Kerstin’s Chocolates’ Name That Origin Finals

A few weeks ago, I participated in the Name That Origin contest at Kerstin’s Chocolates, more to be able to sample different single origin chocolates for free than to actually attempt at securing a spot in the finals. As I was only able to correctly identify one out of four samples, my only chance at entering the finals would be as a wildcard. And wouldn’t you know it, they chose me.

As this was the first Name That Origin contest Kerstin’s has ever held, Cyrus was sure to explain the rules – the prize was a $400 gift certificate to Kerstin’s, after all. In the first round, all contestants would taste six single origin varieties, with the task of matching them to a supplied list of six possible countries of origin. Based on our responses, four would be selected to move on to the semi-finals, with “lighting round” taste-offs. Two pairs of contestants would square off, alternating their answers until the correct answer was given. The finals would see the last two contestants face off in a similar manner. To ensure no foul play, Jennifer Cockrall-King and Scott McKeen were on hand to monitor and observe the proceedings.

Cyrus introduces the monitors

Water and crackers were provided as palate cleansers, but regardless, I knew there was no hope for me – my single origin palate is not refined at all, as evidenced from my poor showing in the preliminary round. Still, I was happy to be included – it was nice to be among fellow chocolate lovers!

Readying our ballots

Possible countries of origin

The eight contestants were given about 15 minutes to taste samples of the six chocolates, and were allowed to try multiple pieces. I did my best to jot down notes on the distinct flavours of each piece, but with no real point of reference to match it to, it was a fruitless task for me.


My guesses

Cyrus called time, and the ballots were collected and tallied. Though I wasn’t dead last, I was only able to correctly identify one chocolate (SaoTome & Principe, which had a smoky flavour and a grainy texture). Kristina, Erin, Jason and Jessica were onto the semi-finals.

Kristina and Erin were up first, and had to taste and identify one of the six varieties from the first round. Erin was the winner, correctly naming the origin on her first try.


Jason and Jessica were up next, with Jessica emerging as the winner.

Tasting chocolate is very serious business

Though the final was originally meant to include a previously untried chocolate, Cyrus said that the possible countries of origin would be too numerous and thus too difficult to identify. So, one of the remaining four chocolates from the first round was chosen for the last taste-off.

Erin vs. Jessica

The winner? <drumroll please> Erin, who was able to identify Papua New Guinea as the origin of the chocolate. She attributed her success to a website called All Chocolate, which has a guide of tasting notes by country, and she had also purchased several single-origin bars to try at home.

Erin collects her prize from Kerstin

The seven runners-up were each given a box of Ghost Chile Salted Caramels by Theo Chocolate – not a bad consolation prize at all (I had one afer I returned home – delish).

Delectable consolation prize

Cyrus said that they would be holding more Name That Origin contests in the future, and that the contest really helped them fulfill one of their original intentions of the shop – to help spread awareness and educate people about chocolate.

Thanks again to Kerstin’s for the invitation to participate, and I look forward to continuing to learn more about single origin chocolates!

You can check out my photoset here, and Jennifer Cockrall-King will be uploading a video of the finals soon to her website.

Kerstin’s Chocolates: “Name That Origin” Contest

I popped over to Kerstin’s Chocolates after a meeting in the area late this afternoon. I had heard about their Name That Origin Contest a few weeks ago, and was intrigued.

Kerstin’s all decked out for the holidays

Anyone can enter the free contest by simply going to the shop. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, besides being provided four different single origin chocolates to try (and really, who could turn down free chocolate?).

Chocolate samples

Kerstin walked me through the process – I would fill out an entry form and if I was correct in identifying all four chocolates, I would be given a container of Kerstin’s Drinking Chocolate, as well as invitation to their final tasting challenge to take place on December 22. If I failed, I would be given a 20% discount card for the shop (bonus!).

Preceding the spaces where my answers would go on was a paragraph highlighting tasting notes to look for in cocoa from a certain region, whether it be citrus, floral or fruit notes. It was a good place to start, even though only one of the chocolates had a flavour distinct enough for my palate to identify. Regardless of my limited success though, I really appreciated the opportunity to taste the different chocolates (I have attended their formal tastings before, and I highly recommend it as a fun way to learn more about chocolate).

Of course, I put the discount card to good use, and picked up a few bars of Chocophilia. The shop is just bursting with decadent gifts for the chocoholic on your list, with beautifully packaged Kerstin’s gift packs, tiny bundles of Valrhona squares, and amusing Michel Cluizel confections like this one:

Good thing they’re not sardine-flavoured chocolates

The Name That Origin Contest runs until December 22.

