Billed as “the world’s most expensive chocolate,” Alchemy by To’ak is farmed and grown in Ecuador and contains about 65% heirloom cacao, 35% cane sugar, and, in the case of the bar I was just nibbling, an array of native-grown lemon ants. I am not an expert on chocolate pricing – the cost per ounce is around $8 – but the chocolate with ants, which has a citronella aroma, was quite delicious.
Each 14-gram bar of flavored chocolate comes in a package of four, each wrapped in golden-colored foil, each paper box an intriguing compendium – a miniature work of cover art, an interesting back story to read as you munch, a feel-good array of certifications (fair trade, family farmed, ultra-eco), and ingredient labeling for those obsessed with the makeup of foodstuffs. A $120 sampler collection of individual 4-packs comes with a variety of chocolates, each subtly flavored, but distinctive, each with its own artwork.
In a backgrounder on the To’ak website, co-founder Jerry Toth writes: “From the outset, we had a few radical ideas about how chocolate should be sourced, produced and consumed. We saw how people treat wine as an epicurean delicacy and regard winemaking as the noblest of artisanal crafts. Why shouldn’t chocolate – and cacao farming – be accorded the same reverence and standards of excellence?”
He continues, “To’ak soon went on to make waves in the chocolate industry by launching a $265 bar of chocolate – much to the shock (and in some cases, chagrin) of our industry colleagues. For better and for worse, To’ak quickly became known as the ‘most expensive chocolate in the world.’”
I’ll take Toth’s word for it as I work my way from wine bar to chocolate bar.
Blake Lively is at it again, adding Betty Booze sparkling cocktails to her Betty Buzz light and – well, lively – line of drinks. The current offering consists of sparkling tequila with flavors of oak-smoked lemonade, sparkling tequila with lime, and sparkling bourbon with apple, ginger, and sour cherry flavors. Each 12-ounce can clocks in at 4.5%.
Although I prefer my cocktails high-test, I loved the flavors of these taste tinglers enough to drink a whole can of each. (Helpful hint: You can add more of the straight stuff if you want.) A four-pack costs about $15.
PEPPERTUX PISTACHIO BUTTER
If you want to switch your munching allegiance from ground nuts to tree nuts, then go nuts over this pistachio butter from Peppertux. More granular and sweeter than most chunky peanut butter, the pistachio works best as a spread on bread, crackers, or fruits (at least to my taste).
The base of the butter is made from 80% Turkish pistachios and sweetened with beet sugar. Calories, you ask? Two tablespoons, the suggested serving size, is 180 calories, so you may want to spread sparingly. A 7-ounce jar costs $15.
MONTI TRENTINI CHEESES
If you are a partisan of northern Italian wines – Chianti, Barolo, Barbera, Valpolicella – you might be interested in matching them with Italian cheeses. At least that’s what the folks at Monti Trentini suggest for their line of regional cheeses available in most supermarkets.
The family-run business, located in the Trentino Region of Italy, will celebrate 100 years in 1925, no doubt with cheeses and wine. The entire supply chain and production for the cheese is located in the mountains at 8,500 feet above sea level in Dolomite Mountains. A good sampling would include Asiago, Caciotta black truffle, sharp Provolone, Imbriago drunken cheese and Lagorai.
Glory be to cheeses!