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A Green Valentine’s Day: Food, Wine & Chocolate

Posted by on Feb 3, 2015 in Food & Recipes, Lifestyle | 0 comments

Greening a holiday usually takes a little extra planning, so let me help you out this Valentine’s Day! Last weekend my boyfriend, George, and our friends, Adam and Allison, tried green versions of Valentine’s Day staples: food, chocolate, and wine.

Low Impact Dinner: Pad Thai From Thug Kitchen

We started the evening off with pad thai, straight from the Thug Kitchen cookbook. The cookbook is vegan, although the Thug Kitchen blog, which I’ve been a fan of for years, is not strictly vegetarian or vegan. Neither my friends or I restrict our diets, but using a recipe with no or few animal products is a good idea if you are trying to make a meal with a low environmental impact. Just make sure you buy organic tofu for the pad thai because soybeans are one of the most common genetically modified (GMO) foods. GMO foods are usually sprayed heavily with pesticides and that negates the low impact advantage of a vegan/vegetarian meal.

Thug Kitchen Pad Thai

We ate our pad thai with reusable chopsticks, cloth napkins and a glass of organic 2012 Pacific Rim Riesling, $14.99 at Pennsylvania Wine & Spirits stores (only $2 more than the non-organic version.) Neither me or any of my friends are professional wine tasters but we’re going to share our tasting notes with you. Take ’em for what they’re worth!

For your viewing pleasure, below is a photo of Allison’s pictorial tasting notes. 

Allison Hoge's Wine Tasting Notes

We all enjoyed the Pacific Rim Riesling. Adam and Allison thought the wine smelled like cinnamon or a freshly baked apple pie. George and I smelled minerals, like a mountain spring. We all agreed the wine first tastes bright, tart and citrusy and follows with a sweet, clean finish. This wine paired perfectly with the pad thai and I would definitely buy it again.

Taza Chocolate: An Ethical, Organic Chocolate

There are several labels chocolate companies use to inform you of their practices. For me, the most egregious companies buy cocoa from plantations who use child slaves, and in an effort to figure out how to purchase ethical chocolate I researched labels and companies. See my post from last year for more information on labeling.

A package of Taza chocolate got my attention a few weeks ago when I was browsing the food isles in Marshall’s. I had never heard of Taza chocolate, but it caught my eye because the package carried the USDA Organic, Direct Trade, and Non-GMO Project labels, and it’s handmade in Somerville, MA. I bought the Chocolate Mexicano Sampler with 8 flavors for $14.99, but it normally retails for $21.00.

Taza chocolate is ground using authentic Oaxacan stone mills called molinos, which leave tiny bits of the cocoa beans and organic cane sugar in the chocolate. This gives the chocolate a bold flavor and texture I didn’t expect, having never even heard of stone ground chocolate before.

The sampler contained a wide variety of flavors from sweet to spicy to bitter. We were all a little surprised by the flavor profiles of the chocolate, and I have to admit that I didn’t think I would enjoy all the flavors as much as I did.

Taza Chocolate Discs

You may notice there are only 7 chocolate discs pictured, from the 8 flavor sampler I bought. Cinnamon is one of my most favorite spices, so the cinnamon disc was gone long before I planned this evening. It was good!

  • Cacao Puro: Traditional chocolate. The grainy texture made Adam think of hot cocoa powder.
  • Salted Almond: Sweet and warm, almost like toffee. This was a favorite for all of us.
  • Vanilla: Subtly sweet. Reminiscent of a waffle cone.
  • Cinnamon: Loved how the bits of organic cane sugar textured the chocolate and added a pure sweet flavor that complimented the cinnamon so well.
  • Coffee: Strong coffee flavor. Slightly bitter.
  • Super Dark: Smooth and bitter. Perfect for dark chocolate lovers and it would be a great for cooking with.
  • Chipotle Chili: Medium spice level. The burn hits you in the back of the throat.
  • Guajillo Chili: Very spicy. Hits you in the mouth and nose. I didn’t think I would like this one at all, but the chocolate and the chili are well balanced. Not an experience everyone would enjoy, but I recommend trying it.

More Organic Wine

With the chocolate we drank an 2013 Orleans Hill Zinfandel and a 2013 Natura Carmenere made from organic grapes. The zinfandel was not memorable. It has a weak nose, is just barely oaked and spiced, and slightly dry. It’s a wine you could drink with or without food, but serve it at the end of the evening when your guests aren’t being too picky. Priced under $10 it’s inexpensive, but personally, I don’t plan on buying it again.

The 2013 Natura Carmenere is bold in every way. The wine is rich, dark red. It has a “bitey” nose and our tasting notes describe the tastes as dry, bitter, warm, smokey, and wet rocks. This wine is not like any other I’ve ever tried and the group was split 50/50 on whether we’d drink it again. If you and you’re Valentine enjoy strong, flavorful reds this bottle might be for you. Instead of pairing it with desert though, I drink it with a main course of earthy foods like grass-fed beef, braised kale, and fingerling potatoes.
Wine, chocolate and cookbook

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I hope you found these tip and reviews helpful. If you have any tips of your own for greening Valentine’s Day, please share them in the comments below.

Nicole knows making small changes for the greener add up over time and hopes you’re inspired to make some changes of your own after reading her articles. She focuses on easy, green, homemade personal products and green living tips for city dwellers. Nicole lives in Pittsburgh, PA and you can find her on twitter at @_nlg_.

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