Why does the cat on the wrapper of 3400 Phinney's Bread & Chocolate bar look so playful and mischievous? Probably because she's partaking in the pleasures of that old Parisian standby -- bread and chocolate. This bar was given to me by my cousin just before I left for my semester in Ireland over 4 months ago. I fully intended to take it on the plane with me as a midnight snack, but amid the confusion of last-minute packing and flight anxiety I forgot. Consequently, this little bar spent the semester in my refrigerator, and I was more than delighted to find that no one had eaten it upon my return.
3400 Phinney: Bread & Chocolate
Cocoa content: 70%
Notable ingredients: french bread
3400 Phinney (the weird name refers to the chocolate factory's address) is a line of Theo Chocolate, a company that focuses mostly on single origin dark chocolate bars. The 3400 Phinney collection -- which Theo refers to as a "fantasy assortment" -- moves the focus from the chocolate to the accompanying flavors, which are often original and daring. This isn't to say the chocolate isn't good; on the contrary, it's snappy and consistent in both flavor and texture, and it comes exclusively from Central American beans. But you won't find the often overpowering acidity associated with many single origin chocolates in these bars. Some of the other flavor pairings in the 3400 Phinney collection include chai milk, coconut curry milk, and fig, fennel, and almond dark -- the last of which I can most certainly recommend.
Is everyone aware of how delicious a simple chocolate sandwich can be? I learned about it in high school, when my French exchange host parents packed me some little slices of baguette with a square of dark chocolate inside with my lunches. I've always felt like this was the perfect grain accompaniment to chocolate, far superior to the chocolate croissant. After all, chocolate is already sweet, so it shouldn't need to be surrounded by more sweetness. Salt is a much more interesting and dynamic mate for chocolate -- especially dark chocolate -- which is why a salty, crusty baguette makes the perfect complement for an earthy, sweet square of chocolate. Full disclosure: the croissant family is a family of graceless, tasteless pastry.
So the question is: does this bar serve as a good twist on the chocolate and baguette combination? In a way, no, because this bar is precisely that -- a bar -- and not a sandwich, which detracts from the structural perfection that a baguette achieves. But the little shards of crusty french bread here do add the perfect amount of salt, and a pleasant crunching sensation not unlike that of puffed rice -- but subtler, and denser. Considering that, and the high quality of the chocolate, this is a delicious bar if not an entirely successful imitator. It gets a B+.