A visit with Zu of Riva Chocolate in Revelstoke BC ( and a few beer pairings too)

I always seek out craft chocolate and craft chocolate makers when I travel.

A few months ago I took a spring ski trip to Revelstoke BC.  After a quick search of local chocolate makers I found Riva Chocolate, a craft, bean to bar maker that I had never come across before.  Of course I was so curious and had to meet the maker, learn the story, and taste the chocolate.

Zu and I at RIVA Chocolate in Revelstoke BC

Zu, the sweet and humble owner of this one woman operation, is a delight.  She sparkles with enthusiasm for craft chocolate and expertly manages everything from a charming small workshop in a slightly industrial part of town next to an artisan pottery shop.  She keeps her bars simple with only two ingredients, cacao and sugar, except for the one dark milk chocolate bar.  Her packaging states "Handmade with passion...", so very true.  

Cacao storage at RIVA Chocolate Revelstoke BC

From the very first taste while chatting with her in her workshop I knew immediately that she had already mastered the chocolate making process. Each bar was delicious in it's own unique way eaving me wanting more with each taste.  

Zu works with several different origins applying sugar in different amounts to each origin to emphasize positive attributes in the cacao.  The texture of her chocolate is consistent across all bars with a beautiful smooth even melt.  The flavor notes in her bars pop, echoing her enthusiasm!  Each and every one is completely different essentially telling the story of craft chocolate with the memorable flavor notes from each origin. 

Display of bean to bar chocolate at Riva Chocolate, Revelstoke BC

At the end of the visit Zu didn't have every origin bar that we sampled in stock so she referred me to Mountain Goodness Natural Food store where she had sent the last supply of those missing bars.  Stopping in gave me the chance to meet Heather, another small business owner in Revelstoke. I found the bars I wanted to add to my stash plus a few other fun things.  It is wonderful to see small business owners working together.  I get the feeling that Revelstoke has that kind of vibe. 

Side note:  Pairing local chocolate with local beer is another favorite travel activity, especially when I see dark beer.  I paired local Mt Begbie beer with the local chocolate.  Notes from my pairing are along side the chocolate tasting notes below. 

Vietnam DakLak 80% 

Dark and rich.  Hearty earthy notes reminding me of fresh pipe tobacco.  Acidic notes of fresh mandarin or tangerine.  Pleasant finish with well rounded bitter notes that entice me to taste again. 

I paired the River Vietnam bar with Mt Begbie Cream Ale.  The tangerine or mandarin notes of the chocolate bar mixed with the light crisp beer come together like a creamscicle with a deep chocolate finish. 

Riva Chocolate Honduras bar paired with Mt Begbie Night in the Woods dark beer.

Honduras Copan 77%

Smoky notes first, followed by interesting creme fraiche notes, and finishes with woody notes that remind me of a summer forest evening.  Complex bar! 

Pairing with the Night in the Woods special release bar but Mt Begbie.  This beer is a dark luscious malty beer with notes of molasses and plum.  I chose the Honduras bar because the beer brought forward the earthy/wood notes of the bar and the bar helped to emphasize and temper the darker complex, yet sweet molasses notes of the beer.  A delicious combination!

Riva Chocolate Mexico origin bar with Mt Begbie Roasted Marshmallow Stout

Mexico Tabasco 72%

So funny, the first taste of this bar somehow reminds me of the smell of roasting corn tortillas.  It is just a brief flash of a flavor then the bar moves into a fruity yet not sweet note of fruit cocktail (the kind I had as a child).  A mix of canned pears, peaches, and a bit of cherry.  There is a satisfying fruity sweetness well balanced with acidity on the finish that lasts for quite some time. 

I paired the Mexico bar with Mt beige Fire Roasted Marshmallow beer.  The dark chocolate complimented the sweet notes of the beer and at the same time toned the sweet notes of the beer to a lovely dessert experience. 

Nicaragua O'Tuma 70%

Just the aroma of this bar is so very true to origin.  It reminds me of black cocoa powder used in Oreo sandwich cookies.  The flavors burst with banana and cream notes with a solid backbone of loamy earthy notes.  Lovely finish.

This one I didn't pair with a Mt Begbie beer because I didn't open it until returning home so tonight I'm pairing with a sip of Sierra Nevada Hop Bullet Double IPA.  It actually goes pretty will with the hop aspects of the Hop Bullet, the acidity of the beer is actually a little overpowering for the bar.  An ok pairing, I'd like to try again with a different beer. 

Riva Chocolate Peru Ucayali River with Mt Begbie Brave Liver Scotch Ale

Peru Ucayali River 70%

Sour and savory spice are the notes that jump out first with herbal and cedar notes that sneak in as the melt continues.  It starts bright and spicy and finishes fruity for me with a cedar note on the finish.

Paired with the Mt Begbie Scotch Ale the chocolate brought out the fruit notes in the beer completely changing the beer experience. 

Thailand Chanthaburi 75%

Unique notes that somehow remind me of Thai chili peppers and Thai Green Papaya salad at first note. This bar goes from sweet to spicy and back again as the melt continues.  Sharp fruity acidic notes along with sweet/sour notes, all bouncing around in my mouth backed by a pleasing dark bitter note as the chocolate melts.  Interesting and again enticing another bite to figure out what just happened in my mouth.  Quite the fun tasting journey. 

Sorry, no beer pairing to note for this bar.  The tasting journey alone is enough!  If I were to try a pairing I think this one would be lovely with a black tea. 

Riva Chocolate Milk Chocolate Thai origin bar with Mt Begbie Revelstoke Dark Lager

Milk Chocolate bar made with Thai Cacao 55%

Intense caramel and baking spice notes with a super smooth and slightly slow melt make this bar stand out.  Seriously, the intensity of flavor in this milk bar!  I've got to say that this is probably one of the best milk bars I've had. 

Pairing this bar with a Dark Lager by Mt Begbie I found that the intense carmelly notes cut the bitter coffee notes of the beer making the beer much more appealing to me (since I'm not a regular coffee drinker).    

In the Riva Chocolate factory, Revelstoke BC.

Find Riva Chocolate at www.rivachocolate.ca


Popular Posts