Eleanor who, you might ask?

Pump Street Oat Milk almost inexplicably…and perhaps only to me… has a very old-fashioned ring to it (in a good way).  (Side note: For all I know, Pump Street is the most up-to-date, least old-fashioned business in Suffolk.)

Since this bar has now become what I would consider to be one of my favorites, it seemed only fitting to photograph it with some old-fashioned favorite novels of mine (including a bestseller…in 1916.  That makes it over one hundred years old.  There is an delicate sheet of yellowed and stained tracing paper sewn into the book next to the one of the illustrations at the beginning.  When’s the last time you saw that in a novel?!)

Pump Street Chocolate

My Pump Street is resting on Just David by Eleanor Porter.  I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s a well-written tale of a boy who comes down from his mountain home, who nobody knows who he is, including himself (he’s “Just David”), who seems very naive to many aspects of life and yet who perplexes and astounds a whole town with his mastery of languages and especially his mastery of the violin (or “fiddling” as the townspeople put it).

Eleanor Porter is better known as the author of Pollyanna, which was made into a 1960 movie starring Hayley Mills.  Surely I’m not the only one who still quotes this movie.  I can still make my siblings giggle by a well-placed “And I had my heart set on lamb’s broth today” (in a plaintive Mrs. Snow-like voice) every now and again.

The book on the right (depicting flora found in Indiana) was published in 1904 and the binding is already falling apart (so I didn’t feel too bad about laying it open to get this shot).

The oats you see sprinkled here and there for effect were published in…(giggle).  I’m sorry.  I couldn’t help it, but I realize that’s getting a little ridiculous and you most likely aren’t even here for the books, you’re here for the chocolate.

Pump Street has many bars that get rave reviews (rye crumb, sourdough) and so I knew I Pump Street would be an excellent choice for my first taste of oat milk chocolate.  This bar is “brilliant” as the Brits would say.  A slightly nutty / oatmeal taste comes through but without being overpowering.  It’s a very rich, fudgy bar.  (And in case you’re new to Pump Street: Their packages are resealable, which is a handy feature for people who have more restraint than me and only eat 1-2 pieces a day!)

I purchased this bar from Caputo’s.  That link goes directly to their chocolate page.  I shall not be held responsible for anything that might happen between you and your credit card if you go there.

So there you have it…since Eleanor Porter is one of my favorite authors and Pump Street oat milk is now one of my favorite chocolates, I’m calling it the “Eleanor Porter of Chocolates”.   Though if you know me very well you know I have “sixty-eleven” favorites chocolates…….

Instead of telling you all about a specific chocolate bar this time, I thought I’d mention a few chocolate-related products I’ve tried that contain chocolate or cacao, or at least products related to cacao…  (Husks count, right?)

Friends gifted me with my first taste of mint chocolate Smashmallows.
“Maybe you can put them on your website.”
So, naturally, you’d think that the Smashmallows in this photo were the ones they gave me.
Uh, no. Those disappeared too fast.

(They were THERE.  And then somehow they got OPENED.  And then all of a sudden they were GONE.)

This necessitated a replacement bag, to actually take photos of this time.
One can never have too many marshmallows.
Correction: Smashmallows.

And apparently one can never go wrong making hot chocolate in the middle of a Saturday afternoon.

There will still be takers.

Smashmallows Mint Chocolate Chip Marshmallows Still Life Photo


Mint chocolate Smashmallows are yum and and have you SEEN some of the flavors? Cinnamon churro, coconut pineapple, cookie dough!!  (The toasted vanilla would probably make pretty awesome rice crispy treats. Just saying.)


Arte Sano Cacao Pod Soap

This was a bar of soap I purchased locally, because cacao husks sounding intriguing as an exfoliant.

It turns out the husks were more effective at alarming me into thinking there were bugs in my bathwater than actually helping scrub my skin, but that was my fault for being paranoid.  (This soap does not contain any bugs.  It just so happens that husks look like bugs to anyone who is blind as a bat without their glasses on.  #me)

Burts Bees Blueberry & Dark Chocolate Lip Balm

Burt’s Bees Blueberry & Dark Chocolate Moisturizing Lip Balm

While I am generally a fan of Burt’s Bees products, and this lip balm DID keep my lips moisturized, I can’t say that it smelled particularly of chocolate OR blueberry.  I’ve had better success with the classic Burts Bees peppermint lip balm (THAT smells like peppermint and works great).

