Most of us know by now about the ethical choices chocolate-makers can stand by; we also know that no matter how many stamps, seals, and labels a chocolate has, taste still matters. I am happy, therefore, to introduce you to another company that takes both of these in stride. John & Kira’s is based out of Philadelphia, using local ingredients when they can and sourcing others from places like the Sir Lankan co-op from which they get tea. What I found most interesting is that they also work with programs in schools for ingredients like their mint. Hence the name of the two bars I was sent — Urban Garden Bars.
The Tangy Orange and Garden Rosemary I was hesitant about, but one sniff and hesitation turned to excitement. The fresh smell of the rosemary had me thinking of the coming holiday season and all of its glorious dishes. In other words, it isn’t odd at all. Though I was letting my thoughts wander as I put the first piece in my mouth, my attention was quickly yanked back. Using a 40% milk chocolate from Valrhona, the tastes are of cream, light and delicate chocolate, and a combination of the rosemary and orange. Everything is so light and harmonious, yet full of flavor. It exceeded my expectations. Delicious and well put-together.
The Mighty Urban Garden Mint I was less excited to try, simply because of how common mint is. But this bar isn’t done in the common way: while finding mint oil in an ingredients list can be cause for celebration enough, John & Kira’s lists “fresh mint leaves.”
The bar does smell like there is a mint sprig embedded inside (really, there aren’t pieces of mint leaves floating around, don’t worry). The mint taste is not overly pronounced, but since it is the taste you get biting into a mint leaf, this works out in the right way. The Valrhona chocolate is 62% here; add the overall freshness to that and you’ve found the mint bar you were looking for… if you were looking for a mint bar.