Friday, December 4, 2020

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Fine chocolate is one of Utah’s secrets—along with powder snow, great microbrews and a vibrant gay culture. But, it’s time to let the cat out of the reusable shopping bag. Forget what you’ve heard about Utah’s low-brow sweet tooth—Salt Lake City is all about making and appreciating exceptional chocolate.

Amano Chocolate of Orem was the first local chocolate-maker to hit the big time. Founded in 2006 by Art Pollard and Clark Goble, within three years it was named one of the top eight bean-to-bar chocolate companies in the world by Martin Christy, founder of both SeventyPercent.com and the Academy of Chocolate. Before it burst onto the American fine-chocolate scene, Amano Chocolate debuted on Caputo Market’s shelves in downtown SLC.

Founding chocolate artisan Pollard is a bit of savant when it comes to beans and sourcing. His were the first American-made bars to be taken seriously, outranking (and ruffling the feathers of) French, Belgian and Italian powerhouses in competitions. It’s because of that single-minded dedication that Pollard has produced some of the most talked about bars in the chocolate world, including Dos Rios (Dominican Republic beans)–a chocolate taste that hits the tongue with blueberries and cream, some woodsy spices, and a wallop of white blossoms like honeysuckle. He just says, “Utah always has had an affinity for chocolate. When we started we were the only bean-to-bar company but now there’s a couple new small ones. We’re honored to be the ones who paved the way.”

Now, Utah also has Mill Creek Cacao, coffee roaster turned cacao roaster; The Chocolate Conspiracy, makers of organic raw chocolate; Mezzo Chocolate, which takes it from beans to brew, and, most recently, Solstice Chocolate, a single-origin producer. To celebrate these and fine international chocolate, Caputo’s hosts a Chocolate Festival every year, inviting local pastry chefs to dream up desserts inspired by chocolate.

But we’re not talking Mars Bars here.


Art Pollard of Amano Chocolate

What’s the diff?

“Chocolate” on the label doesn’t always mean chocolate–one of the major points of enlightenment on the road to becoming a chocolate snob. The snob’s term for what we grew up thinking was chocolate is “mockolate,” meaning candy products made with cocoa solids, but no cocoa butter. Instead, this stuff is made with vegetable oil or some other fat. Legally, it can’t even be called “chocolate;” it has to be labeled “chocolate candy.” When a cacao bean is crushed, the butter and solids are separated. In fine chocolate, they’re mixed back together, along with sugar and vanilla. And even though you may like the flavor of mockolate just fine, remember it doesn’t have any of the health properties associated with true theobroma.

Genuine fine chocolate is made with cocoa solids and cocoa butter from beans from a single country, district or even farm. Depending on its origin and who makes it, the same high-quality bean can yield vastly different flavors.

Yes, we’re talking terroir, a concept fundamental to the wine business and equally important to chocolate.

One of the growing concerns of fine chocolatiers is the chocolate plant itself. As the Fine Chocolate Industry Association says on its website, “The best tasting chocolates in the world are poised for extinction.” Their point is, growers are removing and replacing rare cacao trees with higher-yielding, disease resistant but less flavorful hybrids. When he first started Amano, Pollard says, “Bad cocoa was everywhere. But there was great cacao to be had–fine quality stuff. To get it and use it you had to pay way more than even fair trade and have a personal relationship with the farmers. We always try to have that personal relationship and to be involved. Most of these farmers who make great cacao have never tasted the final product, so I make it a point to bring the finished bar to these producers and have them taste it.”

Pollard recalls, “After working side by side all day with these farmers, I had a bunch gathered and I had them taste the Amano Cuyagua farm. One crusty old farmer came up and told me one of the most profound things. He said, ‘This chocolate is like a river–the flavor of the chocolate goes on and on, it take you to all these wild and wonderful places.’”

The chocolate makers transform the raw beans into gorgeous bars through tricks of science, sweat and possibly, alchemy. It’s usually dark (no milk products, 50-100 percent cocoa), but never bitter. The texture is usually fine (with some exceptions, especially among raw chocolate makers). The chocolate section at Caputo’s Market dazzles emerging chocolate snobs and is a key source for established ones. It’s also the headquarters from which Matt Caputo conducts chocolate-tasting classes and hosts meetings for the Chocolate Society. Here, you can browse, taste and be bowled over by the flavor of something as simple as ground cocoa beans, sugar and vanilla. The young staff is freakishly knowledgeable. Caputo has curated one of the foremost fine chocolate selections in the world according to his peers, i.e. national chocolate experts and the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade which cited Caputo’s chocolate as one of the reasons they named the store one of its “Outstanding Retailers” in 2009.

Utah is also forging ahead in another category: drinking chocolate. Topher and Shannon Webb of Mezzo Chocolate have created a luscious, rich drinking chocolate that puts the insipid instant stuff to shame. Their secret: They make shavings from single-origin bars they’ve crafted themselves. The result is drinking chocolate that is as interesting and fruity as a well-made Spanish Rioja wine.

Like other fresh foods, chocolate has a season, and we are in the middle of it. Granted, the season doesn’t have to do with Mother Nature. It’s determined by human appetite and the mail. From Halloween through Easter is chocolate season, from cool to cool. When the weather warms, chocolate melts quickly and quality is compromised. Of course, the zenith of chocolate season is February 14.

