By Jo Rittey


I’m not really a chocolate person. I know the reaction this engenders. What? Not. A. Chocolate. Person. Yeah right. Because everyone loves chocolate. Don’t they? There is a whole mythology, as well as a grain of truth, around chocolate’s amino acids. These little fellas help the brain produce serotonin whose job it is to produce feelings of happiness. Those who partake are immediately transported into a beatific state that makes break-ups, failed exams, bad hair days and any kind of existential angst disappear. A. Mazing.


I appreciate this power. I accept that these are real experiences for people. That’s great. I’m just not really a chocolate person. I always feel slightly dissatisfied. It sticks on my tongue. It’s too rich. And other first world problems.


Enter Pana Chocolate. Please reread the latter three words with some kind of fanfare soundtrack. Because really. This stuff is good.


From the moment of glimpsing it, it’s as though the chocolate takes you by the hand and says, please, come with me on this little journey of discovery. You’ll like it. I know you’ve been burned before, but we’re going to be ok.


The packaging is all recycled brown cardboard and nice font. It’s open and upfront. You’re getting 60% raw, organic, handmade chocolate. Inside the cardboard is a lovely foil-lined chocolate brown wrapper. I had a Willy Wonka moment as I unwrapped it. Instead of a golden ticket, there was a slab of chocolate. A 45g slab, and yes I’m going to say it, of bliss.


This is good chocolate. It’s dark, but not cloying. It’s…and here I really want to use the word unctuous, but I’ve read that food writers overuse it and no one really wants food to be compared to ointment…smooth and thick and mousse-like, in the sense that it’s earthy and rich and yet not overwhelming.


Pana Chocolate is one man’s gift to the world. In his desire to create a chocolate that was lovingly made, richly textured and also healthy, Pana Barbounis has sourced beautiful raw organic ingredients and creates his Pana Chocolate range in our part of the world: Richmond, Melbourne. Somehow that makes it even better. And there are loads of stockists all over the place.


There are no refined sugars, no dairy, no soy. The chocolate is gluten free, handmade and really really good.


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