Chocoholic’s choice

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Just back from nibbling my way through the first Mid-Coast Maine Wine and Cheese Festival, held at two Rockport locations, Cellardoor Winery’s retail shop and the State of Maine Cheese Co. Plenty of food fun, including tastings of cheeses, wines, chocolates, jams, sausages, smoked seafood products, and more.

I dutifully toured my way through all the vendors, but my faves (no surprise, here), were chocolate related. I’m a huge fan of Safe Harbor Confections, a Waldoboro chocolatier that dedicates a percentage of income, donated in product or cash, to animal-related causes. I love their salt caramels, and the raspberry truffles. And… mmmmm.

For truffle perfection, Dean’s Sweets wins for its stout truffle. Oh my! The bitterness of the stout (beer) brings out the bitterness of the chocolate, without being, well bitter. No sharp edge, just that sublime taste of dark chocolate with depth. Now, the tequila lime, the needhams (made with Cold River Vodka instead of mashed potates), the scotch, the cayene, and the ginger, and… well, let’s just say I spent a bit of time here immersed in quality control. Portland-based Dean’s only uses dark chocolate, and it doesn’t use nuts. The truffles are available at Rosemont Market, in Portland and Yarmouth, from the house by appointment, or via the internet.

Now I previously knew about Safe Harbor and Dean’s, but South Portland-based Nutmeg Foods new Coastline Chocolates were new to me, but one taste (then another, and, okay, another) of the Rivermill salted dark chocolate bar, and I’m a convert. I’ve always been a fan of the marriage of dark chocolate and salt, but usually it comes via chocolate-covered popcorn or potato chips. This is simply a bar accented with Maine sea salt. Not that the other bars I tasted weren’t delicious, but this one was a standout. Nutmeg Foods also makes a line of truffles, including one, Ned’s Red, sold only at the Cellardoor Winery.

Quite the delicious afternoon. Now, must exercise.