 6, 2-4 PM – Wine & Chocolate Pairing at Harvest Ridge Winery Tasting Room, Toughkenamon, P

Chocolate Wine Harvest Castronovo Akesson
Photo: Becca Mathias Photography.

What? A 2-hour tasting featuring four wine & chocolate pairings. Spoiler: there’ll be peanut butter chocolate. You’ll learn chocolate-tasting basics, nibble on cocoa beans, and discover the secret behind successful pairings (spoiler: it involves a lot of tasting).

The event is for you if: your BFF is in town and you’d like to treat her to a memorable afternoon. Here’s what our February tasting was like.

How do I sign up? Tickets are $30/person and must be purchased online.

Friday, October 18, 6:30-8 PM – Wine & Chocolate Pairing Event, Grace Winery, Glen Mills, PA (SOLD OUT)

What? A wine & chocolate pairing event at Grace Winery, a dreamy venue located off Route 1. The setting is so peaceful, with alpacas and donkeys on the property. Book a room at the historical inn if you can!

The event is for you if: you already signed up for the event because the event is SOLD OUT!

How do I sign up? You can add your name to the waitlist or sign up to the 37 Chocolates newsletter so you never miss another event.

Saturday, October 26, 10-11 AM – Colombian Chocolate Tasting at the Kennett Library

Denise + Pedro
Denise Castronovo of Castronovo Chocolate introduces her dark milk chocolate to Don Pedro Diego Bolivar, one of the farmers behind her award-winning Sierra Nevada 63% dark milk chocolate. Photo credit: Vincent Ferreira of Hasnaa Chocolats.

 

What? A one-hour workshop where you’ll hear about my recent Colombian trip (spoiler #1: I’ll talk about XXL spiders) and eat three chocolates featuring cacao beans from plantations I visited. Spoiler #2: expect to get emotional.

The event is for you if: it’s never too early for chocolate.

How do I sign up? Registration is required on this Google Form.

Good to know: This is the only FREE tasting I’ll hold this fall. The library’s hosting a kids storytime at the same time downstairs.

To be notified of future events, please sign up to my newsletter!  It’s really the best way to keep in touch.

Grid Magazine Cover Story + Upcoming Event

Cacao Selfie

As you may have gathered from the @37chocolates Instagram account, I spent a glorious week in Colombia, visiting cacao plantations and fermentation facilities. The trip was organized by cacao broker Uncommon Cacao in collaboration with Cacao Hunters and I’m grateful for Denise Castronovo of Castronovo Chocolate for letting me know about it. A highlight of the trip was witnessing her giving her creamy 63% Sierra Nevada Dark Milk Chocolate to Don Pedro, one of the Sierra Nevada farmers (there may have been some tears…)

There’s so much more I’d like to share on the journey, so watch for future blog posts and (hopefully) magazine articles. If you know of an editor interested in my experience, please send them my way! Until then, I’ll continue to feel grateful to have found a field that keeps me endlessly interested.

Grid Magazine Cover Story

Grid Cover Story

If the recent Washington Post story on child labor in cacao fields left you depressed, read my (first) cover story in the June issue of Grid Magazine.

An affiliate faculty of African studies, Dr. Kristy Leissle offers a definition of sustainability in cacao and exposes the roots of poverty on farms. The piece also highlights the work of three Philadelphia area chocolate companies, i.e. Nathan Miller Chocolate, Repurposed Pod, and La Chocolatera’s drinking chocolate food truck, as well as Uncommon Cacao. These four companies strive to bring positive changes in the industry and I hope their stories will leave you inspired.

You can read the Grid Magazine story here.

Upcoming Event

Unionville Saddle

Join me this coming Saturday from 11-2 at WorKS in Kennett Square as part of Unionville Saddle’s Father’s Day pop-up shop. There’ll be shirts, bourbon, and chocolate — does life get any better? I’ll be there with several bars, including Castronovo Chocolate’s Sierra Nevada Dark Milk Chocolate and the best-selling Lemon Sea Salt White Chocolate. I hope to see you then!

WorKS
432 S. Walnut Street
Kennett Square, PA 19348

To be notified of future events, please sign up to my newsletter!  It’s really the best way to keep in touch.

Fall 2017 Chocolate Tastings

I was sipping my cappuccino at Philter Coffee this fall one day when a lady named Chelsea asked me about my next chocoldunaiate event. Although I had none planned then, I promised her to organize one. After I emptied my cup, I headed straight to the library, where it took all of 30 seconds to book a chocolate tasting workshop with Alex. Gosh, I wish all my meetings were that productive.