Fossa Chocolate (made in Singapore) first made a blip on my chocolate radar last year and almost instantly my attention focused on one of their most unusual inclusion bars, Fossa Chocolate Shrimp and Bonito. (They have other unusual inclusion bars. Salted Egg Cereal Chocolate; need I say more?)

Fossa Chocolate Shrimp and Bonito Sushi Still Life

It was rather amusing to see the reactions when I told everyone about “the shrimp chocolate”. Generally the responses to unusual inclusions are mixed, ranging from baffled to wary to an “I’m up for anything” face, but “the shrimp bar” delivered an almost unanimous reaction of “In *chocolate*? No thanks! You can have it.” (So I did. This is probably the first ever craft chocolate bar I have eaten entirely by myself…without sharing one bite.)

From the beginning, I got it into my head that a perfect photo accessory would be sushi. (After all, I had never used sushi as a photo prop, and it *is* available if one carefully plots how to arrive *after* the restaurant opens but get home in enough time to photograph it *before* the afternoon sun disappears and the lighting starts getting wonky.)  (Which is both a splurge and a little tricky, but not entirely impossible.)

Fossa Chocolate Shrimp and Bonito Sushi Still Life

Pieces of shrimp seemed like a good idea too; I’m more than a little sure I perplexed the sushi restaurant employees by ordering ebi fui without the breading, without the sauce, just the shrimp, please and thank you. Of course they obliged, and of course I found out when I got home and opened it up that the shrimp was…not cooked. As in, grey, and not exactly what anyone could call picture perfect.  And since I didn’t have as much time for picture-taking that afternoon as I’d originally thought, the shrimp got temporarily shelved. (It pinked up nicely in a butter sauce with garlic that evening; my dad enjoyed his rare snack.)

If I’m being honest, the smell of salt and fish was beginning to make me dubious regarding how much enjoyment would be involved in actually *eating* this bar.  It seemed like a lot of the thrill was talking about it and preparing for it.  But bravely a piece went into my mouth. There was chewing involved. And some thought.   Another bite…more chewing….

Fossa Chocolate Shrimp and Bonita Made in Singapore

There’s a lot going on this bar.  There’s the seafood, of course, which thankfully ends up being not too incredibly fishy (but fishy enough).  The flavor of the chocolate itself is rather hard to distinguish when paired with bonito furikake.  (I had to look furikake up.  Turns out it’s exactly what it looks like: sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, and spices.)

Sesame and chocolate are great together.  Salt and chocolate are growing on me.   But add shrimp and a seaweed and…my final decision is that I’m not sorry I tried it and I did have a lot of fun with this bar, but it’s not going to make my list of favorite chocolates.  (Which technically doesn’t exist.  Because really, how does one chose with so many incredible options?)

The Fossa Chocolate Shrimp and Bonito bar either ties for 1st place or takes 2nd place (haven’t decided which yet) for the most unusual chocolate inclusion I have ever tried. (I’m pretty sure 1st prize still belongs to the Mantuano fat-bottomed bachaco ants ..LARGE ANTS, mind you…in lemon chocolate.)

Fossa Chocolate Shrimp and Bonita Made in Singapore

Have a favorite Fossa? Have you tried the Shrimp and Bonito bar? Any new unusual inclusion bars I should try next if I have the chance? Let me know in the comments…

Castronovo White Chocolate With Lemon Still Life Photo

Whenever I would run across online summaries of the best white chocolates, I could almost count on finding Castronovo White Chocolate With Lemon on everyone’s short list.

After all, it made it to the TOP of the judge’s lists at the 2017 International Chocolate Awards (in the Americas / White Chocolate category).

Castronovo White Chocolate with Lemon International Chocolate Gold Award Winner

Being a decent-sized fan of white chocolate and a BIG fan of lemon chocolate, this bar made it to the top of my rather exclusive list of bars-to-get-in-2019, so much so that whole orders were rearranged or delayed based on where it was and was not in stock. The reviews were so good I ordered TWO. (One disappeared somewhere along the long route to me….all I’m going to say is, whoever swiped it has *excellent* taste…but thankfully the other made it.)

Finally a Castronovo White Chocolate with Lemon was MINE and the first order of business was opening it upon arrival and taking a big huge bite and…


Part of how I share my chocolate is in the form of pictures, so into the photography queue it went. Supposedly at the top of the queue. But strange things kept happening to the queue. One Saturday I had full intentions of photographing my Castronovo but then I had lugged in a rock that didn’t quite match (but went with some other wrappers beautifully), and had purchased some mint (that wouldn’t keep) for my Boho bar, and something new was blooming that wouldn’t match either (and one must pounce on new blooms before they wither; new photoprops don’t pop up every day!)…and so my Castronovo waited patiently while I waited not so patiently to try it.

