Let me start at the beginning: I love the Wild Ophelia packaging, and there is nothing so refreshing as that feeling.
Making one of my rounds through the shelves of World Market, I paused at this previously unseen line. Four or five bars sat there waving hello to me. I got that feeling where your eye starts to curl up into a smile and you know this find can be special. It would have been easy to gather up all the bars like a bouquet: their colors and designs complemented each other so well. But as they’re in the upper price range at $5 for 57 grams, I started with just one. Obviously, it was the expressive cowgirl style of the packaging that got my attention. Living in the Southwest and seeing many blandly, badly designed tourist items, products that hold their own Western look are lovely to find. And if done correctly, the combination of Western with feminine is just fun. The bar I chose is very simple, though still in-your-face, in design, with its Western lettering in bold pink sitting on a reddish-brown background with the outline of a chili pepper and the company logo. Somehow, too, the range gives off the aura that it uses natural ingredients.
It turns out that that is something Wild Ophelia strives for. But what I’m more interested in is that the collection is created by Katrina Markoff of Vosges. I missed this line on the back when I was still at the store because the front won me over enough that I only made a quick glance at the back for the ingredients list. On the Wild Ophelia website, Katrina writes that the line “was born to teach the world how to engage with American food in a meaningful way.” I’m certainly all for a goal like that.
Though I hadn’t yet read this statement, at my first bite I wanted this chocolate to have character; it couldn’t let me down after all the faith I’d put in it. The chocolate is at the fairly low 62% cacao and has added ancho and chipotle peppers, cinnamon, and cayenne peppers. Sometimes, I admit, chili chocolates bore me lately–some companies seem to focus more on heat than flavor. Or the particular chili flavor they use isn’t one I much like. But the New Orleans chili bar does offer something. It isn’t insignificant that there are four types of ingredients, cinnamon included, adding to the spicy flavor. What’s also interesting is the way this flavor combines with the fairly sweet chocolate: it isn’t the random counterpart, but part of the mix. The peppers and cinnamon draw off of the chocolate’s sweetness. What is the level of spiciness, you ask? Medium or medium-high, I would say.
So I’m still intrigued. I would certainly, six years ago, have rather purchased this bar at a store selling pottery and other such Southwestern items than one called Route 66 (or something similar)–that one was terrible, while this one is expressive. Now I only have four left to try.