Blog

  • A Visit to Photographer Charity Burggraaf's Studio in the Bemis Building

    Any of the photography you see in the main areas of our website is produced by the wonderfully talented, Charity Burggraaf. You can see more of her work on her website. Last week we had the opportunity to visit her new studio in the Bemis building, which is fortunately very close to the chocolate shop.

    The Bemis building has a rich history. Built in 1904 the factory was originally used to create burlap bags to serve the nation’s industries. Construction was typical of the time, using heavy timber post and beams with a brick exterior. By 1915 the factory could no longer keep up with demand and expanded to 115,000 square feet of available space.

    Since then the factory has served many different needs. Derelict and broken for a while, it underwent a massive renovation in 1995 to become a  live & work artist facility. Today it has beautiful wood floors, dramatic hallways to hang large pieces of art, and massive windows providing north facing sunlight, which Charity claims to be her favorite kind of light for taking photos.

    Charity, knowing us, provided some wonderfully fancy cookies and a jar of specialty jam she picked up at a market in Ballard. It was delicious, of course. And we did leaver her with a few cookies left.

     

    We highly recommend attending an art show at the Bemis. It’s four floors full of wonderfully interesting work and you’ll feel like you’re getting a dose of Seattle historical culture, as well.

    Thanks again for having us out, Charity!

  • Coffee and Chocolate Pairing with Caffe Vita


    In preparation for the Northwest Chocolate festival this past weekend, Aaron and I were fortunate enough to be paired with Caffe Vita for a coffee and chocolate pairing class. Cafe Vita is one of the most passionate-about-their-product companies we can  think of, and their coffee made for some fantastic pairings because of it.

    Prior to the festival Ross, Caffe Vita's lead trainer and coffee expert, met with us for about an hour to cup the coffees he wanted to feature and help us decide what pairings would be best at their cozy cafe / roastery / office up on Capital Hill. Ross took us through the main doors, past the barista counter, and into the back where we encountered this amazing, vintage industrial roaster.



    Not shown in the picture is how tall this piece of equipment is, maybe 30 feet with the air scrubbers. You can see the beans through the peephole, turning and flipping inside the roaster, and below the cast iron doors are the cooling racks for the batch just before it. It's truly a beautiful machine and maybe the most steampunk like contraption I've ever seen.

    After taking a few moments to admire the working roasting area, Ross led us upstairs to the office area, full of sculptures from around the world, young and hip staff making arrangements for travels across the seas to source beans, and small potted coffee trees on desks. Ross had prepared a selection of coffees for us to taste and a bit of information on each one, so we jumped right in.




    Caffe Vita sources from all over the world and you can learn more about their single origin coffees here: http://www.caffevita.com/coffee/single-origin. Ross selected three origin coffees: Kenya, Ethiopia, and one from Nicaragua.

    Kenya: Herbal aroma, like basil with some blackberry. The flavor was very savory.
    Ethiopia: Floral aroma, like jasmine or lemongrass. Had the flavor of a light ginger.
    Nicaragua: A wonderful aroma of cherry, cocoa, and apricot. The flavor had a wonderful almond and honey note to it. 

    Ross brewed up each batch using a pour over method while we waited eagerly for each one. Frankly, the pairing exploration, wines or teas or coffees, is one of the best perks to working with chocolate.




    The first up was the Ethiopia. With the wonderfully floral notes we were unsure what chocolate to try first, so we just all started at different places. There were some good pairings, but the best fit by far was the Bourbon an Vanilla Bean. The vanilla was just such a nice compliment to the delicate flavors and the bourbon made it a luscious experience.

    We then moved onto the Kenya, which may have been our most interesting pairing of the day. With such savory flavor notes to the coffee, the Basil chocolate quickly came to mind for all three of us. It was a match made in coffee & chocolate heaven. Ross flattered us by taking the pairing desk to desk and excitedly sharing with rest of the staff. Good thing we made plenty of samples for the festival.

    The Nicaragua was our last pairing. The coffee had a wonderful cocoa flavor which really presented well on the front of the tongue, leaving a lot of room for other flavors to pair well with it. We found two pairings that worked very well, both the Fortunato #4 (a peruvian origin chocolate), and the Ghost Chilli chocolate with some heat. In other pairings, both of these flavors struggled. Think of it like neither had enough personal space to be comfortable. But this coffee filled so many different areas of the pallet that the chocolate was able to really shine and compliment the coffee brew.



