San Francisco, Brooklyn, and Portland are all places that come to mind when I start thinking about makers of bean to bar chocolate. Little Rock, Arkansa though? I can’t say it even crossed my radar, until I found Izard Chocolate, that is.
Nathaniel Izard founded Izard Chocolate in 2014. At the time it was the first chocolate company, of any sort, ever, in Little Rock. He’s set the bar high for anyone who wants to follow. His lineup of single origin and flavoured bars are stellar, and I was fortunate enough to get to review a selection of them right before Christmas of all festive times.
I tried bars from the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Belize, as well as a flavoured Icelandic Sea Salt bar.
Forget leaving the best for last, let’s start with it right off the bat. Now that’s not to say that all of the bars weren’t amazing, but the Dominican one was just so unique I fell in love with it immediately. Imagine a blueberry pie-flavoured chocolate bar and that’s what you get with this one. Vanilla bean is one of the ingredients and it does wonders to accentuate the characteristics of the dark berry flavoured Dominican cacao. You wind up with notes of baked goods and actually have to remind yourself that you’re eating dark chocolate. Two thumbs up.
The tasting notes on the Haitian bar describe it as, “tasting like you’re eating a brownie without actually eating a brownie.” It’s a pretty apt descriptor. This bar is pure cocoa and fudge. As it lingers in your mouth, it is nostalgically reminiscent of Tootsie Rolls. Very low acidity and not a much fruitiness with this one. It’s pure chocolate chocolate.
I’ve tried quite a few Maya Mountain cacao bars from Belize and this one is definitely up there. It was super smooth and melted gorgeously on the palate. Notes of raisin and dried cherries came through on the forefront, with a pleasant acidity on the back end. The Icelandic Sea Salt bar tasted quite similar (I neglected to snap a pic because I was too eager to get it into my mouth given my affinity for salted chocolate).
If any lessons were learned from my Izard Chocolate tasting, it’s that you don’t always have to go for the big guns if you’re looking for incredible chocolate. Some of the best bars are being made in places you’d never expect. Be thorough in your searching and you never know what you’ll find.
*As always the opinions here are my own and I thank Izard chocolate for graciously supplying the chocolate for tasting.