Friday, July 8, 2016

Review - Twentyfour Blackbirds

Last summer my wife and I got away for a weekend to Santa Barbara, CA. Santa Barbara is a gorgeous little beachfront town, and it always feels like vacation there. And as it turns out, it's becoming a bit of a hot spot for artisanal chocolate!

On a previous trip to Santa Barbara, we had discovered an amazing chocolate shop called Chocolate Maya. Nothing but artisanal chocolate from floor to ceiling, Chocolate Maya is kind of a ground zero for chocolate lovers. So of course, when we are in town, it's always on our list to visit.

However, on this particular trip, we discovered another shop. Isabella Gourmet Foods is a great little grocery off of State Street. They sell really great local and artisanal products out of their very cozy shop. I picked up some twenty-four blackbirds drinking chocolate and a canister of Golden Door Ginger Cookies.

Twenty-four blackbirds was started by Michael Orlando while he was busy working as a marine scientist. In a short time, the chocolate won, and he moved to making chocolate full time. It didn't take long for his small company to begin selling a drinking chocolate.

The ginger cookies were also made locally by an interesting company called Golden Door. Their website is a bit overwhelming. I can't tell what exactly they do. They seem to be a resort destination, they have a speaker series, they sell food products... a bit of everything, I guess.

To complete the full Santa Barbara drinking chocolate experience, I picked up a handmade mug and creamer at another local craft store. I sadly didn't get the woman's name who made them, and cannot read it from the bottom of the stoneware.
I absolutely love the colors of them, and the faces are made completely by hand, with the designer using her fingers and fingernails to create them. Really beautiful work!

So lets talk about that chocolate!

It comes with an instruction card and some bits of information about how the chocolate was made. Hand wrapped in craft paper and tied with twine, the packaging is minimal and perfect. Their regular eating bars are decorated with bird artwork and molded with a beautiful leaf impression.

Also on the card is instruction on making a chocolate syrup from the bars. The bars are small, 1 ounce each, which lets you perfectly control how much you're going to make. Simple and to the point, the smooth, flat bars smell amazing as you unwrap them.

I made mine with 2% milk, and I used the creamer to bring along a bit of heavy cream, which I added as I enjoyed the drink, giving it a creamier, less concentrated flavor and bringing out different flavor notes.

The cookies were the perfect snack to serve with it, as well. I'm not a huge fan of serving chocolate cookies or snacks with a chocolate drink, so the strong ginger flavor really paired well with it. And the cookies are crisp, which, of course, is perfect for dunking!

I can't recommend twenty-four blackbirds drinking chocolate enough. It's a really amazing drink, and is definitely helping to raise the bar of what should be expected of a hot chocolate. This is top-of-the-line hot chocolate, the exact kind of drink that made me realize everything that was wrong with hot cocoa from a packet. If you like hot chocolate, this absolutely cannot be missed.