I now look forward to meeting Chelsea and her friends at the Kennett Library this Saturday, November 18, 2017. I have a couple more events planned this year to satisfy your chocolate cravings, including a Map Chocolate pop-up sale that same Saturday and a tasting at Grace Winery next month. Here are all the details, I hope to see you at one or all of these events!

November 2017 Library.png

Join me at the Kennett Library this Saturday, November 18 for a FREE chocolate tasting workshop at 2 PM. Spoiler: you’ll touch a cacao pod and taste camel milk chocolate from Dubai. Space is limited so make sure to register here. The event was completely booked last time so don’t wait to save your spot!

Kennett Library
216 East State Street
Kennett Square, PA 19348

Chadds Ford

On Saturday, November 18, I will have Map Chocolate bars for sale at the inaugural Potts Meadow Tree Lighting event, presented by the Chadds Ford Barn Shops and the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art. I’ll be there with several cool artists (Katee Boyle! Bri from Arden + James!). The event will run from 4:30-8:30 PM, you’ll find all the details here.

The history of the Barn Shops goes back 50 years, when some historic buildings (old general store, gas station, etc.) in Chadds Ford, PA, were moved to their current location for preservation purposes. My friend Bri and her father have been fixing up the shops all year and they’re proud to share them with the local community.

Please note you MUST park at the Brandywine Museum down the road and take a shuttle to the event. For safety reasons, including Route 1 traffic backup and children wandering around, you can’t park at the Barn Shops.

Chadds Ford Barn Shops
1609 Baltimore Pike
Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania 19317

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I love with the quiet, romantic setting of Grace Winery in Glen Mills – Prince Albert of Monaco was recently there! – so I am thrilled to host a two-hour chocolate education and tasting workshop on Friday, December 15 at 6 PM – 8 PM. Tickets are $50 and include your first glass of wine. If you’d like to learn more about your favorite food, hold a cacao pod, eat a cacao bean, and taste several chocolates, secure a spot now on EventBrite.

Grace Winery
50 Sweetwater Road
Glen Mills, PA 19342

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Eat, Listen, and Read: My Winter in Chocolate

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A snapshot of my previous chocolate tasting workshop at the Kennett Library last November

Last fall, I was training Philter Coffee’s staff on the shop’s chocolate bar selection when it suddenly hit me: this is my role in the world of chocolate. Sharing my knowledge, telling stories, and encourage others to trust themselves – and their palate – this is what I am meant to do. The realization did not come overnight, but through a long series of trial (OK, tastings) and error.

Whether you have found your true calling or are still looking for that spark, I urge you to gather the courage to sign up for that journey. And if you don’t know where to start, here are some words of encouragement by Elizabeth Gilbert:

Follow your curiosity (…) It might lead you to your passion or it might not. You might get nothing out of it at all except a beautiful, long life where all you did was follow your gorgeous curiosity. And that should be enough too.

Because a piece of chocolate will make the journey that much sweeter, here is some chocolate inspiration to help you along the way.

EAT

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Do you live in the Philadelphia and Chester County area? If so, I’d love to see you at one of my upcoming tasting events in Kennett Square next week:

  • Join me at the Kennett Library on Saturday, February 11 for a FREE chocolate tasting workshop. Space is limited so make sure to register here. The event was completely booked last time so don’t wait to save your spot!
  • This year again, I will be a judge at the Kennett Chocolate Lovers Festival on Sunday, February 12. Note to self: do NOT finish that slice of cake.
  • Looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift? Head out to Galer Estate Winery on Sunday, February 12 for the winery’s annual Valentine’s Sip & Shop. I’ll be there from 2-7 with several chocolate bars for sampling and purchase.

Don’t miss my next chocolate tasting, sign up for my newsletter!

Looking to add some spice to your chocolate life this winter? Look no further than Turmeric of a Goat Thing.

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Photo credit: WKND Chocolate

I live for chocolate crushes and this golden milk-flavored goat milk white chocolate by WKND Chocolate is my latest one. It has the perfect balance of sweet/spicy and you can barely detect the goat milk.To order, send an email to Lauren, founder of the company, at: lauren@wkndchocolate.com.

LISTEN

The Slow Melt is a brand new chocolate podcast devoted to – you guessed it – chocolate. The first episode is a lively introduction to the multiple facets of chocolate, I think you’ll like it.

READ (AND EAT)

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It’s no secret Choco Rush is my favorite chocolate subscription box so imagine my excitement at the opportunity to start blogging on their site! My very first post features a Valentine’s Day craft chocolate selection inspired by Paris, caramel truffles, and milk chocolate. Discover it here and let me know in the comments what you think.

Now, tell me, what chocolate is helping you go through this winter?