After having dinner at a restaurant serving a pig’s blood-based carbonara, David Briggs, owner of Xocolatl de David, a Portland-based artisan chocolate wholesaler, saved the idea and incorporated it into his chocolate. “The chocolate is more modeled after a bread pudding or blood sausage,” Briggs says.
The chocolate industry, already having shown strength during a shaky economy, continues to see creative energy among small artisan shops where a personalized touch can be found in the product.
Sarah Hart, owner of Alma Chocolates, a Portland shop opened in 2006 that has gained national attention, also credits the low cost of setting up a chocolate business. Alma Chocolates specializes in custom-molded confections gilded with edible gold leaf. “I started doing custom-mould pieces because at that point there were just really bad moldings,” says Hart.
Pig’s blood and gold-dusted crosses might make it in Portland, but apparently not in McMinnville.
“Playing with exotic ingredients doesn’t fly so well in this area,” says Dana Dooley of Honest Chocolates, which opened in 2004. At Honest, the tastes run more toward wine and fruit. It currently works with 35 area wineries, providing chocolates for wine pairings.
“We’re seeing more growth in the fine segment because the American palate is getting more educated,” says Mary Jo Stojak of the Fine Chocolate Industry Association. Even though the price is higher for premium chocolates, “It’s still cheaper than buying a TV or a new dress.” she says.