Thursday, April 12, 2012

Intrigue Chocolates + Zen Dog Tea: A Perfect Pair

At Zen Dog Tea House Gallery in Seattle’s Crown Hill neighborhood, a delicious event is happening the third Tuesday evening each month.  You’ve probably heard of chocolate and wine tastings, but chocolatier Aaron Barthel of local Intrigue Chocolates has teamed with tea master Zen Dog for tea and chocolate tastings.  

And oh are these pairings sensational!
Zen Dog already has a growing cadre of followers for his fine Chinese teas served gong-fu style and his monthly lunar music and art events, sponsored talks, and summer tea festival.  I anticipate a whole new wave of fans now.

While having tea at Zen Dog last week, ZD (Zen Dog for short, as he likes to be called) shared with us one of Intrigue Chocolate's Zen Dog Bark chocolate truffle bars created by Barthel using Zen Dog teas.  While I don't claim to be a fancy connoisseur, I've had enough high-quality chocolate across the U.S. and Europe to know an incredible chocolate when I taste it.

The intriguing mix of exquisite dark chocolate mixed with white pu-er  and lavendar teas teased then pleased my palate. While I let the intense, rich flavor of the chocolate melt on the tongue, I felt blissful and thrillingly alive.

A good chocolate can do that.

At the time ZD and tea master Steve Bonnell were tasting a darker pu-er tea, which was not a good combination with the chocolate. For the Zen Dog Bark, the two teas infused within the chocolate (Moonlight white and  lavendar) would pair nicely, but the Dian Hong red tea, according to ZD, "really nailed it and added depth to the flavors. That pairing is a  perfect marriage in the mouth."

I stopped by Intrigue Chocolate's tasting room in Pioneer Square a couple weeks ago to taste chocolates with Aaron Barthel.  He's a happy, jovial man who loves his chosen path in life--making artisan chocolate in the French tradition. His chocolate truffles are made from mostly local and fresh ingredients using premium chocolates. I ask if he went to school to learn his craft, assuming an advanced degree.

"I'm self taught," he says with a smile.  Aaron always seems to be smiling genuine, happy smiles.  A passion for his art shines through in his exquisite chocolates, which vary by flavor month to month. My favorite today was the Fortunato No. 4, made from a rare variety of recently rediscovered organic white cacao beans grown in a remote northern Peru valley.

When You Go
The next tea/chocolate event at Zen dog will be Tuesday, April 17 from 5 to 8 pm, with a small fee of $5. You can purchase the brick bar of truffled chocolates, which would be a perfect dessert or indulgent afternoon snack to share with a friend or lover, for $9. Or stop by Intrigue Chocolate's tasting room in Pioneer Square and taste the whole gamut of this months' flavors.


martha said...

Mom gave e some chocolate tea for either Christmas or birthday. It's wonderful. So I can understand this wonderful new pairing. And please, when i come for a visit can we go to one of these chocolate/tea events?
I promise a massage for you.

Anne said...

I love Mexico for many reasons but let's face it, perhaps chocolate has been their #1 contribution to the world! Lucky tea, to be able to enhance chocolate.

Jillian KyungJa Graham said...

Hey Jill, great article and photos! It was nice sharing the pairing experience with you at Zen Dog's. You're right, ZD's Bark is scrumptious- smooth, rich, light and like nothing I've tasted before. I look forward to seeing you again!

jill said...

Martha, sure! Let's go have tea!

Jillian, always great to sip tea together, yes, soon!

Anne, Ha, Lucky chocolate, too, to enhance the tea experience.

Patricia Lichen said...

Tea and chocolate?! Brilliant!
I'll share this post with my Seattle friends...then maybe they'll take me for a tasting next time I'm there.
Thanks for the info!