I have to admit when I started reading this article in New York Magazine, I thought it was an April Fool’s joke that I was getting to a couple of weeks late. But the publish date is April 15, so I’m assuming this is for real.
In “The Twee Party,” Benjamin Wallace describes the lengths the Mast Brothers (bean-to-bar chocolaters in Brooklyn, NY) go to for authentic artisanal chocolate-making. I can’t do better than the article’s description, but it includes a hand-built schooner delivering beans from the Dominican Republic, Civil-War era beards, a blown-glass winnower, and a 30-day “resting” period for the chocolate.
These guys are so serious about what they are doing that it borders on parody. In fact, Benjamin recommends: “If you’ve ever wondered what a Christopher Guest documentary about Brooklyn artisans might look like, Google ‘Mast Brothers YouTube’.”
I guess this represents a logical conclusion to pushing your product to the limits of what small-batch, hand-crafted chocolate means, but I find it too funny to take seriously. Lucky for us in the SF Bay Area, we have some excellent bean-to-bar makers who, while holding the Mast Brothers in some esteem, are producing amazing single-origin bars without all the twee-ness describe in the article.
Serious chocolate that tastes good is still a phenomenon to be commented on. It doesn’t need to get into artisanal one-upmanship. We like it, we eat it and share it with friends. Repeat. And one of the chocolate makers we think is doing it right is Dandelion Chocolate, SF chocolatiers, who go to great lengths to source unique beans and develop single-origin bars that showcase those beans’ complex flavors.
Their bars are a great gift for your discerning chocolate-eating friends (and great for your daily chocolate dose). The bars are wrapped in pretty papers with info about the beans, the process, even who made the batch and wrapped the bar.
You can sometimes order the bars online, but often you have to get out and track them down. They are available in a couple of local farmers markets and some retail shops. (I just found out that my nearby Pasta Shop is carrying them!) When their chocolate cafe and factory opens in the Mission later this year, it will be much easier to “source your own” Dandelion Chocolate.
And no waiting for the slow boat from somewhere equatorial to come in.
UPDATE: Dandelion Chocolate Factory and Café opened in 2012. It’s at 740 Valencia St. in SF’s Mission District.
UPDATE 12/16/2015: Mast Brothers were revealed to be less than truthful about their chocolate-making in a 4-part exposé on DallasFood blog, “Mast Brothers: What Lies Beneath the Beards.”