Have been passing this place on Rt 33 a couple of times a week for quite a while now, but always during off-hours. Finally had a chance to stop in. Glad I did, but not sure how often I'll be back.
Arriba Noir is a chocolate shop dedicated to hand-made truffles and chocolate-dipped-everything. They use only single-source Ecuadorian beans to create their bars (75% and 65%) and create all their products from those bars. Therein lies the rub - the chocolate itself is wonderful - full and rich with no bitterness at all, but like with all dark chocolate, a little goes a very long way. I can't see anyone eating more than a couple of pieces of any of the candies without needing a long palate-break, and the intensity of the flavor tends to overshadow the other ingredients. Notable exceptions were dipped cranberries (surprising) and dipped grapes (luscious and moist) but the normal nut-clusters etc were so totally overpowered by the chocolate that one could tell the nut variety only by sight.
The owner will give you the history of chocolate, the history of Ecuador, the history of his family in the business, the chemistry of dark chocolate, the politics of the Ecuadorian cocoa business, the advantages of single-source, all in one non-stop twenty minute lecture, and you will be the better for it, but like many Sunday sermons, the practical applications are left to the listener, and the sheer wealth of information may preclude any real-world benefit. So it is with the chocolate - the details and subtleties get lost in the overpowering world of the cocoa itself. The good news is that they sell their chocolate by the bar, so that you can use it in your own recipe that may (heaven forefend!) include dairy or other heretical ingredients.
I am always a fan of zealots, bringing their passion to market, but too often their zeal serves as blinders to the real-world needs of a business. The fanatic doesn't see a need for more diversity in offerings and often doesn't understand that the public isn't as single-minded as he. I doubt Arriba Noir will be here a year from now, and if you miss it, you will have missed an interesting and educational lecture, as well as some of the finest dark chocolate around.
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