Last week, we gave ourselves the onerous assignment to sample chocolate around Bend. It is a tough job, but someone needs to do it.
David Kalov is a chocolate chemist.
The unassuming Bend d'Vine owner makes all of the shop's bold chocolates in house—as well as the other desserts—and does so without involving any of the cheap ingredients common to mass-produced chocolates, like, say, corn syrup. Also impressive, Kalov learned most of what he knows through experimentation, and through an online chocolatier class he completed nearly two years ago.
"No one could tell me what I could or couldn't do," Kalov said of his ability to create, free from the restrictions of convention.
His assorted bite-sized chocolate offerings—which are sold as sample platters and range in flavor from sea salt (most popular) and spicy to dark and light—prove that in-house treats are better. During a recent visit, we opted for the Sea Salt Deluxe ($9, five bite-sized chocolates), and while we found some of the chocolates slightly over salted, the subtle differences between the five pieces impressed our entire tasting panel. Some tasted smoky while others boasted a caramel character, which was no doubt accomplished by incorporating such exotic sea salts as Mayan, Hawaiian and Italian black truffle.
The ambiance of Bend d'Vine's cavernous space leaves something to be desired, but such issues may soon be addressed during the ongoing re-branding campaign. Additionally, the chocolate and wine bar will soon be called Chocolate Element, presumably as the business leans more to the chocolate side of its offerings. Stay tuned as more delicious details unfold.
Overall, sitting down at Bend d'Vine with a glass of Oregon pinot noir and an array of carefully made chocolates proved a pleasantly indulgent experience.
Hot tip! Stop in on Saturday and indulge for a good cause: Devine Equines, Chocolate and Wine, a benefit for Equine Outreach, a horse rescue and rehabilitation center. 6-10 pm, Saturday, Oct. 26. includes an art and wine raffle, delicious food and drink.
Bend d'Vine Chocolate Café & Wine Bar
916 NW Wall St.
Hours: Mon-Thurs 3-9 pm; Fri. 3-10 pm; Sat 2-10 pm; Sun 3-8 pm
A quaint breakfast and lunch stop off the beaten path, 2nd Street Eats feels like a well-kept secret. A place whispered about between friends and frequented only by those who know where to find it in the labyrinth of industrial zoning behind the Black Bear Diner off Highway 97. The café has been in business since 2011 serving homemade bagels, soups, salads and sandwiches. Even more undercover than the breakfast and lunch operations is the delicious selection of handmade chocolates, known as Tricia's True Confections.
Owners Tricia and Jeremy Pollard take pride in their chocolates being organic and fair trade. In fact, that's the first thing Tricia tells us about her truffles as she stands behind the glowing confectioners case that houses a dozen or so styles of handmade truffles. In May, the small business successfully funded an online Kickstarter campaign to purchase the case, upgrade from its small four-burner stove and develop packaging for its chocolate bars among other upgrades to the basic kitchen. In a month the Pollards raised $9,000, far beyond their $7,500 goal.
Tricia started making chocolates 16 years ago as a hobby. Her first endeavor was crafting buttercreams as Christmas gifts for friends and family, and in the years since her first messy attempt, she has honed her craft, now producing grade A uniform and balanced truffles.
We chose to mix and match a 6-piece box (costing a reasonable $8.50), hand selecting from the varying fillings and shells. Ranging from dark to milk the truffles average around 60 percent chocolate, giving them a slight bitter cocoa bite, but a smooth milky finish.
The outer chocolate shells were flaky and thin, a hard feat to accomplish when creating each identical piece by hand. The truffle fillings were velvety and rich in their respective concentrated flavors.
The most interesting of the bunch was the Dark Chocolate Ancho Chile Orange Cayenne that started off with sweet and light orange flavors, but about 10 seconds in, bit back with a delayed spicy surge. Dusted with cayenne powder, the spice was a pleasant surprise and didn't overwhelm the delicate citrus. The Dark Honey Caramel Fleur de Sel was another favorite, a well-balanced and lightly salted delicacy. Among others we sampled were the ginger truffle, spicy and bright, and the amaretto truffle, boozy and opulent.
The chocolates are not only available in-store, but are also conveniently online for ordering (TriciasTrueConfections.com) making indulgence just a click, and a UPS delivery away.
Tricia's True Confections at 2nd Street Eats
1289 NE 2nd St.
Hours: Mon-Fri 7 am-3 pm
"That's effed up good," remarked one of our potty-mouthed staffers.
The bakery creations at downtown La Magie are beautiful—and apparently you really can judge the taste of a baked good by its looks. The flourless chocolate cake had a clever undertow of cherry and amaretto; restrained on sweetness, the cake was a sturdy dessert. The quadruple chocolate cookie was also a winner. Not your grandma's chocolate chip cookie, the treat erred toward a slightly rough and delicious cocoa taste, not buttery smoothness. The only disappointment in the bunch was the Black Forest cupcake, which looked elegant, but like the prom queen was more dressing than delivery; not enough sultry chocolate, and a little too tart.
La Magie Bakery/Cafe
945 NW Bond
Hours: Mon-Sat 7:30 am–5 pm;
Sun 7:30 am–3:30 pm