It would be a challenging task to find someone who doesn’t like chocolate. It’s a universal symbol for all things sweet, luscious, romantic, sexy, and comforting. Chocolate manifests in a limitless array of variety; found in brownies, ice cream, milk, cookies, tarts, pies, covering raisins, pretzels, malts, ants, frog legs, you name it and it’s been chocolatified. Chocolate brings children, lovers, family, and strangers together. It’s a gift of love and an act of surrender. It builds community, activates kinky thoughts, suppresses depression, and makes you swoon with uncontrollable euphoria. Some underestimate and even resist the power of chocolate and its ability to enrapture and hypnotize. Others cannot deny and submit to its creamy and seductive calls with unhindered obedience.
I recently met a gentleman who can sympathize with this near obsession, a fiend who has created a chocolate that is pure and natural, manifest in its purest form using no sugar or dairy. Daniel Sklaar is the mastermind behind Fine & Raw, an all raw chocolate that uses the simplest ingredients with the least amount of production, preserving its nutritional values while softly blasting rich yet light flavor.
Fine & Raw comes in a few steady bars, from 78% to 83% cacao with or without nibs, and Raspberry 76% cacao (my favorite). They are subtle and slightly bitter, brittle in texture that delicately fall apart in your mouth with a sigh of cacao that exhales in near silence. There is also the inexplicably simple Lucuma bar (a Peruvian fruit the provides a slight malted caramel taste) that includes nothing more than raw cacao, vanilla, and agave providing the dark and complex taste that lingers for your taste buds to float in.
Also, the bonbons are not to be missed, which just might be better than the bars, with their irresistibly rich truffle bodies coated in a layer of chocolate couverture, thick and creamy to the bite with a hint of salty sweet caught between a sensual web of cacao. I’m salivating as I type these words.
The philosophy behind Find & Raw is centered at the heart and spreads to the community. Chocolate is used as a medium to connect and share, to manifest the intangible experience of communion and nourishment found in food. A journey of self-discovery and perpetual experimentation led to the convergence of food and healing, of community and art that is vital to the existence of Fine & Raw. It’s also about just being silly and having fun and eating chocolate along the way.
All this kumbaya optimism would be quickly dismissed if it weren’t justified by the chocolate making process. Cacao is sourced from Ecuador and Venezuela where the beans represent the culture and heritage it originated and cultivated for thousands of years. Its biodiversity and interaction with surroundings adds to the flavor and romanticism of chocolate. The beans are sustainable and organic, fostering a symbiotic relationship between natural process and cultural significance.