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.
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.
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.
Want to learn more about Yolo County’s history? Here are some good places to visit and sites to browse.
Landmarks of Black History
Where is Sacramento’s Black Wall Street? Which park was named after LeVar Burton? Find out on SacObserver.com.
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• Bill Package Takes Aim at AI and Elections
A suite of five bills introduced this weeks seeks to protect election integrity from bad actors using AI, especially on social media.
(02/12/2024) → CalMatters
• Candidates for Santa Cruz City Council Take Forum Stage
In Lookout’s last candidate forum before the March 5 primary election, Santa Cruz City Council candidates for Districts 1, 2, 3 and 5 discussed the city’s major issues including homelessness, the fate of West Cliff Drive and Measure M.
(02/09/2024) → Read the full Lookout Local report
• New Faces at Mentone
There’s a new face and ethos driving the wine program at Mentone these days. Wine director Emma Bavera has been here only a few months, but she’s already bringing many welcome additions to the wine experience.
(02/08/2024) → Edible Monterey Bay
• Feds Reserve $6M for Santa Cruz County Homeless Response
The latest round of federal homelessness response grant funds—at more than $6 million—is set to be distributed across Santa Cruz County to a handful of service providers this year.
(02/07/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel
• Otter Bay Canning Company Aims to Galvanize Tinned Fish
History has a way of repeating itself. Not this time around. On the docks of Moss Landing, history has a real chance of reinventing itself.
(02/06/2024) → Edible Monterey Bay
• Jim Phillips Documentary to be Screened at Santa Barbara Film Festival
"Art and Life: The Story of Jim Phillips," directed by John Edward Makens, tells the story of Jim Phillips, a graphic artist who has left his imprint throughout Santa Cruz and beyond.
(02/06/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel
• Cavalletta Opens This Week in Aptos
The custom wood-fired oven will be blasting out pizzas with the char, bubbles and caramelization only 800 degrees can bring. The Emiliomiti pasta extruder will be squeezing out strozzapreti, rigatoni and bucatini.
(02/05/2024) → Edible Monterey Bay
• New California Teaching Standards Increase Focus on Family Engagement, Social-Emotional Learning
The state is to implement long-awaited new guidelines in 2025 despite some calls for a year’s delay.
(02/12/2024) → EdSource
• How Much Can Your Rent Go Up in California? Check This Website
California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta announced consumer tools to help tenants and landlords understand how much rent can rise under a state law.
(02/07/2024) → Los Angeles Times
• 5 Major Candidates Want to be California’s New U.S. Senator
Here’s where they stand on the economy, crime and the border.
(02/07/2024) → CapPublicRadio
• UC Merced to Feature on ‘The College Tour’ Show
UC Merced will be highlighted on an Amazon Prime show that showcases universities around the world.
(02/07/2024) → San Joaquin Valley Sun
• The One Thing Reporters and Members Must Fight For
Journalism and democracy are undeniably intertwined. As the late media critic James Carey put it, “No journalism, no democracy; but, equally, no democracy, no journalism.”
(02/07/2024) → Moonshine Ink
• Strategic, Sustainable Residencies Can Help Solve the Teacher Shortage
If educator candidates are paid a living wage and receive plenty of support, they are more likely to remain in the profession.
(02/06/2024) → EdSource
• Can You Vote for Any Candidate in California’s Primary Election? Here Are the Rules
There are different rules for the presidential contest and state races on the March 5 ballot. And each party has its own rules.
(02/06/2024) → CalMatters
• If Done Correctly, Californians Can Save on Utility Bills by Creating Income-Based Charges
California’s utility regulators are exploring energy bill reforms that would structure charges based on household income. If done correctly, the change shift the cost for maintaining the grid to higher earners who can afford it.
(02/06/2024) → CalMatters
• Appeals Court Temporarily Reinstates Calif. Background Checks for Ammo Purchases
California’s law that requires background checks when purchasing ammunition is back in place.
(02/06/2024) → San Joaquin Valley Sun
• California State Parks Recommends $6.7 Million in Grants for Local Recreational Trails
California State Parks has recommended $6.7 million for seven local nonmotorized trail projects in various cities, including Galt and Gilroy.
(02/06/2024) → YubaNet
• Mike McGuire Wants to ‘Lift Up Every Person’ as New California Senate Leader
Sen. Mike McGuire of Healdsburg takes over as Democratic leader in the state Senate from Sen. Toni Atkins. He terms out in 2026, so has limited time to push his agenda.
(02/05/2024) → CalMatters
• Is Housing Health Care? State Medicaid Programs Increasingly Say ‘Yes’
States are plowing billions of dollars into a high-stakes health care experiment that’s exploding around the country: using scarce public health insurance money to provide housing for the poorest and sickest Americans.
(02/05/2024) → California Healthline
• The Terrifying Forces That Created a California Monster Storm
The storm fed off of unusually warm waters as it grew. It also reached “bomb cyclone” status as it neared California.
(02/05/2024) → Los Angeles Times
• Darrell Steinberg: Return of State Workers Helps, But Sacramento’s Transformation is Well Underway
Downtown Sacramento faces many challenges, but the growing number of small businesses, hotels, homes and other major developments signal its transformation, says the city’s mayor.
(02/05/2024) → CalMatters
• Despite Disbanding in 1995, Grateful Dead Make Billboard History
The Grateful Dead have broken the record for the most Top 40 albums to chart on the Billboard 200.
(02/05/2024) → Daily Democrat
• Some Experts Are Proposing a Category 6 Storm Rating
A handful of super powerful tropical storms in the last decade and the prospect of more to come has a couple of experts proposing a new category of whopper hurricanes: Category 6.
(02/05/2024) → Daily Democrat