Chocolate

The other day some “well-meaning” person told me I had smears of chocolate on my cheek, neck and ear, and then, with pity in their sanctimonious eyes and a glance at my voluptuous choco-booty, mentioned that exercising can help quell chocolate cravings. To which I replied, why would anyone ever wish to stifle the finest craving ever invented? It just so happens that I wear my chocolate smears as a badge of honor, and so should you. Here are the top places in Portland to get your cacao on.

Cacao

Screen Shot 2013-08-09 at 3.18.23 PMThe name says it all—this gorgeous store in downtown’s fashionable West End district is the source for all good things from the other Supreme Bean. A temple to the mighty cacao bean, with lofty ceilings, marble countertops, a selection of both local and internationally-sourced chocolate bars that would move an Oompa Loompa to tears, truffles and caramels by the piece, delectable chocolate sauces, coffee drinks, and hot and iced chocolate, this is both a destination to share with others and ground zero for any personal chocolate needs you may have. But it’s the drinking chocolates that are so good they have the power to heal the sick(&tired) and bring back the (brain)dead, which is why I visit Cacao every day after work. $2 for a cup of Revival seems like a deal to me. If you’re on the other end of downtown and need a theobromine kick, visit the tiny, exquisite Cacao annex inside the Heathman Hotel.

Missionary Chocolates

missionarychocolatessquareThe next time your favorite vegan does something nice for you, you might want to return the favor with a box of Missionary truffles. Actually, the next time your favorite non-vegan does something nice for you, you could do the same, because Missionary truffles are so dark, dense and creamy, they are a shoo-in success for any chocolate lover, vegan or not. Missionary’s signature almond balls, coconut silk, raspberry hearts, espresso squares, cinnamon chipotle, peanut butter, and Meyer Lemon Explosion truffles are handmade in Portland with locally sourced organic ingredients and you can find them around town at various farmers’ markets, Whole Foods, Food Front Co-op, Food Fight, Sheridan’s Fruit Company, and PETA rallies. Just kidding about that last one.

Pix Patisserie

pixchocolatecasesquareWhen I was little, I thought I wanted to be a scientist when I grew up. This dream died quickly when I read The Value of Believing in Yourself: The Story of Louis Pasteur, and my key takeaway was that being a scientist was a scary job involving rabid dogs, dangerous germs and very large needles. How could I have foreseen the advent of Pix Patisserie’s chocolate lab, a magical place where chocolate scientists mix and blend and swirl lovely things like cacao, cream, butter, sugar, marzipan, pistachios, rosemary, blue cheese, fleur de sel, and chipotle to create beautiful chocolates like the Ambrosia–rosemary ganache and a port reduction in a technicolor chocolate shell, and the Troubador–milk chocolate ganache layered with marzipan and crystallized ginger? Not to mention the Chocolate Drenched Drunken Cherries, which are given a good long soaking in Kirsch then dipped in fondant and bittersweet chocolate. If only I’d known that I could have gone into Chocolate Science, without so much as one rabid dog or big needle in sight.

The Meadow

meadowchocwallsquareThe Meadow is a wonderful place filled with flowers, wine, chocolate, and a rather astonishing selection of artisan salts–rock salt, flake salt, coarse salt, finishing salt, sea salt, gray salt, smoked salt, curing salt, Himalayan salt slabs, salt grinders, salt graters, salt spoons–it’s enough to give a girl hypertension of the eyeballs. But after you’ve ogled the salt, bow before The Meadow’s glorious wall of chocolate, where I was nearly rendered speechless by the selection of fine chocolates. Try few of my saliferous favorites, like the luscious Vosges Barcelona Bars with hickory smoked almonds and fleur de sel, chocolate-covered salted caramels by Portland’s own Xocolatl de Daví­d, and the lust-inducing Cioccolato Fondente al Sale by Italian chocolatier Cioccolato di BruCo–two dark Italian chocolate bars heavily accented with…you guessed it, really good salt.

Xocolatl de Davíd

xocolatldedavidsquareI’m always wary when someone hands me a Xocolatl de Davíd’s chocolate, because even though former Park Kitchen sous chef-turned-master chocolatier David Briggs makes some of the finest chocolates to have ever passed my lips, once I was given one of his pig’s blood ganaches by a real funny jokester and that memory doesn’t die easily. Although he works from his secret lair in the back of Meat Cheese Bread, David doesn’t technically have a storefront, so check his website for the nearest source of his exquisite sweet and savory and tea-infused chocolates (think vanilla brown butter, mole, strawberry balsamic, orange cardamom, creme fraiche, hojicha, and kir royal), salted caramel chocolate bars, Raleigh bars (salted caramel with pecan chocolate nougat), rhubarb chocolate preserves, and my favorite wunderdrink–the thick, creamy, and Daddy Warbucks-rich Champ’s Chocolate Milk, found exclusively at Pine State Biscuits.