Say “Cheese, Please” at the 17th Annual California Artisan Cheese Festival
By VAL LARSON | February 15, 2023
Saturday, Mar. 25, will feature seminars and demonstrations at various wineries in the area. We are all familiar with the concept of pairing wine with cheese, but how about pairing cheese with chocolate? Last year at the Cheese Festival, I had the delightful experience of trying a nibble of VOLO Chocolates and it was, I can honestly declare, one of the best chocolates I’ve ever tasted.
can honestly declare, one of the best chocolates I’ve ever tasted.
VOLO Chocolates, owned and operated by Susan and Jeff Mall, are truly two of the best chocolate makers around, in all they do to produce their chocolates. Both are experienced chefs who understand the importance of presenting a quality product from the inside out. They understand how to coax out flavors that a large producer of chocolate would not want to bother with. They understand when to add salt to take away any bitterness and how adding just a touch of cinnamon can nudge the flavor over the top. Additionally, to make their chocolate even more sustainable, all their packaging is fully compostable. They understand that creating the best chocolate involves careful attention every step of the way, from fermenting to roasting, winnowing, refining and tempering. As wine and cheese are an art in the way they are brought to their final stage, so chocolate also is an unforgettable art form.
Working with Uncommon Cacao to find environmentally sustainable and fair paid worker locations, VOLO acquires their organic cocoa beans from Guatemala, Haiti and Madagascar. While large chocolate companies, after harvesting the beans, bring the beans back to their locations in the United States to focus on the shortest road to making the final chocolate product, Jeff and Susan make sure the beans are fermented on the site where they are picked to keep quality control in the uniformity of the harvested beans. The four-to-seven-day fermentation process begins to happen naturally as the pods are harvested, destroying the seed coat, killing the germ and eventually enhancing the flavor of the cocoa.