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By Sharan Street
Published Feb 12, 2024

John Kelly Chocolates, based in Los Angeles, expanded its color palette to include ruby cacao, a new chocolate variety created by European chocolatier Barry Callebaut in 2017. John Kelly Chocolates, based in Los Angeles, expanded its color palette to include ruby cacao, a new chocolate variety created by European chocolatier Barry Callebaut in 2017. Image credit: John Kelly Chocolates

State of (Chocolate) Nirvana

For a baby boomer growing up in Southern California, a box of See’s Candies was meant to be savored. Unlike mass-produced candy bars, these chocolates required a special occasion. So it was disconcerting when a colleague from the Midwest wrinkled her nose at See’s, eschewing its nuts and chews for Daffin’s milk chocolate, a tradition in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

We would argue that for those who love dark chocolate, California rules. In a 2022 article titled “The Best Snack in Every State,” Food & Wine writer David Landsel asserted, “no place in America carries the humble cacao bean to greatness quite so ably as the Golden State. From everyday treats to the darkest single origins best nibbled by the shard with a glass of full-bodied red (local, of course), California has achieved chocolate nirvana.”


The Darker Side of Chocolate

It’s not just taste that sets our chocolate apart. It’s also the prevalence of “bean to bar” producers. Like so many raw materials in world history, cacao beans have been extracted cheaply from poor countries and processed into a commodity that profits wealthy ones. In the last couple of decades, a new generation of bean-to-bar chocolatiers began buying directly from farms that grow organic, sustainably produced cacao, and processing the beans themselves.

California has a plethora of chocolatiers who make traditional European-style bonbons, as well as those who craft rough-hewn bars from raw chocolate. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’ve assembled a travel guide to California chocolate, from Eureka to San Diego.


Beans, Bars and Bonbons: A Guide to California Chocolate

From its factory on the San Francisco Peninsula, Guittard makes chocolates that are used by professional pastry chefs and confectioners, including See’s Candies.
From giant companies with roots in the Gold Rush days to local microproducers with a focus on fair trade, California is ground zero for high-end chocolate.

History Channels

While we’re on the subject of California history—one of our favorite topics at California Local—here are a couple of quick reads. One is an evergreen story published by the Sacramento Observer a couple years ago about Sacramento’s African American historic landmarks. This registry of dozens of local sites, from churches to schools to civil rights organizations, was put together by Sacramento Girl Scout Maya Lee.

The other is a story just published this week that offers guidance on where to learn more about the history of Yolo County. We’ve published similar articles about other counties in our network, and here are the links where you can find those pieces: El Dorado County, Monterey County, Placer County, Sacramento County, San Benito County, Santa Clara County and Santa Cruz County.


Harvesting Information

The Woodland Opera House—George M. Cohan played there, as did John Philip Sousa.
Want to learn more about Yolo County’s history? Here are some good places to visit and sites to browse.

Landmarks of Black History

The Sacramento Observer broadcasts the Black community’s cultural heritage with its guide to landmarks.
Where is Sacramento’s Black Wall Street? Which park was named after LeVar Burton? Find out on SacObserver.com.


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Monterey County Weekly logo Endorsements for the March 5 Primary Election Are Out. Whether or Not You Agree, Please Vote.

Also find a basic rundown of how and when to vote up at the top of Monterey County Weekly’s cover story this week.

Salinas Valley Tribune logo Greenfield High School Cadets Learn Basic Survival Skills in the Wilderness

The 246th Battalion of the California Cadet Corps of Greenfield High School had 15 cadets attend the Winter Wilderness Skills Course to earn their Specialized Training Ribbon.

Salinas Valley Tribune logo Monterey County Announces Important Dates for Presidential Primary Election

Monterey County local voter information guides and ballots will begin mailing soon for the March 5 election. State voter information guides will also begin mailing directly from the state.

King City Rustler logo King City Boxer Wins National Boxing Title

Boxer Andre Mosqueda won the 95-pound championship at the 2024 National Silver Gloves Boxing Championships in Missouri.

Monterey County Weekly logo Carmel Art Scene Hit By at Gallery Closures

Five galleries have closed in Carmel, the Central Coast’s mecca for visual arts, in the past two months.

Monterey County Weekly logo South County Cities Seek Private Donors for Two Community Centers

A community center can bring people of different ages together and give them a sense of belonging. It’s also a venue for people to learn new skills.