Finally the day came.   The wrapper wasn’t even completely off before the mouth-watering scent of sweet lemon made my nose start doing a happy dance.   Ok.  Fine.  Maybe more than my nose was doing a happy dance. Shiny flecks of yellow lemon salt decorated the back of the bar; as I don’t recall seeing any in the front, it seems to me the salt must have been sprinkled on the back instead of being incorporated throughout. It was all I could do to snap this:

Castronovo White Chocolate With Lemon Unwrapped Yellows Still Life Photo

…before breaking off a section and popping it into my mouth and:

Sheer bliss. Sweet and tangy and lemon-y and custard-y with a bite of lemon salt here and there.

When you all said Castronovo White Chocolate With Lemon was THE BEST, YOU WEREN’T KIDDING.

I broke a rule. I’m not feeling too awful about it at the moment since it is (was?) a self-imposed rule, and a rather silly one at that. It went something like this: Only ever buy one bar from each chocolate company, and then move on to another chocolate company (the point being to try chocolate from as many different companies as possible). (This rule mainly applied to imported craft chocolate and did not extend to local favorites such as Franceschi, Chocolates Paria, etc. etc.)

Omnom Lakkris Licorice Icelandic Chocolate

The problem with the rule is that too many chocolate makers make such intriguing flavors that oftentimes I can’t help but want to try more than one.  However,  “the rule” pretty much kept me in check until last winter, when this licorice* lover caved and purchased the Omnom Lakkris + Sea Salt bar, despite already having had the now-discontinued Omnom Dark milk + Burned Sugar bar. (That’s not all. There was also a 2nd Charmschool and a 2nd Fruition involved, but that’s a story for another day…)

The clever wrapper revealed a caramel-color bar sectioned off into odd shapes of various sizes. Biting into one of those shapes revealed a wonder; a creamy, caramel-y, tangy, licorice-y perfection with just a taste of saltiness.

Resisting the temptation to eat the whole bar in one sitting, I saved some samples.   Slowly, after weeks of Saturday photography sessions, there were enough samples to make up little tasting trays to deliver to friends.  Next step: waiting for feedback.  Especially of interest to me was feedback from the the white chocolate lovers
and the licorice lovers. It didn’t take long for the reports to come in.

Omnom Lakkris Licorice Chocolate Unwrapped

“That licorice one from Iceland was AMAZING.” Yeah no kidding.
“That white chocolate, the one with the licorice…it was AWESOME.” Agreed.
“Did you get that here?!” Uh, no. Sorry. I’d love to say I brought back from my latest trip to Reykjavik,
the truth is I’ve never been to Reykjavik and probably never will go to Reykjavik. Going to Reykjavik is called traveling and I don’t seem to do much or any of that…unless you count my taste buds getting to travel the world thanks to chocolate.

It’s been months since we tried this bar but it is certainly not forgotten. “That licorice one from Iceland” (which is obviously much easier to remember than “Omnom Lakkris“) comes up in conversation now and then, always with a rather starry gaze of fond remembrance.

Even the resident Mr. “I don’t eat white chocolate because it isn’t chocolate” ate two pieces and probably
would have eaten a third if he’d had the option. (Sadly he didn’t; the resident craft chocolate dictator (me!) dictated that some must be saved for those who really appreciate white chocolate even when it doesn’t have licorice or come from such an exotic locale.)

As for the self-imposed rule, so far I’ve remained impervious to getting a third bar from Omnom.
Of course that may have something to do with not being able to ship in chocolate for nine months out of the year.
I have it on good authority from friends that the Coffee Omnom bar is also amazing….

Alaina Cursive Signature



*There’s licorice and there’s LICORICE. If you ask me, hard waxy stuff isn’t licorice. On the other hand, the
soft, chewy, almost melt-in-your-mouth stuff made by Panda? Now that’s LICORICE.

Solstice Madagascar Chocolate

What have we here?  Why it’s Solstice Madagascar Chocolate

Simplistic, well-thought-out and cheerful packaging (resealable in case I ever ate my chocolate in more than one sitting) and oh the taste… I tasted wonderfully fruity notes and the mouthfeel is incredible.

Solstice Chocolate is made in Salt Lake City Utah (Utah is home to quite a few chocolate makers, and that’s exactly the reason I’d love to go to Utah!)