Kerstin’s Chocolates
10139 112 Street
(780) 990-0011
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 11am-5pm, Thursday 11-7pm, Saturday 10am-5pm, Closed Sunday and Monday

Kerstin’s Chocolates’ Chocolate Covered Bacon

Today I brought home a gastronomic gem never before seen in Edmonton: chocolate covered bacon.

Chocolate Covered Bacon

To commemorate Father’s Day, Kerstin’s Chocolates pulled out all the stops – sourcing prized Berkshire bacon from local farm Sunshine Organic, they created a treat worthy of conversation. Crispy strips of bacon are dipped in Venezuelan single origin 49% dark chocolate, then sprinkled with Madagascar cocoa nibs – a sweet and savoury confection that would certainly add something special to the Sunday brunch table.

I picked some up after work this afternoon (limited quantities are available at The Cocoa Room until Saturday, June 20), with the intent to share the discovery with Mack. The two strips cost me $5.25 at $15.00/100g. While I am a huge fan of Kerstin’s Chocolate (my favourite Chocophilia Bars are Mocha Bean and Educador 72%), Mack’s love of bacon is unrivalled. We thought it might be best to capture both perspectives in one post.


On the idea:

Sharon: I was intrigued, though I know from past experience, sweet and salty combinations are hit or miss for my palate – salty caramels: yes. Chocophilia’s Fleur de Sel: no.

Mack: Did someone say bacon?

On first glance:

Sharon: I’m not sure I was expecting whole slices of bacon, but I suppose they are more presentable, and pleasing to the eye that way.

Mack: Somehow a strip of chocolate covered bacon looks underwhelming relative to the idea.

On initial contact:

Sharon: Cutting to divide the strip in half with a knife, I didn’t expect the resounding crunch.

Mack: Looking at the cross-section, I was happy to be able to distinguish the layer of bacon in between chocolate.

On first taste:

Sharon: Nothing beats Kerstin’s dark chocolate! But I’m not sure about the chewiness…

Mack: First the chocolate, then a hint of bacon, and an unfamiliar texture. Interesting.


Sharon: I can’t say the bacon really came through for me – the star of the show was definitely the chocolate. The nibs were supposed to add another element I suppose, but they weren’t necessary.

Mack: I wish I loved chocolate as much as I love bacon.


Sharon: It’s definitely a conversation starter (or shocker). Mack Twittered that he was about to try chocolate covered bacon, and received numerous replies in a matter of minutes!

Mack: I’ll stick to plain bacon and deep-fried Mars bars, but cool concept.

Kudos to Kerstin’s for highlighting a local farmer, and for getting people excited about an unusual product. Who knows what they will cover in chocolate next? Send your requests to Kerstin’s via Twitter. Sunshine Organic will be offering samples of the bacon at their City Centre Market booth on Saturday.

Kerstin’s Chocolates, The Cocoa Room
10139 112 Street
(780) 990-0011

“A Very Sexy Party” at Eden Lilly

There was an intriguing invitation to something billed as “a very sexy party” in the latest Kerstin’s Chocolates newsletter I was sent last week. “A collective of likeminded business who like to have fun would like to invite you to share in something chic,” it went on. Among the businesses were Kerstin’s, Leva, Elegant Touches, To Be in Pictures, and Eden Lilly, where the party was to be held. Food and drink were to be expected, but beyond that, I didn’t know what to anticipate. Mack agreed to come with me, and off to Whyte Ave we went on Friday night.

I think the party was most interesting to me because the collective was outside of any established group, such as Keep Edmonton Original or Original Fare, but in my mind, was a great way to cross-promote each other.

When we arrived, we were greeted by someone at the door who checked our name off the guest list (150 people were anticipated, we were told later), and given two drink tickets. Cosmopolitans, wine, and beer were available, and we happily imbibed.

With my Cosmo

Eden Lilly was definitely not meant to house large groups of people for any lengthy period of time (the space was rather stuffy and humid by the end of our stay), but the organizers had done a great job in setting the atmosphere. A DJ had set up shop at the cash counter (which answered my question of whether or not we would be asked to buy anything), the lighting was perfect for a cocktail party, and beautiful flower arrangements were scattered on tables throughout the store.

The spread (containing a divine baked brie)

Kerstin’s had provided the chocolate for a self-serve fondue station, which involved dipping raisin bread into rich chocolate, then coating it with a choice of cocoa nibs. Yum!

Mack tests the fondue

We caught up with Roz from Eden Lilly later on in the night, and asked her what inspired the group to come up with such a unique event. She mentioned that customer appreciation was one factor, but also, as all of the businesses had similar goals (and likely similar clientele), that it was a good opportunity to host an event together.

Thanks to everyone involved for organizing a great party! I hope there are similar events in the future.