Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sôcôla Chocolates Plus Giveaway!

Sôcôla Chocolates

Last month, I was introduced to Susan at the Chocolate Chronicle. Susan is one of the founders of Sôcôla Chocolates, the up-and-coming chocolatier based in Oakland. Just in the past six months, Sôcôla Chocolates has been conspicuously receiving more media attention: in KQED Bay Area Bites; The San Francisco Examiner; The Oakland Tribune; Diablo Magazine; The London Financial Times; and Thanh Nien – one of the Vietnamese National Newspaper to name a few.

After a brief meeting with Susan in San Francisco, I asked her if I could visit their kitchen in Oakland and watch them dip their hands into chocolate to how their creations are made. She responded immediately and I was in Oakland the next day.


Sôcôla Chocolates

Sôcôla is owned by the funny, young, and talented Vietnamese American sisters who grew up in Santa Rosa: Wendy Lieu and Susan Lieu. Wendy, the Sôcôla’s chief Chocolatier is a pastry school graduate, yet predominately a self-taught chocolatier. She has been enjoying cooking since she was nine. Being a first generation Vietnamese American, Wendy has always been excited about making American foods. She has no idea that one day, tasting gourmet chocolate truffles from See’s Candies would alter her perception of chocolate and forged links that eventually became Sôcôla Chocolates. Wendy searched for a recipe, started making them at home and soon she was a famous chocolate maker in their neighborhood.

Sôcôla Chocolates

Susan, the younger sister, is a Harvard graduate and former board member of the Santa Rosa farmers’ market. She assists Wendy in the kitchen and does most of the sales and publicity work. Susan was recently in Vietnam for nine months and taught farmers sustainable farming methods - how to grow cacao as part of her research project.

Sôcôla Chocolates

Considering how intimate Sôcôla’s operation is today, their contribution to the community is highly impressive. That alone is enough to inspire the utmost support from me. Most certainly then, it is not surprising to know that most the ingredients are from local suppliers – i.e., fresh fruits from farmers’ market, butter and cream from Straus Family Creamery. “Quality is a big ingredient and the best ingredient in our chocolate,” Susan said. They use absolutely no preservatives or additives and choose the best quality ingredients while keeping prices relatively reasonable.

Sôcôla Chocolates

The flavors of Sôcôla Chocolates come from all over the world, which is what makes them so special. They have incorporated eastern flavors such as guava, tamarind, green tea, jasmine tea, lychee and durian. Although I haven’t tasted them all as of yet, I did taste four signature line flavors which is half eastern, half western – Give It To Me Guava, Vietnamese Espresso, Guinness Beer, Burnt Baby Burnt.

Give It To Me Guava - sweet, tropical, fresh.
Vietnamese Espresso – perfect combination of coffee and chocolate, rich & creamy just like Ho Chi Min city street coffee.
Guinness Beer – bitter, robust, dark, masculine without the body odor.
Burnt Baby Burnt – bitter, smoky; rich and creamy with a touch of sweetness.


Sôcôla Chocolates

Their western flavors are not just ordinarily western. Each creation leaves a very unique impression wholly different from anything I’ve ever tasted. Because each chocolate has such a fun name, I would suggest visiting their website for each description. There is the W line which is Wendy’s premier line and they can also make customized chocolates to fit your needs.

Sôcôla Chocolates

Sôcôla’s mascot alpaca represents the sense of fun and energy that these two sisters embody. It also symbolizes their chocolate flavors as they all come from different parts of the world. Susan said “Alpaca is so high class that it’s almost untouchable.” “[We] try to bring the attitude of joy while maintaining quality.” High class perhaps, but still very accessible. Try the signature flavors and you’ll agree.

1. Sôcôla Chocolates was tremendously generous in offering me a box of chocolates to giveaway for my blog readers. If you would like to win this box, simply leave a comment on this post by September 26th (to be precise, by 11:59pm Pacific Time) - only available to US residents. Winners will be announced during the September 27th post, so please don’t forget to check back for the results!

2. If you become a fan of Sôcôla Chocolate on the facebook or follow them on twitter, you can find out their next free samples or events near you.

3. Sôcôla Chocolates can be purchased at Alameda Natural Grocery Store (Alameda), Bi-Rite Market (Misson, San Francisco), Whole Foods SoMa (San Francisco), Daily Delectables (Oakland), Pasta Shop - seasonally, from November (4th Street, Berkeley & Rockbridge, Oakland) and directly from their website. As they continue to expand their reputation, they are currently planning on opening a dessert bar in Oakland in next summer.


Sôcôla Chocolates

More photos from visiting Sôcôla Chocolates can be seen at Flickr.

38 comments:

  1. These look and sound fantastic! It makes me wish I was still traveling to Oakland, for work.

    It's always refreshing to see people instill their own familiar flavors into a food that has been perceived to taste a certain way.

