So, not to brag or anything, but we totally got to visit a chocolate factory!! Like, a real factory where chocolate is made! How exciting is that? We think VERY.
We just started carrying the raw chocolate line Fine and Raw earlier this season, and are just a little obsessed with every aspect of the company-- from their flavor profiles to their packaging to the little coffee shop in the entrance to the factory where they produce. They are located in Bushwick, Brooklyn, which is a close neighbor to us. Basically, we had no excuse to not ask for a tour of the place to see how they are doing this whole raw chocolate business.
To get the inside scoop, we met up with founder/owner Daniel Sklaar to taste some delicious chocolate treats and explore his chocolate wonderland. The first thing most people ask is, "What is raw chocolate?". In order for an item to constitute as raw, the chocolate cannot be heated over a certain temperature (usually around 150 degrees) to retain the nutrients of the cocoa. He has a pastry machine that he uses to crush the cocoa nibs into a fine powder, and then "Chris" the CocoaTown machine allows the cocoa to breathe (like wine) for 48 hours. Some vanilla, a little sugar, and a few other ingredients are added at this point as well. Jess, the production manager, runs the kitchen like a well-oiled machine. The chocolate is poured, chilled, and packaged by hand after it has set completely.
After we toured the factory, Daniel took us back out front to the coffee shop to taste some of his concoctions in final, finished form. We tried chocolate bonbons, truffles, chunkys, and bars. We even got to try chocolate in liquid form-- but not "hot chocolate," though they serve that too. We're talking a hot, thick, creamy chocolate mixture served out of a crock pot. Like fondue, it's great for dipping things. But to be honest, we were licking it off of little wooden spoons and were completely content with that.
We asked Daniel quite a few questions throughout our visit, but we'll consolidate it here to a few key points:
Funkiest flavor profile? White Candy (it's chocolate!!)
What brought on the cowgirl packaging? I like Americana culture a lot, and artists and friends in Williamsburg were into it at the time, so it seemed fitting.
Experimenting on any new bars? Burnt Chocolate
Hot sauce or hot fudge: Hot Fudge
Most disappointing candy bar/Company: Hershey's
Theme song to your life? A DJ Curated set. Can't just be one song.
Best NY Slice? I don't eat slices, I feel like it's cheating. Roberta's for a pie.
Alternate profession? Photographer
Knicks or Nets? I beg your pardon?
Fine and Raw is located at 288 Seigel Street, Brooklyn, NY 11206 and are open Monday-Friday 10am-6pm and Saturday 12pm-6pm. Closed Sunday.
For all the updates, follow them on instagram! @fineandraw