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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Alter Eco's Dark Coconut Toffee Bar: As Good as its Producer's Politics

Posted By on Tue, May 29, 2012 at 9:00 AM

click to enlarge alter_eco.jpg

Alter Eco's new Dark Coconut Toffee 47% Cacao chocolate bar with butter and sea salt is our newest keep-away bar: Keep it away from me or I'll eat it all. It's a good thing they only sent one, as a case would have gone down just as easily.

If you are a batter and dough eater, as I am, you'll get the appeal of this bar. Mix a rich chocolate cake batter, freshly folded in with raw sugar so its grit remains, and throw in a handful of caramelized coconut fresh from a pan where you've mixed it with butter and salt, and then dive in with a spoon. That, in bar form, is the Dark Coconut Toffee bar.

click to enlarge alterecobar.jpg

In addition to being a delicious tasting treat, a requisite from which all other possibilities follow, this is a bar and company you can feel good about (though perhaps not if you eat a case of them). Alter Eco is one of the pioneers of a new crop of "values-based" companies from San Francisco that have made a national name for themselves. We came across them years ago when they introduced us to purple and red rice and variations on Quinoa beyond the standard. They show up each year at the Fancy Food Show and almost always have something new and at the least intriguing but most often delicious.

We saw them find shelf space in Whole Foods and Andronicos early on, and their exposure in the Bay Area, and beyond, continues to grow. Which is all good, as the founders -- whom I recall as almost naively optimistic and slightly long of hair and worn of jean (though memory may have romanticized this image) -- truly aspire to do good as they build this business. They seek out distinct products from around the world and work directly with farmers to find "delicious, exotic, healthy and sustainable ingredients from around the world," and primarily the "Global South. They proudly promote their fair trade and organic credentials on all their packaging.

If one had to choose between delicious food that had no soul and soulful food that had no flavor, I fear most of us would choose the first most of the time. Alter Eco allows us both.

Contact Ben Narisin at Follow us on Twitter at @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.

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Ben Narasin


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