I just finished reading The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand this past weekend, and there was so much lovely writing about chocolates in the book (as well as a yummy hero). The characters discuss their favorite chocolates and there is a list of high-end chocolate makers at the end; this led me into a discussion with hubby about the best chocolate we ever had. It was a tough call.
The first really wonderful chocolates we ever discovered (something other than dime store and grocery store) might be pedestrian by Parisian standards, but as a kid, the Fanny Farmer in town was the must-shop for holidays and special treats. It was mostly milk chocolate back then, as the healthy benefits of dark and exotic chocolates weren’t well known (at least in the US). I still remember walking into that shop and picking out favorites like pecan turtles and chocolate caramels.
Then, as an adult, Godiva was the first really high-end chocolate that we indulged in, though here in Syracuse, we have two very good local chocolate stores as well — Speach Chocolate and Hercules Chocolate, both holiday-musts for their chocolate covered potato chips and other goodies (and they have all manner of dark chocolate — my favorite — we almost never eat milk chocolate any more).
As we traveled, we discovered a shop named Vosages in Chicago — that was truly an eye-opener. Chocolate with curry, hot pepper, and other spices and exotic ingredients were a total surprise. The grade of chocolate was definitely a step above what we had known so far, as well. We bought several to bring back — and then, in Wegmans, found the same Vosages bars for sale. Both a perk and a minus, in a way. Not as exotic as we thought, but still delicious.
In San Francisco, we visited Ghiradelli, of course, who makes the bittersweet chips that are the only ones I use in baking. We enjoyed some of their local chocolate, and though I can’t say it’s the best chocolate I ever had, it certainly was good.
In New York City, we have visited enough local shops and bakeries to make it confusing… we can’t actually remember any single, distinct chocolate experience in the city (except for some amazing cakes in Little Italy), but that means on the next trip, it will be a priority (including finding the shops in Florand’s book!).
But in Boston. . .we discovered Max Brenner’s. Chocolate paradise. I don’t know if they make their own chocolate, but they have certainly created some of the most creative chocolate combinations I’ve ever come across. At Brenner’s, you can have chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as dessert and drinks. You can spend hours in their chocolate shop. They espouse the creation of a “chocolate culture” that is “about more than just taste.” Indeed, walking inside is like walking into a world of chocolate. The dessert, breakfast and martini I had there — all chocolate based, of course — were all stunning (and pricey), but worth it. It might not have been the best single chocolate I’ve had, but it definitely is the most memorable chocolate experience.
Recently, my husband, who travels several weeks out of the year, started finding chocolates for me on his trips and bringing them home — it’s become something of a tradition. He knows he’s on the hook now. He brought me a hazelnut candybar from Frankfurt, Germany, and it was good — a lot like our Kit-Kats, but with nuts. Then, another time, from San Francisco, some salted caramels, each with a different kind of salt — Pink Himalayan or Black Volcanic, and those were wonderful. Less wonderful, some chocolate macaroons from NYC, one of which was flavored with rose water — it was like smelling and tasting roses at the same time, with chocolate texture, producing a less than ideal sensory experience. (No more floral chocolates for me.) But overall, he’s brought home some very tasty chocolates. Hubby is also my favorite chocolatier. He makes salted caramels and chocolate-covered orange peels every Christmas that I think are the absolute best — very good tasting, but the fact that he makes them himself is extra special.
Among all of these, there have been some incredible chocolates, some so-so chocolates, and sometimes my favorite chocolate can depend on the day. When I really need it, a good ol’ Boyer’s Candy Mallo Cup is my hands down favorite and not even the best European chocolate could ever take its place. I find Lindt white chocolate truffles addicting (so much so I won’t buy them) and equally adore a cheap, boxed dark-chocolate covered cherry (Though Godiva makes a wonderful higher-end chocolate covered cherry cordial as well). Dove Dark Chocolate Almond bites are what fill the daily bowl we keep in the dining room for our after-dinner treat.
So what is the best chocolate you ever had? I’m still waiting to find one I could say was better than all the others, but I suspect it will take a long time and will be a very pleasurable journey. Be sure to comment and enter the giveaway as much as you can to have a chance to win a Kindle Paperwhite and other prizes that will be given away at the end of the 12 days! My contribution to the giveaway is a mini 2014 Chocolate themed calendar and a signed copy of my Blaze Unforgettable.
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