Complete Chocolate Lover’s Guide for the San Francisco Bay Area

Poco Dolce Monet Olive Oil Bar

Art ’n chocolate


Truly a sweet deal

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In the past few months, I’ve come across two nice collaborations between artisan chocolate makers and their local art museums. While I like both — and hope to see more of this kind of symbiosis, I think the SFBA one is a real deal.

VMFA rabbit
Bars at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts feature pieces from their permanent collection like this Fabergé rabbit.

Chocolate bunnies

When Cacaopod & I were in Richmond, VA, for New Year’s, we stopped by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to see the special exhibit on Jasper Johns and Edvard Munch. If you are ever in Richmond (and like art), make some time for the museum. It’s open 365 days/year, and general admission is free! The museum and grounds are attractive, the collections are extensive with lots of high quality pieces and big names, and the gift shop is great.

In addition to the art books, postcards, coffee mugs and scarves you’d expect to find, the VMFA gift shop has clothes, housewares, toys, furniture — they even sell those clear acrylic ghost chairs there.

We walked the entire store like we were viewing another art collection. Cacaopod picked up some art supplies while I mulled buying an African telephone wire basket. I decided “no” (traveling), but when we went to check out, I spied a display of chocolate bars next to the cash register.

There were several different labels, but we were told the chocolate in all of them was identical, so we picked the image we liked best: the Fabergé Rabbit Bell Push. VMFA has a large-ish collection of Fabergé (the largest outside of Russia according to their website). I’m not so into the elaborate eggs, which is what most people know of Fabergé, but this naturalistic little bunny (5″ tall with garnets for eyes) is impressive all by itself. Frankly, I forgot what the other 2 images were, and the sales clerk told us that the rabbit was the biggest seller.

804 chocolate

The bar was small (1 oz.), and I wouldn’t have bought it except that I checked the label to see who the manufacturer was and where it was made. The label said it was made by “de Rochonnet delights, LLC, Local Chocolatier” and had a phone number with an 804 area code. Since I used to live in Richmond, VA, I knew that number was legit.

I looked up de Rochonnet delights when I got back home and was happy to discover that the founder has extensive education in European styles of chocolate making. It shows in the bar, which was a smooth, creamy, mild dark chocolate, maybe a little bit savory. Definitely not the too-sweet chocolate I often encounter on the East Coast.

According to their website, they use French or Belgian couverture, and their dark chocolate is 54-64% cocoa butter. They offer a variety of truffles, bars, barks, and other chocolates, lots of them novelties. For example, a uniquely Richmond, VA collection of chocolate tiles depicting the statues of the Confederate president and his generals that line Monument Ave.

From a chocolatier in a town where someone tells you a story about their cousin Jeb, and you realize in the telling that they mean Jeb Stuart, the Confederate general, this makes sense.

Chocolate impressions

Poco Dolce Art Bars
These Poco Dolce Art Bars include a discount for the Monet show at the Legion of Honor

Back home in our own little SFBA bubble, Poco Dolce Confections just announced a new line of chocolate bars that they are producing in collaboration with the Legion of Honor and de Young Museums. Art Bars are limited editions of Poco Dolce’s regular bars wrapped in reproductions of pieces from special exhibits put on by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

The first edition of Art Bars features Impressionist artwork from the Legion of Honor’s “Monet: The Early Years” exhibit. The 3 bars in this limited edition series are a new 37% Milk, a 68% Bittersweet & Sea Salt, and — my fav — Poco Dolce’s 68% Bittersweet Olive Oil & Sea Salt.

Chocolate & a show

So, I’m already on board with this idea — a pretty wrapper around my favorite Poco Dolce flavor — but it’s even better: The bars are the same price as the bars with Poco Dolce’s standard wrappers, but they each come with a 15% off discount code for the featured exhibit. Score! Not only do you not pay more for a limited edition wrapper, but you get a discount on the show. And if you have a group (or just really like these bars), you can buy a carton of 12 and get a dollar off each bar. Sweet!

The Legion of Honor’s Monet exhibit runs through May 29, 2017. I’m not sure if the Monet Art Bars will be available until the show closes, so you might want to buy yours now to take advantage of this deal. And look for future limited edition series of Art Bars from Poco Dolce.

Poco Dolce Confections, 2421 3rd St, SF.

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Published March 6, 2017