Beer and Pavement

Indie-Craft Interview #2: Patric Chocolate’s Alan McClure

Posted in Indie-Craft, Interview by SM on April 19, 2012

This blog focuses on the intersection of indie rock, craft beer, and other independent and/or artisanal industries. I’ve tried to raise awareness of indie and craft industries while defining what constitutes “indie” and “craft” as best I can. The idea of indie-craft has been bouncing around in my skull for a while. However, it’s been tough for me to pinpoint what I want to say about it. With the indie-craft interview series, I’d like to get the perspective of those who actually produce all these great consumables and share those thoughts here.

Alan Patric McClure is one of a small handful of bean-to-bar chocolate makers in the entire US. His Patric Chocolate brand has won a couple of Good Food Awards and gets mentioned in foodie rags often. His cocoa nibs are used in beers by Jolly Pumpkin and Deep Ellum Brewing Company as well as available from Northern Brewer, a popular homebrew supply store.

Over the last couple years, I’ve shared a few good beers, a discussion of Neutral Milk Hotel’s Aeroplane Over the Sea, and a Berkshire hog with Alan. Today, he shares his thoughts on indie-craft.

1. Describe your craft(s).

I make chocolate from bean to bar. It involves sourcing properly grown, fermented and dried cocoa beans with interesting and delicious flavor notes and helping them to shine, while creating additional pleasant flavors via roasting, refining and conching. We then mold and package the finished chocolate bar. From beginning to end, this entire process, from sourcing to finished bar, takes months.

 2. What’s the importance or benefit of remaining indie?

I believe that a craft producer can grow to be quite large, while still being independent (i.e. not controlled by the public). I also believe that being independent allows for greater creativity, though independent companies don’t always innovate.

3. How does your craft contribute to society?

Good chocolate makes people happy, feeding their sense of wellbeing, while also literally feeding them. It is good to be a part of both processes.

4. What other indie-craft products inspire you?

Spirits, beer, cheese, bread, charcuterie, and pickles.

5. What is your dream of success?

I don’t know. It changes all the time. I suppose that all versions include external appreciation for the chocolate that we make, and continued existence. Earning a living wage wouldn’t be half bad either.

Alan’s chocolate has ruined all other chocolate for me. It’s that good. His chocolate is responsible for my chocolate epiphany the same way Stone’s Ruination IPA was a beer epiphany or Nirvana’s Nevermind changed music for me forever. Don’t take my word for it. Find out for yourself and buy his fine, artisanal chocolate here.

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Chocolate and Beer

Posted in Beer by SM on December 9, 2011

Below is the post I published on a chocolate dinner I attended Sunday night. It’s not really about beer, nor Pavement, but I thought it a good way to fill Friday’s slot without stressing. As you’ll see, I drank an Ommegang Abbey Ale which is a Belgian Dubbel. The beer goes excellently with chocolate, but I wonder if there are other options. I currently have a Mikkeller Chipotle Porter which should go well with a dark chocolate, possibly Patric’s 70% Signature Blend or even the 75% Madagascar Sambirano Valley. I’m not sure I can go wrong with either. We are also hosting the dessert portion of a progressive holiday dinner. I want to serve chocolate cake or brownies with a lambic or kriek. There are just so many possibilities.

Which beers do you prefer with chocolate? Also, let me know what you think of the dinner described below. You may also want to keep an eye out for Patric Chocolate…

Local Smoked Pecan & Mustard Encrusted Lamb Chops with Mint-Chocolate Bread Pudding, Wilted Spinach and a Norton Wine & Rosemary Jus

When one thinks of chocolate, a Hershey’s bar comes to mind or maybe the obligatory box of chocolates in the shape of a heart. Rarely do we think “food,” but that’s what chocolate is. It’s food. We’ve just grown accustomed to adding loads of sugar (and/or high-fructose corn syrup) and calling it a treat or dessert. However, in those cases, we’re just eating sugar, not chocolate.

Columbia is lucky in that we are home to one of the very few artisanal bean-to-bar chocolate producers in the country. Alan Patric McClure is the man behind the award-winning Patric Chocolate. I’ve been lucky enough to spend some time with Alan and he is all about the food aspect of chocolate – and other foods for that matter. We once drove up to Macon just to bring back an entire Berkshire hog. His passion for food goes way past his profession. Still, it’s hard to deny the prowess of his chocolate-making.

