Truffles Save

Legacy Chocolates, the newest of the St. Paul chocolatiers, proposes that great taste can heal us all

Legacy Chocolates
2042 Marshall Ave., St. Paul
544 S. Broadway,
Menomonie, Wisconsin


Like most of the first organic farmers in southwestern Wisconsin, Micheal Roberts has a love of his land that attaches to much more than the land: He loves the worms that dance between the roots of prairie sweet-broom; he loves the meadowlarks catching caterpillars in the apple-scented twilight; he loves the red foxes hunting meadow voles in the quack grass; and he especially loves the invisible wee beasties that live throughout the soil and make it all possible. It is a deep love, and even sometimes a painful love, when he considers that his beloved might be harmed some day, in the days or centuries after his death.

Consequently, he is now selling chocolate truffles in the middle of the city.

Legacy chocolates: A chunk of homemade heaven
Bill Kelley
Legacy chocolates: A chunk of homemade heaven

Location Info


Legacy Chocolates

2042 Marshall Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55104

Category: Restaurant > Dessert

Region: Macalester/Groveland

How's that?

Well, it's like this: Like most of the founding fathers of organic agriculture around here, Roberts found himself 30 years into an organic life, and just about out of his mind with disappointment about the success of "organics." He's wildly dismayed about how much of it has been taken over by big agriculture (Dole organics, anyone?); he's saddened that the very word "organic" seems, to a younger generation, to mean something between "gourmet" and "trendy"; he's bereft that the dreams he and his generation poured themselves into seem to have wafted away on commercial breezes. Dreams like the one where our rivers wouldn't catch fire, that arsenic wouldn't be fed to chickens, that a greater consciousness of the earth as a thing to be nurtured and not a resource to be exploited would take hold.

But, here's where Roberts diverges from the other counterculture folks who despair of Whole Foods Dream Dilution: He has a background in pastry and chocolate (he was part of the original crew working at Lake Pepin's Harbor View Café) and is an essential optimist. So when, in his reading, he found what he thinks is the real answer to saving the planet, he dropped everything and got to rolling truffles.

What is that answer? Here it is, for no added cost this week in your free newspaper, the key to saving the world: perennial agriculture.

Huh? Okay. A perennial is a plant that lives a long time; it goes quiet in the winter and comes back in the spring. Every tree on your block, any rosebush your grandmother tended for 40 years, every bushy rhubarb patch you can't kill with an axe, that's a perennial. Annuals are anything that has to be planted every single year, again and again, by seed, like corn, wheat, marigolds, and such. The problem is that when annual plants are planted en masse by man they are done so by tillage; that is, by breaking the top crust of hundreds of continuous acres and plying them with tractors, plows, combines, sprayers, spreaders, and all the various things that open up the earth and expose the wee beasties below to sun and rain and strange chemicals. This tends to change and kill almost everything down there. This means that, eventually, in this part of the world, everything can run downhill with the next big rain, ending up in the Mississippi and later the Gulf of Mexico.

Micheal Roberts (who does indeed spell his first name in an unusual way) has concluded that tillage and annual agriculture are destroying our land and endangering all of the beings that call it home, from the most microscopic ones that live on the roots of prairie sweet-broom to the most fashionable ones who knot Hermès scarves around their pretty throats while they wonder what hostess gift to bring. Luckily, the solution to saving the earth is deliciously easy: All that the pretty girls in the big cities have to do to save the pretty far-flung meadows with their pretty meadowlarks is to eat the finest truffles. And, to a lesser extent, enjoy the finest chocolate sauce, cocoa, coffee that was roasted yesterday, and grass-fed beef.


Well, first, Roberts would have you know that the finest chocolate, which represents somewhere around 5 percent or less of the world's harvest, is a variety called Criollo, a shade-grown perennial that fetches a premium price, thus allowing Criollo chocolate farmers to earn a living from the stuff and avoid tilling their soils. (The opposite happens with plantation-raised Forastero chocolate, the lesser stuff that goes into most of the world's chocolate bars, which is tilled in the sunshine, fetches a terrible price, and is generally speeding things to heck in a hen-basket.)

Meanwhile, Criollo chocolate was the food of Aztec warriors, and, if you read European newspapers, is lately touted to be nature's perfect food. It's full of vitamins, minerals, iron, antioxidants, and natural antidepressants. It lowers blood pressure, improves your cholesterol profile, boosts the immune system, makes your brain bubble with endorphins, and provides about a hundred reasons to be eaten on airplanes, including that it might just be an aphrodisiac, may prevent deep-vein thrombosis on long-haul flights, and, even--heavens!--acts as an antibacterial agent to inhibit tooth decay. And this is chocolate we're talking about, not margarine, and not even the benefits of replacing your loved ones with heaping piles of steamed kale.

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