    Thanks for sharing their story.

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  2. OMG!! and here I am in Sonoma....you mentioned a giveaway?? These look fabulous. How do I enter?

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  3. Very artful. I bet they are delicious. :)

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  4. Wow, so pretty.

    I love delicate looking little chocolates. Great post!

    savvytangerine (at) aol (dot) com

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  5. Wow! they look scrumptous!! Guava in chocoalate sounds very interesting!!

    Asha
    http://forkspoonnknife.blogspot.com

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  6. Great blog and photos Emikochan!

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  7. What beautiful chocolates! I wish I lived closer.

    cookincanuck@hotmail.com

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  8. wow great chocolates I want to enter the write up was amazing and great pictures lol rebecca

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  9. Yum! Love the write up and I wished I lived close enough to try these :D

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  10. Wow, your pictures are just amazing - and the chocolate looks great too! :)

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  11. Both of your write-up and their naming have added lives to the chocolates.
    Just a note of appreciation not an entry. Thanks.

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  12. I'd like to try the tea-infused chocolates. I wonder if they'd make a vegan version of any chocolates. I'd need that too since I don't want any dairy in mine. --Spirituality of Tea

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  13. Wow, how cool to get a look behind the scenes of their chocolates! I love the name... socola, the Vietnamese word for chocolate. Makes me wish I were in NorCal, so I could visit their store... I'll definitely have to check it out next time I'm in the area.

    Do you think you could post a link to their twitter account? I tried searching for them, but to no avail... :(

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  14. Wow, the chocolates are beautiful, and the flavors sounds delicious. Thanks for telling us about them, and about the amazing sisters who seem really creative, community-oriented, and smart!

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  15. only US residents?! aaah! what am I going to do?! your photos make those chocolates look so delicious that I want to jump on the first plane to the US to get some immediately! lol

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  16. Durian in Chocolate! lol, Love their creativity and the way they repackage unique ingredients into lovely chocolate bundles.

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  17. >Allison
    Here is the link to their Twitter page.
    http://twitter.com/SocolaSisters
    Thanks for asking!

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  18. I love chocolate!!! Count me in!!!
    Carla
    cpullum(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  19. Nice story/review. I wish I could try their chocolate. Unfortunately I am not eligible for the giveaway. :( Anyway, Thanks for sharing:)

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  20. Em - Awesome, thanks for the link! I'm now following them. :)

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  21. I would love to win these, they look brilliant! :D

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  22. These Chocolates are beautiful....I want some.....

    masnyde1@yahoo.com

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  23. Mmm... these look so yummy.... By the time the giveaway is over and they get sent out, the wedding I am in will be done and I would so indulge w/ these... I really want to win!!!

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  24. Not only do they look like they would taste HEAVENLY but they are BEAUTIFUL to simply look at!

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  25. Em!! Sorry the posting took so long but here's the link to the recipe I made using the marinade:
    http://simpleelegantdelicious.blogspot.com/2009/09/lime-chipotle-pork-tacos.html

    Great story/pictures as always about the sisters! It's fascinating how they're infusing flavors of the world in their chocolates. Following them on Twitter now!

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  26. Oh gosh those pictures make me wish I could reach into the screen and take them out. Those chocolates look sooo good! *crosses fingers*

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  27. Great post, great photos, great giveaway! I love hearing about someone self-taught, as I am trying to learn more about making chocolates at home. Yum!!!!

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  28. looks awesome, thanks!

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  29. Hi Kitchen M....These chocolates look AMAZING! Love the post!!! I would love to be entered for the giveaway!

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  30. I can't believe I've never heard of Socola before. The Vietnamese Coffee sounds amazing!

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  31. Great pics. Love your blog. And yes, count me in for the chocolate giveaway! Yum.

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  32. Oohh...I would love to win some of these delectable chocolates!!They look oh-so-pretty and the flavors sound so tantalizing!! I love guava, lychee, green tea and durian....it would be fun to taste them in chocolates!

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  33. Wow, already 33 comments. This is a competition!
    Well, I will see if I get lucky...

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  34. These chocolates look exquisite. I hope to taste them soon, and perhaps use them in an upcoming class!

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  35. love the pictures and love the chocolates!

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  36. Hôm nay vào đài VOA biết hai cháu vượt qua nhiều khó khăn và gặt hái được nhiều thành công .Từ Hà nội cho ông già này gửi một lời chúc mừng chân thành đến hai chị em .Không thừa nếu bác nhắc rằng nếu ở VN thì không thể như thế dược.Có dịp nào tới Wasinton thắp hộ ông một nén hương bên bức tường đá đen tưởng niệm gần 60.000 chiến binh Hoa Kỳ đã hy sinh ở VN này ...nhớ nhé !.

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