Chocolate equals Love
When I met with Sarah Hart and her daughter Hannah Sullivan in their new kitchen at NE 6th Ave, they offered me a sample of their “ Salted Peanut Butter Cup”. Literally, in the moment you bite into this sweet and salty chocolate creation and you are a chocoholic like me, you stop a moment out of the daily routine. Why does chocolate make us happy? It isn’t an imagination that we desire chocolate mostly in stressful times or crave after it when we crave to feel relaxed or happy. Chocolate causes the brain to release endorphins, chemicals that let us feel good. So when you are one of people who have this chronic craving after chocolate, here is the solution: Eat it, and be happy. Since 2005, Alma Chocolate has made heavenly exquisite sweet chocolate confections with organic butter, fresh herbs, local ingredients and high quality chocolate. They have salt- sweet pralines, salty- nutty chocolate bars, icons with gold, caramel sauces, toffee and barks available at their retail store on NE 28th Ave, at the Saturday Farmers Market, in one of their retail locations or order it online and get it delivered to your door. In case you crave after a special chocolate drink I highly recommended their hot chocolate drinks.
The name Alma originates from Sarah’s grandmother, Alma Hart. She taught Sarah to bake pies and how to nourish others through a love of good food. Alma means spirit or soul in Spanish.
The signature of a business is not only the product, more it is the driven personality who is behind that the scene. When I meet with the owners, I always get the moment during the chat where I feel a purity, honesty and passion. At the time where people tell me about their background, you will see shining eyes, because they realize what they reached until today.
The same happened with Sarah Hart as I sat down with her and her daughter Hannah…
strong>A: Could you tell me a little about your background and when you moved to Portland?
I am a Writing- Literature professor and taught college writing before we moved to Portland. We moved to Portland when Hannah was in the 3rd Grade out of family reasons.
I did not find a teaching job and needed to make money to pay the bills, so I worked in restaurants. I did that for a few years and got pregnant with my second child.
Working at restaurants was a good way to compare family and work. I could work some shifts and could stay over the day with my family.
A: When did you realize you wanted your own business?
S: I think it was a long process over time. I did not know what exactly wanted until I woke up one day thought: I like food and want to work in this industry. I think the chocolate was always on my radar. But when I packed the Easter basket for my son and bought him this chocolate chicken with this goofy eyes which looks horrible, I said to myself it could look so amazing.
A: Who taught you all the techniques and did you attend a culinary program?
S: I mostly self-taught. I started to learn how to temperature chocolate and read books about the history of chocolate. At this time my son was so little I doesn’t want to do full pastry program, I wanted only a chocolate program.
Then I got in touch with Ian Titterton the original chocolatier from Moonstruck Chocolate Co., and explained him what I was looking for. We developed a curriculum and he taught her the craft every Sunday for about one year. I went to Valrhona, France to deepen my knowledge.
A: What happened the last couples of years?
S: The last couples of years where more about business growing, business training. We reached the physical capacity in our retail shop and it was the time to expand. I knew we had a formula and recipes that worked well, so it was time to scale up. During this time my daughter Hannah was at the point of moving back to Portland from New York. So everything came hand in hand. Eventually we found the new kitchen and office in NE 6th Ave.
Finding a moment of happiness is not far away and takes only one bite! Chocolate is everywhere, but chocolate has the same effect, like other precious things we find, own or enjoy: We appreciate every moment and are satisfied in indulging only this moment.
by Annika Bielig-Busmann
140 NE 28th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97232