    Then it was off to the festival. Ross and Aaron gave a great presentation, thank you to all of those that made it to the early Sunday morning session!

    And a big special thanks to Caffe Vita for partnering with Intrigue. Thank you guys and gals! They were kind enough to send us away with some super-fly, black thread with green-brimmed hats (which we love). It's debatable who wears it best. Cheers!


  • 5 Flavor Tasting Experiences in Pioneer Square

    So, you’ve made it to Pioneer Square to visit us, or for a sporting event, or to tour the underground. Great! Are you aware of all the other amazing businesses and public spaces in the area?

    Too often people leave the Square because they are unsure what to do next. Of course, we recommend visiting our shop for a free truffle tasting, don’t miss out on that, but then likely you’ll ask us, “What do you recommend next”. We have a lot of recommendations, so we’ll tackle Pioneer Square’s goodness in multiple posts.

    Let's start with the flavor tasting experiences. This is different than lunch options, of which there are many and we will write about later. If you are starting from Intrigue Chocolate Co, it is likely that you are what we call a “flavor explorer”, those who enjoy experimentation and discovery of new ingredients, creative uses, and interesting flavors. Here are places we recommend in Pioneer Square that do tastings and/or just have really cool stuff to discover in the same theme.

    1) Sake Nomi

     

    Read their Yelp reviews

    A perfect place for beginners to learn sake, or for connoisseur to talk to an expert. The owner, Johnny, is knowledgeable and approachable. There is a $5 fee for tasting that goes toward a purchase if you choose. Sit at the bar. Watch some Japanese TV. Do not order a sake bomb.

    2) Dry Soda

    Think of Dry Soda like a wine bar meets a sparkling water fountain. This local NW company makes slightly sweet sodas in a full range of flavors like rhubarb, cucumber, vanilla bean, and blood orange. The tasting is free and the staff is friendly.

    3) E Smith Mercantile

    Part antique boutique, part apothecary, part cocktail bar, this little shop has it all. They specialize in the unique, like truffle honeys, mustache waxes, old fashioned candies. You won’t be disappointed with a quick stop. After 5pm they open their cocktail bar and we recommend trying some of the prohibition-era cocktails.

    4) Trabant Coffee

    Coffee is not hard to find in this city. It seems like every corner has a coffee shop and all of them serve a rare-single-origin bean of some kind. But there are a few coffee roasters and cafés we’d recommend has having something a little extra, and Trabant is one of them. Minimal décor, knowledgeable staff, and a clover machine really put the focus on the coffee. A cup can get a bit pricey, but for you coffee lovers it is well worth it.

    5) London Plane

    Avocado and albacore toast, freshly baked bread with fruit preserves, flower bouquets, all make this new space quite charming. This is a popular spot for locals to pick up fresh loaves of sourdough bread, kitchen wares, and something interesting for the dinner table.

  • Intrigue in the MOHAI Chocolate Exhibit

    It’s not always grey in Seattle, and today was one of those perfect Seattle days. What a great opportunity to visit the new chocolate exhibit at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI).

     

    You could spend the whole day wandering the different exhibits at MOHAI. Their new space at the southern tip of Lake Union is stunningly beautiful.

    But the exhibit we’re looking for today is this one.

    Upon entering the doors we were greeted by a strong aroma of chocolate and the sounds of the rain forest. A few young children commented on the piped-in aroma of chocolate and with the sounds of the rainforest it certainly set the stage.

    Cacao trees are rather amazing trees. Originally from South America they’ve been imported to Africa, specifically the Ivory Coast, where most of the world’s cacao is now grown. The exhibit opens by honoring the tree and its complex ecosystems. Notice the pods grow out of the trunks of the trees above?

    Then the exhibit tells the story of cacao’s gradually increasing importance to civilization, from the Mayan royalty but also enjoyed by the poor, to Spain where they started to add sugar, and then it’s place as a status symbol across Europe where it was combined with wine, eggs, and even bread.

    Of particular interest was all the different pottery and fine china that developed around the culture of serving chocolate. Below on the left you can see what the Mayan Kings would drink from, and on the right is a tool that was used to give the cacao drink some froth.

    There was another revolution of chocolate from 1850 to the early 1900s when chocolate became more accessible to all socioeconomic classes. In 1875 Daniel Peter and Henri Nestle crafted milk chocolate and changed the chocolate economy forever. Recognize any of these brands?

