Sunday, November 14, 2010

Biagio Sample Day: Finding New Chocolates to Enjoy

Before yesterday, I’d never managed to wander past Biagio Fine Chocolates, which is just south of Adams Morgan, during business hours. A true tragedy, given my love of fine chocolate. But after I became aware of their sample day scheduled for yesterday afternoon, I was sure to make room in my calendar to check out the sample day and the shop itself.

When you go visit Biagio, it is important to have their address, because it’s a basement-level shop that you could easily walk right past. And that would be sad. So the address: 1904 18th St. NW. Commit it to memory. And look for this sign.

Once you make it in there, you’ll find walls filled with displays filled with the best chocolates from around the country and the world.

They carry a lot of the big name chocolatiers, like Valrhona and E. Guittard, truffles from local shops like Artisan Confections, and quickly emerging chocolatiers like Taza and Rogue. Their sample day featured a mixture of milk and dark bars from several chocolatiers, as well as a photography exhibit with a chocolate theme.

There were about 15 different chocolates available for sampling; fortunately, the sample bits were small, allowing my friend and I to sample each. Here are a few of our takes on the chocolate samples:

  • Valrhona Tanavrina, a milk chocolate with 33% cocoa solids, featured a strong caramel flavor and was my friend’s favorite.
  • Divine Chocolate Spiced Cookie, another milk chocolate with 33% cocoa solids, had crispy bits of spice cookies mixed in. The spice cookie bits contrasted the sweet, creamy chocolate nicely, and this was by far my favorite milk chocolate from the sample day.
  • Rogue Chocolate Sambirano, a 70% cocoa bittersweet chocolate from a chocolatier in Minneapolis, features single-origin chocolate from Madagascar that is derived from Venezuelan stock. This chocolate was very smooth, and had a lingering flavor and only a tiny bit of added sweetness.
  • Askinosie Teneende Tanzania, another single-origin bittersweet bar, had 72% cocoa solids and a very smooth melt with a complex flavor.
  • Potomac Chocolate Upala, which is not only made entirely from Costa Rican beans, but is made nearby in Woodbridge, VA. The chocolatiers, Justin and Ben, were there to talk about their 70% cocoa chocolate, which offered an earthy flavor with a coffee undertone that lingered.

Justin and Ben are quite enthusiastic, and I’m hoping that they are soon able to offer baking chocolate, as I would love to make creations centered around locally-made chocolate. Though the chocolate was just a tad dry and may not work well as couverture for truffles, but I believe it could make a good ganache and might work well in some scone or shortbread recipes.

To investigate, I picked up three of their bars.

I also picked up a bar of the Divine Chocolate Spiced Cookie, and two of the Vosges holiday edition bars that I’d been salivating over via the internet for well over a month. Biagio, of course, carried many more chocolates that I wanted to purchase immediately, but I’ll have to save that for my next trip there.


  1. I need to take a field trip to check it out!

  2. They do sample days about once a month. I think we should go together.

  3. Love the store, they have such a great the staff, they are so helpful and friendly and Biagio is the best! I love to give their chocolates as thank you gifts.

  4. Jeff, I love Biagio, too. It's so great that I discovered I now have access to very-hard-to-find chocolates right here in DC. Have you checked out Cacao yet? They have tons of baked goods, too. The macarons are the best.