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Sticker shock is how best to describe what the residents of the Mountain Shadows Townhomes in Monterey felt last month during a scramble to find property insurance, after Farmers Insurance declined to renew their policy.

Salinas Valley Tribune logo Chicana Author Becomes Monterey County’s New Poet Laureate

Rachelle Escamilla begins a two-year term to promote poetry throughout region.

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(02/12/2024) → CalMatters

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Environmental studies students have rolled out a campaign to gather support from faculty and students, and they believe they now have the research to support implementing a green roof on campus.

(02/12/2024) → The Lutrinae

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(02/12/2024) → Monterey Herald

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The Monterey Peninsula Unified School District has once again prevailed in its pursuit of completing a stadium renovation project at Monterey High School, according to the latest court ruling.x

(02/08/2024) → Monterey Herald

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(02/08/2024) → Monterey Herald

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Monterey County elected officials passed an ordinance cracking down on what the county determined is unreasonable noise, both with the level of sound and any accompanying fines for violating limits.

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Government Announcements

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Image of City of Monterey seal. City of Monterey   (02/12/2024)

2024 State of the City Address, Thursday, February 15

Image of United States seal. United States   (02/11/2024)

Rizo-López Foods and Fresh Creations Foods, Along with the FDA, Have Issued a Recall of All Chicken Street Taco Meal Kit Units Due to the Potential Contamination of Listeria Monocytogenes

Rizo-Lopez Foods and Fresh Creations Foods, along with the FDA, have issued a recall of all Chicken Street Taco Meal Kit Units due to the potential contamination of Listeria monocytogenes. The select meals and kits include crema cup which contain a recalled cheese ingredient. Product was sold in Spr
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/09/2024)

The Perfect Bite Co. Issues Voluntary Recall of Mexican Style Street Corn Bite Containing Cotija Cheese Due to Possible Listeria Monocytogenes Contamination

The Perfect Bite Co. of 747 W. Wilson Ave, Glendale, CA, is voluntarily recalling its MEXICAN STYLE STREET CORN BITE, which contains Cotija Cheese, due to the possible presence of Listeria Monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or e
Image of City of Seaside seal. City of Seaside   (02/09/2024)

Community Meeting/Reuion de la Comunidad

Information on AB 481//Informacion sobre AB 481
Image of City of Greenfield seal. City of Greenfield   (02/09/2024)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Image of United States seal. United States   (02/09/2024)

Fresh & Ready Foods Voluntarily Recalls Four Torta Sandwiches Containing Cotija Cheese Distributed in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah Due to Possible Listeria Monocytogenes Contamination

Fresh & Ready Foods is voluntarily recalling four torta sandwiches that contain cotija cheese which were sold in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah. This voluntary recall is being initiated as a result of the Rizo-Lopez Foods, Inc. recall of cotija cheese due to possible contamination with Lister
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/09/2024)

Braga Fresh Issues Voluntary Recall of Marketside Bacon Ranch Crunch Chopped Salad Kit Due to Containing Potential Cross-Contaminated Cheese Linked to Rizo Lopez Foods, Inc.

Braga Fresh is voluntarily recalling a limited quanty of Marketside Bacon Ranch Crunch Chopped Salad Kits containing recalled cheese that contains Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with wea
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/09/2024)

Taylor Fresh Foods Voluntarily Recalls Marketside Bacon Ranch Crunch Salad Kit Made with Ingredient Packets Containing Cheese as Part of the Expanded Recall from Rizo-López Foods, Inc.

Taylor Fresh Foods is voluntarily recalling Marketside Bacon Ranch Crunch Salad Kit made with ingredient packets containing cheese as part of the expanded recall from Rizo-Lopez Foods, Inc. due to potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/08/2024)

Stater Bros. Markets Recalls Chicken Street Taco Kit Because of Possible Health Risk

Stater Bros. Markets is voluntarily recalling 768 units of CHICKEN STREET TACO KIT with All Sell Thru dates up to and including Feb. 10, 2024, supplied by Fresh Creative Foods due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and somet
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/08/2024)

Save Mart, Lucky, and Lucky California Stores Recall Service Deli Chicken Street Taco Kit Because of Possible Health Risk

- The Save Mart Companies has recalled all lot and date codes of Chicken Street Taco Kits sold in Save Mart, Lucky, and Lucky California store service delis, as they include a cup of crema sauce containing cotija cheese produced and recalled by Rizo-Lopez Foods. These kits have been recalled due to