When I put Rogue Chocolate in my gift guide as one of the best presents you could possibly tuck into a stocking this year, I thought it was a no-brainer: Rogue Chocolate, the extraordinary, the spectacular, the fantastic! But I was chastened when I got e-mails along the lines of: Omigod, this is the best chocolate ever, why didn’t anyone tell me?!
To which I can only say: Apologies, those are the perils of news reporting. Once a reporter reports, she tends to move on. But in this case, the news stays the same: Rogue Chocolatier’s chocolate bars are some of the best you can buy, some of the rarest you can buy, and they’re made right here in southeast Minneapolis in the world’s smallest bean-to-bar factory. (Here’s a link to a story I wrote on Rogue in late 2007 that should tell you everything I then or now comprehended about how it’s done.)
Since 2007 when he started his operation with little more than passion for chocolate and a never-say-die attitude towards machinery, Gasko’s operation has been moving in a positive direction: Rogue Chocolates are now sold all over the U.S., especially on the West coast. (For those with a New York City inferiority complex, please know that Gasko told me something I’ve heard from other food artisans: ‘There’s not a lot going on in Manhattan right now. It’s all chains.’) The best distribution is still here in Minnesota, at places including South Minneapolis’ Sugar Sugar, the Surdyk’s Cheese Shop, Golden Fig, France 44’s Cheese Shop, and the St. Paul Cheese Shop. You can also find Rogue chocolate in hot chocolate at Kopplin’s Coffee and in chocolate ice cream at south Minneapolis’ Pump House.
The gift to get this new year is the Piura, a single-estate chocolate from a tiny cacao farm in northern Peru. Only four bags of beans came out of this estate this year, which Gasko will have translated into a mere 4,000 chocolate bars—once they’re gone they’re gone forever. This is not a marketing gimmick! They’re not cheap, $9 for the Pura Bars on the website, and $7 for the others, but they’re as good as they get.