In my house growing up, chocolate was the antidote for everything. A headache? Eat some chocolate. Bad day at school? Go check out the candy box in the cupboard. Feeling dizzy? Mom stashes some good stuff two drawers down from the silverware. Chocolate could and did fix everything, except for maybe a stomach ache.
I still love the big candy companies I loved as a kid, and I will never say no to Junior Mints, Three Musketeers, Almond Joy, or Snickers. But, I must acknowledge that there are higher levels of chocolate confectionery out there, and not just my favorite, See’s.
Yes, there are many more levels of chocolate sophistication, and it just so happens that one lives right in my backyard here in Somerville: the Taza Chocolate factory. Once a friend found out they give tours, we were there.
Taza is a charming operation, even if their chocolate is too expensive for me to buy regularly. They make chocolate the old-fashioned Mesoamerican way, very simply and sustainably. The chocolate has a rustic feel to it; you can tell it hasn’t been overly processed. It’s completely different from the chocolate of my childhood, but also completely delicious!
Being in a chocolate factory inevitably brings to mind Willy Wonka or I Love Lucy, but Taza is like neither of these pop culture favorites. Stones from Mexico grind the beans and mix in the sugar. The machines are refurbished, antique behemoths, like this roaster:
The company is small; each chocolate disc is still hand-wrapped. No product has more than four ingredients. And the taste is AMAZING. The endless samples were, of course, the highlight of the experience.
My favorites were definitely the Guajillo Chile, Cinnamon, and Salt & Pepper (if anyone wants to get me a present).
Tyler wasn’t able to come with us on the tour (darn rugby schedule, it strikes again!), but as a food enthusiast in general and a chocolate lover in particular, he would LOVE it. We will definitely be back; I most certainly ate my $5 admission fee in free samples.