I’ve always been an advocate of getting off the interstates and main roads and finding what moves you in places you don’t expect to find much of anything. If you travel, you know the grim progression of gas stations, fast food joints and souvenir stands that line this nation’s roadways like tourist-teasing sentinels, out to get your money in exchange for what you think you want, as well as what you need.
But sometimes, getting off the road gets you a special find – like a chocolate bar you haven’t tried before.
On my recent trip up north, I found most of my best chocolates in small artisan shops in North Carolina and Ohio. But in a chain grocery store in rural Kentucky, I got lucky. We stopped to pick up sandwiches for a picnic lunch, and I wandered over to the candy aisle, just to check and see what kind of confections rural Kentuckians were consuming. And there I spotted it: a chocolate bar called Heidi Grand d’ Or 75%.
The bar is made in Romania, and it turns out that it is one of a line fine bars, including an 85% and several spice, nut and fruit combinations (cranberry, orange, mint, coffee, almond), pralines and seasonal novelties. A helpful map on their website (http://heidi-chocolate.com/store-locator/) shows that the company’s reach is fairly extensive, with stores in the U.S., Canada, Australia, China and parts of Europe and South America. While you cannot order the product directly from the company’s site, you can check the locator map for a store near you. The map for the U.S. locations isn’t really helpful, but it’s a start. Or you can head to a Kroger in rural Kentucky and find it there.
And the taste? Dark, rich and intense, without heavy sugar and too-strong woody notes. The 75% is a balanced and enjoyable bar, with one square going a long way.
Gourmet shops and artisan chocolatiers are always going to be a great source of true favorites and untried chocolate. But take time to take a side trip, leaving the Google map or Garmin behind. Something new could be as close as that shack near the tracks – or the shelf at the local grocery store.