The chocolate itself was bright and cheerful looking (with what I’d describe as little suns on each square) but unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of the chocolate itself to turn out (at least nothing that would hold a candle to the one above)!

The other Solstice origins come highly recommended.

My next pick would be their Dark Milk (my favorite type of chocolate).

Alaina Cursive Signature


Tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap.
It was a Saturday morning a few weeks ago around 6:30.
Tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap.
I was still half asleep, trying to figure out why it sounded like somebody was hammering a nail into the wall to hang up a picture at such an early hour.
Tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap.
I opened my eyes and focused in on the rare sight of a gorgeous, bright red cardinal, industriously attacking my window with his beak. (Either he wasn’t pleased with his reflection or he was trying to get in because he could see my insanely colorful bouquet of mixed photo prop flowers and was convinced they were real.)

“Hey, pretty bird.” He cocked his head.” “Yes, you.” He stopped tapping. “You’re gorgeous.” At which point he literally bowed, puffed out his chest (more than a little bit), and said, “I KNOW.”

He very boldly kept up the tapping and/or hanging around my window for close to an hour.  I was allowed to take all the blurry photos and videos I wanted to from a distance, but if I tried to get close enough to take a decent shot, he’d flit just out of range to the nearest tree / cactus / aloe plant, wait just long enough for me to give up, and then come back and start tap tap tap tap tap tap tapping again.

That very same Saturday, I happened to photograph this chocolate:

Hogarth Gianduia Chocolate Still Life Photo

Hogarth Gianduia Chocolate (I purchased mine via Bar and Cocoa.)

It posed so much better than the cardinal did! I marveled at the packaging; thick paper with engraved waves that can be felt on both sides. I may have squealed a little when seeing the intricately molded bar in person. The taste outdid expectations (which were high); think a posh Nutella in bar form without the palm oil; a mouthwatering hazelnut dark chocolate. “You’re gorgeous AND delicious,” I told the chocolate.  At which point it said, “I KNOW. I’ve got a GOLD international chocolate award and a GOLD academy of chocolate award to prove it.”

To anybody who may have seen me outside that day at 3pm, standing motionless in the sun, gingerly balancing a chocolate bar on its foil wrapper for about 1 minute and 45 seconds: I was not going crazy. I was sunning this bar. It sadly had to be stored in the fridge (otherwise it would be PUDDING) and therefore it was looking a little grey and buttery (as cold chocolate is prone to do).  There was a very brief discussion about steaming it or wiping it to make it look picture-perfect but then it was decided maybe a minute or two in the sun was a better option. It was just the ticket; the chocolate changed colors beautifully and then I whisked it inside to do this with it:

Hogarth Gianduia Chocolate Unwrapped Stilllife

Gorgeous, no?

The irony of my chocolate getting to travel far more than I do was not lost on me as I stood there in the sun, holding a chocolate made in New Zealand, using beans grown in Puerto Cabello Venezuela, that was shipped to the U.S.A. to be sold, and then shipped back to Venezuela to me!

The cardinal has visited almost every morning and continues to tap on several different windows.  (I’m almost positive he has figured out which window to visit at which times to get the maximum amount of attention.)
My sister says the bird needs a name.
My brother has taken to calling him Mr. Tappy Face.
I think we should name him Hogarth.

Hogarth The Cardinal

(When I said he would only allow me close enough to take blurry photos, I wasn’t kidding!)

Finally I found a chocolate that the whole family can agree on:
The Tea Room Jasmine Green Tea Chocolate

The Tea Room Jasmine Green Tea Chocolate

Usually the dark chocolate lovers find milk chocolate too sweet. And the milk chocolate lovers find the dark chocolate too…well…dark. (They’re the ones that go around chanting “N-E-S-T-L-E-S makes the very best CHOC-LATE” repeatedly…. while grinning incessantly… while I playfully plug my ears and chant “I-can’t-hear-you”. I don’t deny eating Nestles chocolate, but as for it being the very best, don’t get me started!)

If my chocolate photography session is going swimmingly I may open up to 3 chocolates in a single afternoon, which ends up being the cause of some confusion regarding everyone keeping track of their favorite. “I think the one I liked the best was the one that had the stuff in it, not the one that was darker and not the one you said was made in….wherever.” (I know. They’re very specific.)

In the case of The Tea Room Jasmine Green Tea Chocolate I received immediate feedback that this one was GOOD.  Jasmine tea and tangerine essence are an excellent flavor pairing; the chocolate itself was admittedly very sweet (which can be a nice change when tasted alongside two 70% chocolates)!  It’s not handcrafted bean to bar chocolate (unless I read all the wrong resources online), but on the other hand it wasn’t as pricey either.

