Portland loves to squeeze mini “restaurants” into food carts. So why not carve out space inside an artisan fro-yo shop for all the craft chocolate makers and confectioners you love? Give it a name, and boom! A little business is born. And that, in a hazelnut shell, is Elizabeth Nathan’s plan on Thursday, June 29, when the name Little Nib will be etched on the window of the Eb & Bean location at 3040 SE Division. (This is the second outpost of Nathan’s experimental, naturalist voyage to the frozen yogurt frontier—low-sugar, locally sourced, made from organic dairy and artistically swirled with toppings harvested from local fruit, bakery cookies, and candies.)
To start, Little Nib will stock roughly 14 local chocolates and three candy makers. Some of the options (Pinkleton’s Curious Caramel Corn; Oregon Bark) already appear in Eb & Bean’s eye-popping topping selection. While substantial local chocolate collections already appear at downtown’s Cacao and Northwest Portland’s The Meadow, Little Nib could be a convenient one-stop, east-side candy shop, depending how deep Nathan goes into each brand. I’m happy to see she’s carrying Batch PDX Twicks Bars, not easy to find and a standout in PoMo’s Ultimate Portland Chocolate Box.
Nathan is a bona fide sweet lover. She studied pastry at Paris’ Bellouet Conseil and externed with French ice cream maven Martine Lambert. Not long after moving to Portland in 2014, she opened Eb & Bean at 1425 NE Broadway. Little Nib, she says, is a a natural extension of Eb & Bean. “I love the craft and quality of each of these makers,” she says. “But I also like how each one expresses a point of view, from brainy single origin (Creo, Woodblock, Spencer, Map) to whimsical types (Quin Candy, Only Child) to hippie (Lillie Belle) to experimental (Cocanu, Xocolatl de David).”
Right now, Spencer Chocolate single origin bars are lighting up her radar. “It’s a real find,” she says, recommended by the owner of respected national distributor Chocosphere. She’s also hot on Cocanu’s new coffee-fueled Bruno bar. Personally, I have my eye on Oregon Bark’s new Hazel Jones bar, blending flaky hazelnut butter and rosemary candy enrobed in award-winning TCHO chocolate. Confides Nathan: “It just happens to be vegan, too.” Spoken like a true Portland chocolate shop owner.