California: A Chocolate Lover’s Paradise

When I visit a city the first thing I investigate is the local chocolate. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to find a bean to bar establishment and take a private tour through a chocolate kitchen, which I love. And sometimes I spend my time in a local chocolate shop sipping and sampling and chatting. On a recent trip to Santa Barbara I discovered Chocolate Maya. Maya, the proprietor, grew up in Geneva Switzerland. Her words: “In Europe chocolate is part of our diet. I ate chocolate with my breakfast every day and grew strong bones because of it.” I knew I had landed in just the right place.

IMG_6126In addition to her own creations, which are absolutely lovely, she carries some of my favorite bean to bar artisan chocolates.

Twenty-Four Blackbirds is a bean to bar establishment located in Santa Barbara and the chocolate does not disappoint. They even make these adorable half ounce bars for that ‘little nibble’ and really? That’s all you need.

Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate is located in Eureka, California. I can’t resist the Black Fig bar.

Bar Au Chocolat comes from Manhattan Beach, California and it’s one of my absolute favorite single origin chocolate establishments. I’m partial to the Madagascar bar but I also enjoy the Chiapas, Mexico bar. If you have a minute and you want a good chuckle check out the French lesson page on their website.

Chocolate Maya also carries Rogue and Marou chocolate and while those bars aren’t local to California, they are both superb, which tells me Maya has very good taste in fine chocolate. I won’t even tell you what I paid for the Rogue Porcelana bar; I”ll be sure to make that one last a very long time.

And Marou has not only the most amazing chocolate but one of the best chocolate stories I’ve heard in a very long time: “It begins like an evocative tale from old Indochina with two French émigrés crossing paths for the first time while trekking through a Vietnamese jungle. But that’s how the co-founders of Marou — Faiseurs de Chocolat first met.”

I’ll be talking about a couple of these bars next Saturday in my Tea & Chocolate Hour: ‘Food for the Soul’ Collage Making Session. It’s an opportunity to join me for ‘breakfast’. We meet on the phone and it’s freeeeeeeee. You’ll learn a lot about chocolate tasting (and choosing) all while playing with paper. When is the last time you sat down and created a collage? Fun! You can find out more about that and sign up right here.


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And, if you’re planning a trip to Santa Barbara any time soon be sure to check out my recent blog post for some great restaurant recommendations. California Dreamin’


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10 Responses to California: A Chocolate Lover’s Paradise

  1. Cris Gladly May 31, 2015 at 4:37 pm #

    Wow … that shop in Santa Barbara looks darling!! Love the branding on twenty-four blackbirds. 🙂 So glad you had a wonderful trip there. I’ve always wanted to go there.


    • Sue Ann Gleason June 1, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

      You would have loved this shop, Cris! You definitely need to put Santa Barbara on your bucket list. And, I agree, the packaging for twenty-four blackbirds is gorgeous. Now if they would just tell us their story. It’s funny, we’ve come to expect that now.

  2. Penny May 31, 2015 at 5:30 pm #

    Saw the image for ‘twenty four blackbirds’ on your Instagram feed and was intrigued, now I know the backstory! We have a nursery rhyme here in UK ‘sing a song of sixpence, a pocketful of rye, four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie’ Do you have this in America? Is this where the name comes from? I really love the thought of a ‘little nibble’ bar. X

    • Neens Bea June 1, 2015 at 5:35 am #

      Penny, have you seen the Miss Marple episode A Pocketful of Rye? I won’t go into details – it might put people off their morning chocolate – but as the title suggest, it is all about this nursery rhyme! 🙂

      • Sue Ann Gleason June 1, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

        Now you’ve got me curious.

    • Sue Ann Gleason June 1, 2015 at 12:47 pm #

      Yes, Penny, I know this rhyme (former first grade teacher) but I couldn’t find ‘the story’ on the twenty four blackbirds website which was a great disappointment. I’ll have to give them a call! xxoo

  3. Neens Bea June 1, 2015 at 5:32 am #

    What a yummy post! I remember a scene from the film Lost in Austen where the Bennett family is having chocolate for breakfast. We sort of did in Norway as well, but it was a chocolate spread, and I doubt it had much actual cacao in it. Still, research shows that even plain old milk chocolate gives you strong bones! By the way, I read this for breakfast, and now have a serious hankering for chocolate. I guess I have no choice but to have some Charbonnel & Walker pink champagne truffles – it’s all I have in the house right now. Such a tough life… 😉

    • Sue Ann Gleason June 1, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

      Tough life indeed, Neens! Ha, ha, enjoy. xxoo

  4. rebecca@altaredspaces June 1, 2015 at 11:57 am #

    I am going to make this my new motto for visiting places, “When I visit a city the first thing I investigate is the local chocolate.” Sounds like a totally delicious way to explore. Who doesn’t want to spend time visiting this way, “sipping and sampling and chatting?”

    Good Lord! What a culture: “‘In Europe chocolate is part of our diet. I ate chocolate with my breakfast every day and grew strong bones because of it.’ I knew I had landed in just the right place.” And this reminds me that the way we see our food is such an altared space…it changes SO MUCH about the way we live.

    I don’t know about this whole “bean to bar” thing so I signed up for your freeee session. Sounds lovely. The photos? Ahhhhhhh. I don’t know if my favorite is the planes or the collage. Love the light and the color.

    • Sue Ann Gleason June 1, 2015 at 12:43 pm #

      I love it that you want to learn more about ‘this bean to bar thing’ and I’m thrilled you’ll be with me on Saturday for breakfast. Can’t wait to see your collage.

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