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Food and Drink

Try new local chocolate made from hand-ground beans

Cocoa beans from Guatemala. (Photo courtesy: Wildland Chocolates)

Take a brief break from the zucchini and lettuce this week at the Midtown Anchorage Farmers Market for some Anchorage-made chocolate.

Wildland Chocolate is returning to the market this week. The new business has been making an occasional appearance at the market through the summer.

Suzanne Bostrom says Wildland is “bean-to-bar chocolate makers, meaning we make all our dark chocolate from scratch, using just single-origin cocoa beans and cane sugar that we roast and stone grind in small batches into chocolate right here in Anchorage.”

Wildland sources its cocoa beans from around the globe — Tanzania, Peru, Ecuador, Guatemala and Belize.

“Much like wine or coffee, cocoa beans have different flavors depending on where they are from and how we roast/make the chocolate,” says Jimmy Ord. “We work on teasing out the flavors of real chocolate, which naturally has flavors like cedar, raspberry, fig and cinnamon.”

The journey from warm-weather cacao farm to an Alaska farmers market got its start on a vacation trip through Central America.

Ord says the couple took a class, learning how to make chocolate from scratch on a small organic farm.

“The first thing we did when we returned to the U.S. was to get a stone grinder for making chocolate at home,” he says. “Suzanne has a number of food allergies that make it difficult to find chocolate that is safe. At first, we started making chocolate in part because of how fun it was and in part because it allowed us to make chocolate that was free of all the additives common with store-bought chocolate. But along the way, we discovered so much more -- about not only the stories behind the different cacao farmers and cooperatives that are growing incredible cacao and the amazing flavors of that cacao, but also the movement to elevate farmer pay and to address the many human rights issues associated with the cacao industry.”

Ord says the Wildland chocolate bars are made without soy, nuts, peanuts, dairy and gluten. Even the company’s milk and white chocolates are made dairy-free, using organic coconut.

The bean-to-bar process is a bit time consuming, Bostrom says.

“It takes us several days to make our chocolate,” she says. “First, we roast the beans at different times and temperatures to tease out different flavors. Then we crack the beans and separate the cocoa nibs from their husk. After that, we grind and conch the chocolate for multiple days to get a really smooth texture and to further refine the different flavors.

“Last, we temper the chocolate so it gets that classic chocolate ‘snap’ and will melt in your mouth slowly so you can experience all the different flavors as they develop.”

Get in line Saturday at the Midtown market or find Wildland Chocolate at the Fire Island market on Wednesday.

At the markets

Midtown and South Anchorage farmers markets: It’s certainly not all about chocolate at the Midtown Market — there will be plenty of zucchini, lettuces, potatoes, peas and more.

“All markets are heavy with zucchini and cabbage-family products now, including kale, cauliflower and broccoli,” Barb Landi says. “Beets are coming on strong and bigger each week, as are carrots.

“Tomatoes of all kinds are appearing at almost every stand: cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, plump red slicing tomatoes.”

And at Saturday’s South Anchorage market, Rempel Family Farm will have first-of-the-year celery and pickling cucumbers.

Muldoon Farmers Market: Jerrianne Lowther says the market is bursting with colorful produce, from carrots to red and golden beets, new potatoes, green beans and raspberries. Dinkel’s Veggies will have an “abundance of pickling cucumbers,” says Mark Dinkel.

Anchorage Farmers Market: Arctic Organics has new cabbage, carrots, radicchio and cilantro at Saturday’s market. Sarah Bean says the farm is recovering from the unusual heat: “Our field is showing signs of recovering from the heat wave, though there are still vestiges of it in the form of aberrantly shaped broccoli heads, and bolting fennel, sadly. Our next lettuce crop is nearly ready in the aftermath of the last one going to seed all at once.”

Center Market: Alex Davis says the indoor market is full of broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, snow peas, beets, lettuce and more. “The avalanche of fresh produce is upon us,” he says. “Now is a great time to start filling your freezer with more than fish.”

Local farmers markets

Friday in Anchorage: Center Market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Midtown Mall

Friday outside of Anchorage: Palmer Friday Fling, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., South Valley Way

Saturday in Anchorage: Anchorage Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., 15th Avenue and Cordova Street; Anchorage Market and Festival, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Third Avenue between C and E streets; Anchorage Midtown Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., BP Alaska; Center Market, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Midtown Mall; Jewel Lake Farmers Market, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., 8427 Jewel Lake Road; Muldoon Farmers Market, 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Chanshtnu Muldoon Park; South Anchorage Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., O’Malley Sports Center; Spenard Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., 2555 Spenard Road

Saturday outside of Anchorage: Healy Farmers Market, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Mile 249.2 Parks Highway; Highway’s End Farmers Market, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Delta Junction; Homer Farmers Market, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Ocean Drive; Tanana Valley Farmer’s Market, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., 2600 College Road, Fairbanks

Sunday in Anchorage: Anchorage Market and Festival, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Third Avenue between C and E streets

Tuesday outside of Anchorage: Food Bank Farmers Market, 3-6 p.m., Kenai Peninsula Food Bank, 33955 Community College Drive, Soldotna

Wednesday in Anchorage: Center Market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Midtown Mall; Northway Mall Market, 9a.m.-4 p.m., 3101 Penland Parkway; South Anchorage Wednesday Market, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., near Dimond Center Hotel; Wednesday Market at Airport Heights, 3-7 p.m., Fire Island Rustic Bake Shop, 2530 E. 16th Ave.

Wednesday outside of Anchorage: Highway’s End Farmers Market, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Delta Junction; Homer Farmers Market, 2-5 p.m., Ocean Drive; Soldotna Wednesday Market, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Soldotna Creek Park; Tanana Valley Farmer’s Market, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., 2600 College Road, Fairbanks; Wasilla Farmers Market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Iditapark/Wonerland Park

Thursday in Anchorage: Thankful Thursdays market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Midtown Mall

Thursday outside of Anchorage: Peters Creek Farmers Market, 3-7 p.m., American Legion Post 33, 21426 Old Glenn Highway

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