A tour of Fremont's Theo Chocolate Factory is more than just a splendid tasting of premium chocolates, and seeing the process from start to finish, it's also an experience in learning about Fair Trade certified cocoa beans and environmental responsibility.
The guided factory tour reveals lime-green-painted machines, enormous vats, and copper piping everywhere -- the bean processing area looks like a Rube Goldberg invention of fantastical contraptions (photo #2). Here, the beans are roasted, refined, blended, and “conched” – a slow process to tease out each distinctive “terroir” flavor. Then they are formed and decorated in the Confection Kitchen.
Cocoa Nibs were new to me. These roasted nuggets of unprocessed cocoa bean are sold, then minced in a coffee grinder for use in baked goods and other culinary creations – a “hot” item for chefs.
Theo’s is one of only 12 true chocolate makers in the U.S., “bean to bar.” The majority of other chocolatiers are “melters,” not makers. The company is America’s only organic, Fair Trade-certified chocolate maker. Fair Trade designates a category of buyers such as Theo’s who pay above-market prices for commodities to ensure that extra dollars support the infrastructure of cacao-growing, and help eliminate slave labor and unsound practices.
You might ask where the name Theo comes from? The cacao plant’s botanical name is Theobroma cacao, literally “food of the gods,” as the Mayans and Aztecs called it. Of course, they also fed chocolate drinks to their human sacrifices!
But now, on to the tasting. Theo’s chocolates range from a 91% limited edition dark chocolate to bars with innovative flavors of chai, vanilla, and coconut curry (my favorite). Theo “confections” (truffles, really) are spectacular, with a mint one that tasted like real garden mint, not an artificial breath-mint flavor.
The company has been producing chocolates only since 2006, but their place in the premium market seems assured. The factory is housed in a reconditioned historic brick building (photo #3).
Fremont was another cool district I was fortunate to see. It was apparently founded and settled by the hippy types and today a lot of them still live there. It has lots of hip places to hang out like the Gasworks Park and there is a lot of public art that you will enjoy as you explore around. I fondly remember this monument at the bus stop that looked like a family and they are often dressed apparently by local people depending on the event or celebration. There was a massive statue of Lenin. Not sure how that got there and rocket sent from the Russians. There is obviously a Fremont / Russian connection. In my picture you can see a massive troll! For your interest the beetle car in the troll’s hand is to scale so that will give you an idea how big the troll is!
There is also a draw bridge over in Fremont. I was lucky to get across it and back with no problems but apparently when the bridge goes up it halts the traffic in the area for a little while. I recommend you go over to Fremont and explore around. You can also find some more great stores, restaurants and bars over there!
Although Fremont started out as an independent city, it has been part of Seattle since 1891; however, I'm not sure that people there got the notice! There definitely is something special about that neighborhood that makes it feel like an entirely different town. The Fremont Chamber of Commerce, which has taken to promoting Fremont as "The Center of the Universe", produces brochures that include a walking guide to some of the district's weirdest attractions, along with a series of information panels that give tongue-in-cheek descriptions of Fremont's most popular monuments.
One of these attractions is the gigantic "Fremont Troll" hiding under the Aurora Bridge, a 5.5 m high statue of a troll crushing a Volkwagen Beetle. Another interesting monument is the 5 m high bronze statue of Lenin, which originally stood at the center of Lenin Square in Propad, part of the former Czechoslovakia. The guide also shows where to find the Fremont Rocket, an old rocket fuselage dating from the Cold War that has been affixed to the roof of a building and which proudly bears Fremont's motto, "De Libertas Quirkas", which would translate as "Freedom to be peculiar". Richard Beyer's "Waiting for the Interurban" sculpture is another district icon, frequently the target of "art attacks". People are encouraged to dress up the statues to celebrate special events and submit their pictures to the History House of Greater Seattle. And these are only a few examples!
Fremont also offers some nice shopping (I found a great second-hand bookstore) and dining options. It's also nice to follow the Burke-Gilman Trail that goes along the canal. And the best part is that Fremont is just a short bus ride away from downtown Seattle!
We took our nieces to Seattle for Spring Break. We took them to the Hendrix statue which they loved. They were disappointed, tho, when we got to Fremont and it was a statue of Lenin and not John Lennon!!
This really is pretty unique. Apparently the statue was found lying face down in the streets of Moscow and someone (sorry, don't know their name) bought it and shipped it to Seattle and it ended up in Fremont!
Seattle's funky, hip, artistic and quickly gentrifying neighborhood welcomes you! Fremont is the place to come for a European style walkable community where everything a reasonable person could want is at hand within about four blocks. You'll find plenty of restaurants, bookstores and shops of all kinds as well as a lovely promenade along the canal. But it's the public art that attracts most tourists. The Fremont identity is largely defined by the art and artists who live, work and play here. Visit my Fremont page for all of my favorite spots and why this is such a great community.
