Chocolate! The word alone excites me. Last week I had the amazing opportunity of attending an Introduction to Fine Chocolate event led by Matt Caputo at Tony Caputo’s Market & Deli in Salt Lake City. I knew I would come away from the event with a greater understanding & appreciation for chocolate, but that was just the tip of the iceberg!
Photo of Matt Caputo from newspapergrl.
Matt Caputo, the resident chocolate expert at Caputo’s, has a deep knowledge and enthusiastic passion for fine chocolate. He has taught and trained himself through years of study, visits, and tasting lots and lots of chocolate (he regularly consumes 1/4 to 1 lb. of chocolate a day). He was also named Utah’s Best Food and Wine Educator by Salt Lake Magazine for 2011, so if you want to learn about good food, he’s your man.
I learned more about chocolate that night than I thought I’d ever know…and that was just the beginner’s class! Here’s a few random chocolate facts I thought I’d pass along (and go check out Caputo’s infographic to learn more):
- 99% of people identify vanilla as chocolate because so much “grocery store” chocolate uses low-quality cocoa beans and relies on sugar and vanilla for flavor.
- Cocoa beans were once used as a monetary unit.
- Chocolate consumed as a drink until the 1800’s, when methods were finally developed to make it into an edible solid form.
- Chocolate was originally reserved only for the elite because of the expensive processing; “grocery store chocolate” is a cheaper way to make chocolate accessible to everyone.
I loved being educated in fine chocolate, but the best part of the night was the tasting! A couple tips we were given on tasting chocolate:
- Let it melt all over your tongue & don’t swallow before it melts!
- Inhale through your mouth & exhale through your nose.
We got to taste seven different chocolate bars. My favorites?
- Domori Arriba ($4.99) – a very silky, fruity bar with hints of under-ripe banana. Beans are grown in Ecuador & the bar is from Italy. This bar is credited with Matt Caputo’s obsession with chocolate.
- Amano Dos Rios ($6.99) – a bar with hints of many flavors including freeze-dried blueberry, clove, and lavender. The beans are from the Domican Republic, but this bar is from Orem, Utah! Amano Chocolates has only been around for about three years, but they have won more awards than any other American chocolatier. In addition to Caputo’s, you can find these at Harmon’s & Whole Foods.
- Amedei Chuao ($14.50) – a sophisticated, more complex “symphony of flavors.” This bar is considered the “best of the best” by many. The beans are from Venezuela and the bar is from Italy. This bar has won the Academy of Chocolate’s Best Bean to Bar gold medal several times.
We were also treated to some drinking chocolate, the labor-intensive Kouign Amann pastry, and the incredibly rich “Black-Out Cake”. The drinking chocolate was warm and rich with some spice to it. The Kouign Amann was incredible with it’s flaky layers (similar to a croissant); sweet, crisp & caramelly crust; and a touch of Amedei Chuao chocolate ganache. It’s a three-day process to make them and at $4.99, they are worth every penny. The chocolate “Black-Out Cake” is a new chocolate cake at Caputo’s, made with Amano Dos Rios chocolate. It was incredibly rich and had the same interesting flavors as the bar I sampled. It costs $6.99 for a slice (larger than the sample pictured) and is unlike any other chocolate cake I’ve had before.
This was my first visit to Tony Caputo’s Market & Deli, and I know it will not be my last! I was incredibly impressed with both the personal passion behind that Matt Caputo exhibited and the level of care that Caputo’s puts forth to bring the best of the best to its customers. The Market carries the largest selection of fine chocolate in the country (over 400 kinds) plus aisles and aisles of amazing cheeses, meats, olives, preserves, and more. Remember the amazing Fat Toad Caramel from Vermont we posted about last year? Caputo’s carries two varieties.
Caputo’s sent me home with a box of fine chocolate bars to sample at home…and a discount to share with my readers! You don’t have to live in Utah to take advantage of this, either, since it is a discount on purchases from Caputo’s new chocolate website! (They have a fantastic new website with online shopping and a blog.) With any $25 chocolate purchase, you will get $15 worth of chocolate free. When you place your order, just mention in the comments of your order that you heard about the discount from the blogger’s fine chocolate event here on my blog.
If you are interested in learning more about chocolate and educating your palate on the pleasures of fine chocolate, you can sign up for one of Caputo’s classes on their website. If not, just stop by and sample on your own!