14 February 2011

Local Love-Fest

Gilded treasures from Alma Chocolates

Sarah Hart, the creative chocolatier from Alma Chocolates, loves the Portland Farmers Market.

And we love her too.

Not just for creating lusciously sinful things like salted-lavender caramels, or bourbon bon bons, but also because Sarah and her team of dedicated artisans are committed to using and supporting local ingredients any chance they get.

Sarah talks about local ingredients, farmers, and farmers market patrons with the enthusiasm of a school-girl crush, and it’s not just Valentine’s Day that makes her feel this way. Sarah thrives when able to collaborate, and Portland Farmers Market is the perfect place to explore new ideas and stay inspired by people who know and love food.

Alma Chocolates has been selling at the Portland Farmers Market for years, as well as from the Alma storefront on NE 28th street. In addition to chocolate truffles and caramels, Alma has expanded its chocolate horizons by creating cakes, cookies, and warm chocolatey drinks backed by locally roasted Spella coffee.

The hazelnuts in Alma’s chocolates, toffees, and small-batch cookies are sourced locally from Freddy Guy’s Hazelnuts. Lavender for the salted-lavender caramels comes from Sundance Lavender Farms, and the mint for Alma’s peppermint treats comes from Seely Family Farms — all courtesy of the great state of Oregon.

It’s not just the ethics of supporting local food and farmers that interests Sarah.  It’s the quality of ingredients that she finds locally that keeps her committed. Alma’s menu varies seasonally, and in the summertime, you can enjoy ice cream and sorbets with local Oregon berries. It’s a year-round commitment to the finest ingredients available.

When I asked Sarah what it means to her to be a part of the Portland Farmers Market community, she didn’t hesitate with her answer, “we wouldn’t be where we are without the market.” Sarah likes being a part of the farmers market community and culture, and more than anything, Sarah loves the creative collaboration that being a part of the Portland Farmers Market provides.

It takes more than local ingredients to help Alma and other market artisans really stand out from commercial producers. What makes Alma and the others so special is a love of creativity and a commitment to the finest quality ingredients around. It’s a love for food, community, and the farms that food is coming from.

So in keeping with the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I’ll be the first to admit: it really is all about the love.