Next>>>Where to get your local chocolate, and why to be a chocolate snob

Mark your calendars! Our 12 Days of Giveaways starts Dec 1! ✨⁠

With giveaway items from local businesses such as @gotbeautydotcom, @woodhouseholladay, @cactusandtropicals and many more, you won't want to miss this! 🎁⁠

Here's the idea: ⁠
⭐ Tag a friend on our giveaway post who you believe should win the giveaway item! The person you tag is then entered to win! (Friends can tag one another) 💑⁠
⭐ Be sure to follow us (@slmag) and the giveaway provider on insta! ⁠
⭐ Entry deadline will be at 10PM. The winner will be announced at 11:59PM and a new prize will be posted at 8AM each day. ⁠

#giveaways #win #contest #christmas #gift #holiday #12daysofgiveaways #slmag
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A holiday letter from our editor, Mary Brown Malouf:⁠

"It’s the season for celebration. And let’s face it—it was a bad year for cheer. Nevertheless, though masked and socially distanced, we will join together again this year in love and joy for one another. We will clink glasses, feast, toast to a better future and enjoy what we have, taking care to live in the moment. Remembering the good times in the midst of the not-so-good and pledging to support one another."⁠

Have a wonderful and safe holiday. Cheers! 🥂⁠

To read the full letter, go to the link in bio.
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Happy Friday! We all know the best way to celebrate the end of the week is with a cocktail 😉! ⁠

🍸 And our next highlighted cocktail is the perfect way to start your weekend. @alibislc's 'Far From The Tree' by Clif Reagle:⁠

1.5 oz. @shdistillery Bourbon⁠
1.5 oz. Utah Honey and Akane Apple Shrub⁠
.25+ oz. @waterpocketdistillery Snow Angel .25 oz. lemon juice⁠
Barspoon of simple syrup⁠
2 dashes Regans Orange Bitters⁠
Combine in shaker over ice, shake and strain into a footed glass. Serve with dried apple garnish.⁠

“My goal for this drink was to make it with as many local ingredients as possible,” says Reagle, “and seeing as the farm scene is pretty quiet in November I decided to go with a classic method of fruit preservation: the shrub.⁠

VOTE VOTE VOTE AWAY! Grab our magazine, grab a cocktail (or make it yourself) and get voting. Cheers!🥂⁠

Link in bio to vote and learn more about Clif Reagle!
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Yes. Thanksgiving is going to be different this year. So instead of stressing out to prepare a meal, help support local restaurants who need our love this Thanksgiving. 🦃⁠

Restaurants are doing what they can to make this Thanksgiving seamless for us. With offerings of curbside pick up, meal kits, and even delivery, ordering out this Thanksgiving seems like a no-brainer.⁠

Oh and did we mention no family-sized mess to clean up afterward? That’s a win-win in our book. 😉 Check the link in bio for full list of restaurants. 🍽️
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Don't forget to vote in our 2020 Cocktail Contest!! 🍸🍹🥂⁠

Our next highlighted coktail is @thecopperonion's “Not Today Satan” by Frank Mealy:⁠

1.5 oz. @shdistillery Bourbon⁠
1.5 oz. pear shrub (Champagne Vinegar/Earl Grey simple 2:1)⁠
.75 oz. lemon juice⁠
Preheat glass with hot water. Mix ingredients, pour into the hot glass, top with hot water and garnish with cinnamon stick, star anise and dried pear.⁠

Mealy is a full-time bartender for the Copper Group. “Inspiration for this drink came from the expectation that we’re going to be running our outdoor patio season longer because of Covid.” People are more comfortable sitting outside, Mealy says, “So I wanted to make a hot drink for the colder months.”⁠

VOTE VOTE VOTE AWAY! Grab our magazine, grab a cocktail (or make it yourself) and get voting. Cheers!🥂⁠

Link in bio to vote and learn more about Frank Mealy!
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Our 2020 Cocktail Contest is live!! 🍸🍹🥂

We’ll be highlighting our cocktail contest contestants throughout the next few weeks. Starting with @takashi_slc’s “Red Dirt Garden” by Crystal Daniels:

- 1.5 oz. Amaro Bilaro
- .5 oz. @shdistillery Barrel-strength Rye
- .75 oz. Lemon juice
- 1 oz. Red rice orgeat made with @redbuttegarden botanicals
- Pinch of Jacobsen Salt from @caputosmarket

Daniels garnished her cocktail with banana leaves and an edible begonia- if you can’t get the begonia, another colorful edible bloom will do. 🌺

VOTE VOTE VOTE AWAY! Grab our magazine, grab a cocktail (or make it yourself) and get voting. Cheers!🥂

Link in bio to vote!
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Did you know that the first woman to cast a ballot in the United States voted right here in Salt Lake City?

In 1870, on her way to work as a schoolteacher, Seraph Young stopped by SLC’s old City Hall—right across from the Capitol—and made history as the first woman to vote under a women's equal suffrage law.

Like many of us, Young voted early in that election simply because she had to get to work on time. Her story reminds us of the power ordinary people have to make history. Now, get out and vote!

Photo: Ron Fox
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Our November-December issue is on stands now!!⁠

And our annual cocktail contest is open for voting! Take all precautions, support our hardworking hospitality community and remember to smile. 🍹🍸🧉⁠

Pick up a magazine, grab a cocktail and vote! Happy November, everyone! ⁠

Check the link in bio to vote.
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Trick or treat? COVID cases are getting scary.

111K confirmed cases and 601 deaths in Utah.

Link in bio for a little op-ed on face masks. 😷
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