Wine Cellar & Bistro executive chef Craig Cyr creates unique dishes you find anywhere else in Columbia. He masterfully incorporates local foodstuffs into seasonally-specific dishes that will amaze and plat with flavor in unexpected ways. Getting a chance to work with Patric Chocolate (for the second time) provided numerous possibilities, especially with Patric’s extended line of bars that now use outside flavors to augment the chocolate. This is what happened Sunday evening.

The two CoMo food commodities combined for one of the more memorable meals I’ve had since moving here over six years ago. The menu looked something like this along with my notes:

Blue Cheese Cracker with Toasted Black Walnuts & Thyme
and with Dark Milk Chocolate Fondue
Dark Milk Bar
What a start! The blue cheese dominated the the cracker but was matched with the dark milk chocolate fondue. It was an intense match enlivened by a glass of sparkling wine.

Arugula Salad with Local Coffee & Salt-Roasted Beets, Dried Cherries, Crispy
Shallots, Mocha Chocolate and a Balsamic Vinaigrette
Mocha OMG Bar
One would think that chocolate, much less coffee-infused chocolate, wouldn’t pair well with a salad. Well, one would be wrong. The bar was worked into the dressing. The coffee and salt-roasted beets and arugula had enough bitterness to stand up to the dressing, leaving us with a mouthful of a salad.

Grilled Scallop with Nibs wrapped with Prosciutto Americana, served with
Cinnamon & Cardamon-Butternut Squash Custard, Grapefruit Chutney and
Madagascar Chocolate-Dipped Candied Grapefruit
Madagascar 67% Dark Chocolate
This dish may have been my favorite of the night. The nibs created a dark stripe down the middle of the scallop one could barely make out below the prosciutto. The only way to fully enjoy this dish was to somehow shovel all the parts onto one’s fork at one time. Bitterness, smokiness, sweetness, tartness all worked together to create a symphony in one’s mouth. (Sorry. Did I overdo it?) Patric Chocolate is known for its bouquet of flavors and this dish captured them all.

Sweet & Sour Chocolate-Glazed Fried Chicken with Garlic, Ginger and Chili, served
with Stir-Fry Rice Noodles, Shiitakes, Sesame, Cabbage
and Sarsaparilla Poached Apples
Signature 70% Blend
The flavors, particularly the chocolate, shot off my fork upon the first bite. However, the saltiness of the sweet & sour sauce took over and rendered them MIA. Still, this was a great way to enjoy a little fried chicken (Alan’s suggestion for the menu).

Local Smoked Pecan & Mustard Encrusted Lamb Chops with Mint-Chocolate Bread
Pudding, Wilted Spinach and a Norton Wine & Rosemary Jus
Mint OMG Bar
Mint makes sense for lamb chops. In this case, I was surprised at what the chocolate was also able to bring to my palate. In a meal of richness and decadence, this one took the prize for most indulgent. I just wish it weren’t too uncouth to pick up the chop and suck the meat from the bone.

Banana & Nib Belgian Waffle topped with PBJ Chocolate Mousse, Caramelized
Bananas and Chocolate Ganache
PBJ OMG Bar
Of course there was a dessert course for a chocolate dinner. I had forgotten just how peanut buttery the PBJ OMG bar actually was. I was able to try early incarnations of the bar before it hit store shelves. The mousse was so full of peanut buttery-goodness that it reminded me of some of those first versions of the bar. The nibs also made the perfect nut replacement within the waffle.

As you can see, it was an impressive spread that could not fail. I’m not one to normally comment on the size of servings, but for a meal such as this, there was plenty to eat. The rounds just kept coming, putting my palate through quite a workout. In the end, all the chocolate kept both my partner and I up way past our bedtimes.

Since I am more of a beer drinker than that of wine, I washed down this fantastic meal with an Ommegang Abbey Ale, a Belgian Tripel by way of upstate New York. The malty sweetness and aromas of dark fruits paired nicely with the dishes heavier in chocolate. The Belgian yeast provided a bit of delicacy for matching the salad and grapefruit that accompanied the scallop.

If you needed a reason to buy some Patric Chocolate or to have dinner at Wine Cellar & Bistro, this menu was it. Patric Chocolate can be purchased online or at various stores around town such as World Harvest, Kaldi’s, and Hy-Vee. You may also get your chocolate fix at their website. For dinner at Wine Cellar & Bistro, check their website for hours of service and events like this one.

In the end, pay a little homage to two CoMo food favorites this holiday season.

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