Note: I purchased mine from iherb.  On Amazon it is only available in packs of 12 … too many at once for me! A month or so after tasting it I did go ahead and get a second bar and learned I am just as unspecific as the rest of the family.  “So what is this?” “Oh it’s that one you liked a few weeks ago.”  “I liked several a few weeks ago!”

Good point.

There’s a day for everything.  (Like Lima Bean Respect Day. That’s April 20th… in case you want to mark your calendar.) My ears perked up when I heard today was National Chocolate Mint Day.  I happen to be a big mint chocolate fan.  In case you’re looking for suggestions on which chocolates with mint to try, I happen to have a few:

National Chocolate Mint Day Alter Eco Truffles

Alter Eco Organic Dark Mint Truffles:  These literally melt in your mouth.  The ingredients are simply cocoa powder, cocoa butter, coconut oil, whole milk powder, peppermint oil, vanilla beans, and raw cane sugar.  Bonus: The wrappers do not contain plastic and therefore are entirely compostable!

Endangered Species Deep Forest Mint: Refreshing mint taste!

Equal Exchange Mint Crunch Chocolate

Equal Exchange Chocolate Mint:  Love how crunchy and minty it is!

Madecasse Mint Crunch:  I’ve heard a lot of good things about Madecasse recently but am not sure if I have tried their mint bar yet.  But I will! I have a bar and hope to get to it soon.  I’ll try to report back!

Ritter Sport Peppermint: Because I can’t resist the cool mint oozing out of each square of chocolate….

The latest fruit that has captured my taste buds is cranberries (although nothing can beat a good slice of a sweet, perfectly ripe pineapple).  If shipping weren’t so expensive I’d be temped by the cranberries in the 64oz size.

So naturally I was eager to try the Pacari Cranberry bar…

Pacari Cranberry Chocolate - The Chocolate Website Photo

Pacari Chocolate (made in Ecuador) was once again a World Final Winner (in multiple categories!) at the International Chocolate Awards this year.

Their bars seem to be widely popular everywhere (in the U.S. and Europe especially).

The chocolate itself was delicious (yes, I know, I’m going to have to start being more specific than that…2018 is going to involve taking notes while staring at a tasting chart!) but I had a hard time finding many cranberries in my particular bar.  You can never have enough cranberries!

Note: I purchased my Pacari Cranberry bar from an online store called Noje.  While this particular bar is not currently in stock (and their selection is admittedly not as large as other online craft chocolate stores), I am extremely pleased with their shipping policy (shipping is free on orders of $30 or more, while other stores only offer free shipping with orders of $50 or $75 or more) AND the amazing customer service.   My chocolate was wrapped up exactly as requested in order to have the best chance of making the journey unscathed.  Save








Seems to me I’ve written about this exact chocolate before.  No matter… it’s good enough to repeat!

Equal Exchange Mint Crunch Chocolate

I plunked this Mint Crunch bar by Equal Exchange down next to a basket, took a photo, and said, “OK, let’s eat it!”  (Well, almost.  Those mint leaves didn’t exactly wash and arrange themselves.)

The reason I was in such a hurry?  To open it, of course.   I’d had the pleasure of trying this mint chocolate before and remembered it as having just the right amount of crunch and just the right amount of mint.

I remembered correctly.


Alter Eco Deep Dark Sea Salt Chocolate

This is Alter Eco Deep Dark Sea Salt Chocolate; isn’t it pretty?

Let me take a deep breath and tell you all about it: It’s a rich, bold, salty, sweet, deep, dark, organic, gluten free, vegan, non-gmo, fairtrade, sea salt studded chocolate.  Whew.

Yes, I absconded with some pink sea salt for decoration purposes, but for the record, I put it back.  Sort of.  There might have been trouble if somebody found I put it back directly into the salt shaker, so I put it in a little bowl on the counter, intending to use it on my food.  Somebody found the little bowl.  “What’s this?”  “Salt, leftover from my photoshoot.  I didn’t want to waste it so I’m keeping it.”  “Ewwww!”  “What?! I used a clean spoon and I wiped my white background first and I’ll be the one eating it.”  “Ewwwww!”

How does this chocolate taste?  Good question. You’ll have to get it and let me know.  🙂  This is one of the rare chocolates I photographed and then gave away without tasting it.   (I’d have to recall who I gave it to and then ask them if they recall what it tasted like!)

That’s all for now…