Tuesday, November 16, 2010


to the extent i thought about it before i left, i probably assumed that my chocolate habit would have to take a brief hiatus while i was away in kazakhstan. little did i know that the hiatus would have been far from brief, but luckily it is very easy to get good chocolate here than i realized. before i came here, i had no idea that russia has a fairly developed high-end chocolate industry and that the kazakhs have done a good job at emulating them.

Kazakhstan Bar

the best buy for chocolate here is the kazakhstan bar. i was initially fooled by its touristy wrapper into thinking that it would be bad. when we first arrived, the packaging looked just like the Kazakhstani flag, only with “Казахстан” written across the bottom center in russian. then in late spring the sun and bird emblem in the center was replaced by the cross-hatch in a circle that is used to represent a yurt, and “Kazakhstan” (in english) replaced the russian. i’m not sure if the language change was an effort to reach beyond the russian market to the wider world. marketing decisions aside, the chocolate is pretty good dark chocolate. it’s also fairly cheap and is on sale almost everywhere i look in this country. i've consumed more kazakhstan bars than anything else in the past year.

Astana Bar

more pricey is the gold-wrapped astana bar. the astana bar is the upscale version of the kazakhstan bar (both are produced by the same company, раххат (“rakhat”)1) and it is twice as expensive, harder to find and also very very good dark chocolate (75% cacao). and it’s yet another example of how propaganda promoting kazakhstan’s new capital has crept into virtually every facet of life here.

Alenka Bar

there’s also a wide variety of russian chocolate available. the one i like best is the Алёнка (“alenka”) bar, which mrs. noz and i generally refer to as the “scary baby bar”. For some reason, it’s really hard to find the dark chocolate version of scary baby chocolate here in taraz. but the milk chocolate with almonds can also do the trick.

1- rakhat's slogan: "with us more tasty!"