Hi..well, you mention meeting people and I find that getting-out of downtown Seattle and going to the Fremont area always yields some good people, food and shopping experiences. It is a short (and intersting bus ride...the no. 26) and worthwhile Seattle experience. There is a also a small park where the famous Google has an office. A wonderful place for a reasonable and delicious meal is the PCC ( a co-op), with many options in their fabulous buffet. You could get you eats to go and walk a block, to the park and sit by water...maybe, even,meet a Google employee.
The Stickman Cafe is excellent, with real drip coffee, the best espresso drinks,and a courtyard like you would find in Europe, but with a distinctive Seattle stamp on it!
The famous Lenin statue is here as well. If you like art, there are many examples of creative architecture and art stores...the Stone Cold Creamery building has some unique sculptures. Peets coffee is another good people watching and meeting place.
Port Townsend is a wonderful, small town with an amazing cafe...the Taylor Street Cafe (a real Parisian pastry chef)...plus, this is just a gorgous and interesting town. There you may visit many boats, see some creative streets/homes and enjoy the charm often missing in touristy places. It is my favorite town in Washington.
Bellingham is about one to two hours away from Seattle...Chuckanut Drive is astounding, offer views of the SanJuans and the famous Oyster Bar restaurant.
It is one of the most beautiful drives in America. (Just after Mt. Vernon, look for highway markers). Then, from here you could zip up to Vancouver. (take the Aldergrove option).
Fremont used to be a funky artist neighborhood with lots of vintage clothing shops. Well the only thing that remains are the clothing shops. This neigborhood has changed into an ecletic shopping district with great antique stores, trendy clothing, and a few tasty restaurants in between.
Check out Les Amis for beautiful albeit pricey women's clothing. The gauzy, dreamy dresses are unique and comfortable. Also stop into Burnt Sugar for various retro-inspired housewares and other nick-nacks.
Sonic Boom is a great place to buy local music.
Of course the Sunday flea market is a must see for new and old clothing, furniture and the best crepes!!
Depending on the time of year you may be able to catch the Solstice parade, an outdoor movie playing every weekend during the summer or the fall oktoberfest celebrating many of the Washington microbreweries.
During the summer months Fremont Sunday Market is my favorite place to wander around. Fremont is such a beautiful area with great people watching. The market often includes many antique vendors along with local artists showing home made jewelry, clothing, and many types of photography. If your looking for something to do, don't want to spend a lot of money, and want to enjoy the art (and beautiful scenery) this will definately be the spot for you.
Freemont Troll - Under the Freemont Bridge. This cement troll was created by local artisans, who used a VW bug to put under the troll's hand. He has huge glass eyes and a single tear coming down his cheek. You can imagine how big this is. Freemont is THE place to live if you're young, hip, and wealthy.
Pikes Market - This 3 story marketplace can be done quickly, or slowly depending on your love of crowds. Do see the famous fishthrowers at the seafood market. You can miss the cheesy vendors selling jewelry and trinkets. Rub the brass pig outside. If you're fond of cooking, there is a place called Sur Le Table for chefs, right outside the market. Also check out the little French bakery near the flower vendors and the very first Starbucks EVER. Woo hoo. People sell fresh herbs out there and beautiful...plants.
Seattle is known for its glassmaking, especially the work of Dale Chihuly. Any art gallery you go into will have tons of gorgeous glassware. I'd say Seattle has more tiny, family-owned specialty boutiques than most places. Cute jewelry, greeting cards, lamps & furniture. shop shop shop.
A tattoo parlour called Johnny Ink is great. I'm purposely un-touched by the needle, but my friend has a pretty nice one.
I don't know if Fremont is truly the center of the Universe as its inhabitants humorously claim
but it is a colourful countercultural neighbourhood, with famous by now political public art - like Lenin's statue, the huge troll and the Waiting for the Interurban - , and lots of humour, plus some nice shops to buy presents for yourself and your eccentric friends
Fly a kite on the hill at Gasworks Park!
This 20 acre point on Lake Union was cleared in 1906 to construct a plant to manufacture gas from coal - later converted to crude oil. Import of natural gas in the 1950's made the plant obsolete. The city acquired the site for a park in 1962. The park was opened to the public in 1975. The boiler house has been converted to a Picnic Shelter with tables, fire grills and an open area. The former exhauster-compressor building, now a children's play barn, features a maze of brightly painted machinery.
A little walking trip to do while in Seattle. This part of town has numerous quirky things to see & some great shopping, cool bars & terrific eateries. Even if the locals are little uppity, go with your group & forget about them while you enjoy the interesting sights to see here! A great way to spend an afternoon if you're visiting Seattle. Love the path alongside the river (reminds me of Kelly Drive in Philly!)
This is another great statue in Fremont! The Locals dress them up to celebrate birthdays and such ... the Boy-Faced Dog is kinda creepy tho!
We conquered the Troll under the bridge. They say if you visit, please pick up some trash from around the area to keep the neighborhood clean.
The Troll sculpture at Fremont District. A little town with a 60's feel to it. Quaint shops and of course coffee houses.