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August 2017 Chocolate

For the Love of Chocolate

Nothing sounds more inviting than a chocolate party. In the 1970s, this is how David Gambill, owner of Sebastopol's Sonoma Chocolatiers, shared his passion for making chocolate with his coworkers and friends. "Every Christmas, I'd make truffles using techniques I learned from chocolate books. Since the beginning, people would tell me I should be selling them. That thought stuck with me," he says.

When Gamblli and his wife, Susan, adopted their son in 2005, they were living in Washingon, D.C. "We knew we didn't want to raise him in the D.C. public school system," says Gambill. "So we moved back to Santa Rosa in 2007. We went on a trip to France, and fell in love with a teahouse that offered chocolates [Susan is a tea aficionado.] In 2008, Sebastopol's only chocolate shop folded, and we took advantage of that and moved in to make our own chocolate and tea business."

Today, Sonoma Chocolatiers produces more than 70 truffle flavors, 30 different caramels and serves more than 100 different organic teas, and simple pastries (their gluten-free muffins are renowned). "What we make here is the culmination of many, many years of study and experimentation," says Gambill. "And we don't make sugar pills. There is no added sugar in the truffles; even our caramels are less sweet than most. When I taste, I want the first and last flavors to be deep chocolate."

Sonoma Chocolatiers was created out of love: a love of chocolate; of tea; of family and of a place to raise their children. Each chocolate, baked treat and beverage served is made with passion and care. Every visit to Sonoma Chocolatiers is a chocolate party.

The Sweet Side of Antioxidants

Antioxidants are often found in the less decadent of foods such as teas, vegetables, nuts and berries. However, a standout member of the antioxidant superfood family is making health-conscious eating something to look forward to¬¬¬—dark chocolate.

Containing 70 percent cacao or more, dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants. Cacao is responsible for the unique flavor of chocolate, but when mixed with sugar and milk, becomes less beneficial for health. The little bean contains flavonoids, polyphenols and theobromine, all natural chemicals contributing to the powerful disease-fighting effects of cacao.

Flavonoids, a plant based chemical, exist naturally in cocoa. Flavonoids have been linked to sun protection, higher intelligence as well as prevention of diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay. The compounds in flavonoids are also credited to increasing flexibility of veins and arteries, lowering blood pressure and essentially reducing the risk of heart attack.  Flavonoids also increase nitric oxide production, controlling insulin sensitivity, which helps prevent diabetes.

That's A Lot of Beans!

In May 2017, the International Cocoa Organization reported annual world cocoa bean production increased 18.1 percent (up to nearly 4.7 million tons) compared to last year to counter a supply deficit. Talk about a big mug of hot cocoa!

Did You Know?

The chemical theobromine has been used medically to treat conditions since the early 1900s. Found in dark chocolate, this chemical compound relieves coughs similarly to codeine. By suppressing the vagus nerve, theobromin prevents coughing as well as high blood pressure.


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