    Marketing really took hold.

    Now we have a global chocolate economy. It has its benefits, and it has its problems. Specifically, the farmers that grow the cacao may never actually taste chocolate. That’s an amazing thought. I’ll save the rest of the exhibit for you to go see.

    But really cool is that we are included at the end as one of Seattle’s Artisan Chocolatiers, along with Fran's, Theo, Seattle Chocolate, and Dilettante. Talk about flattering company!

    If you get the opportunity, go check out the exhibit. You might even get to see some ducks and geese like this little guy.

  • 11 Ways to Reuse Intrigue Chocolate Packaging

    Everyone likes the concept of clever ideas for reusing what would normally be thrown into the garbage or recycled, but sometimes actually taking a step to reuse an item can be troublesome. If inspiration is your obstacle, maybe these 11 ways to reuse our packaging can help you drum up some ideas.

    Many of these suggestions were sent to us from customers that are reusing our packaging. We asked for submissions as a contest to win one pair of the five sunglasses from Rivet & Sway. First place gets first pick, second place second pick, and so on. Since we had 6 people submit entries, 6th place will receive a $10 online shopping cart credit as consolation.

    Our guest judge for this competition was Karen Neugebauer, chocolatier of Forte Chocolates. Thanks Karen!

     

    Reuse #1: Box insert as a bookmark

    Submitted by Charity Burggraaf, our 1st place winner, is the idea to use the box insert and ribbon as a bookmark. It’s functional and beautiful with just a touch of effort. Well done, Charity!

    Reuse #2: Thermal envelopes used as a phone protector

    Sarah Thomas needs to protect her phone from the hot Atlanta sun that beats down on her car while she visits clients at the jail. Thermal envelopes make a great temperature barrier, even if you’re just trying to keep something at room temperature! Nice work, Sarah, you’re our second place winner.

    Reuse #3: Chocolate box hide-away

    We’re not really sure what Stacy is up to, but we hope it’s at least a little bit no-good-for-nobody. She hides away a small bottle of liquor in her empty box. Nice work, Stacy, we like the way you think. You are our 3rd place winner.

    Reuse #4: A toy

    Is there anything more fun for a kid than a box? Agnes likes to make a cozy little bed for her toy pets with the empty box. Or maybe it is a boat that is a about to sail in the lake? Either way, well done, Agnes and Rita, you are our 4th place winners.

    Reuse #5: Cocoa tins as a vase

    Mary Beth likes to pick flowers out in Palm Springs and needs a way to display them. The cocoa tins make a great container for all sorts of items, including flowers! We think it looks great next to that sleek black cat sculpture, Mary Beth. Congratulations, you’re our 5th place winner.

    Reuse #6: Thermal envelop as a heavy duty traveling bag

    Some items need a bit more protection when traveling. We use the thermal envelop as a protection from temperature change, but it can also be a nice padding for more fragile items like makeup and other beautifying products when traveling. Good thinking, Shekinah! You are our runner up, so you will be receiving a $10 online chocolate shop credit.

    Reuse #7: Box base as a seedling start bed

    Also submitted by Charity is the idea to use the base as a seedling start bed. Although the box is not entirely compostable (we must use some glue to hold it together, and the paints are not soy based), it is a great way to get a few sprouts in motion.

    Reuse #8: Cold brew bottle as a vase

    Similar to Mary Beth’s idea, you can use the empty bottles of cold brew as a vase also.

    Reuse #9: Box lids as office supply or game organizers

    Flip those lids upside down for a little cubby holder for office supplies. Looks great and keeps you organized! Same goes for Nintendo game cartridges, courtesy of Vivian. Nice work Vivian! You are also a runner up and will receive a $10 online gift certificate.

    Reuse #10: Cocoa tins as spice containers

    Slap a piece of scotch tape over the face of the tin and fill it with whatever spice you want to keep handy when cooking. The lid is snug and creates an airtight barrier. We found it handy for dried onion flakes, chili powder, and garlic flakes.

    Reuse #11: Reuse the paper bags as envelopes

    It’s an easy craft project to turn the paper bag into an envelope. If you have little ones, we recommend this! You can find a quick tutorial here on how to make an envelope.

     

    We still want to see your clever idea for packaging reuse! Send them to us @intriguechocola on twitter, or on our Facebook page.

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