I have never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day, but I will say the one thing I love about the occasion is the licence to enjoy CHOCOLATE with reckless abandon. My co-workers all know that at around 4:00 I must nosh on a single small bite of chocolate. You could set your watch to my craving, and it is the one thing I would really have a hard time giving up. For my daily fix, any old chocolate would do, my favorite being a Hershey’s nuggets milk chocolate with almonds and toffee, quickly followed by a miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
When I really want to indulge in fine chocolate (which is always paired with a nice glass of champagne), we splurge on these utterly magnificent chocolates.
This was the chocolatier that introduced me to artisan chocolate. Years ago my cousin suggested I try their chocolates when I was looking for a vendor for my wedding favors. We gave our guests the “Ginger Heart”, which bears a symbolic resemblance to Jim Dine’s “Blue Clamp” at SF MOMA (MOMA will forever hold a special place in the hearts of my husband and I).
I ADORE their chocolate to this day. They make an amazing salted caramel and their champagne truffles are divine. Michael and his wife Jacky are truly passionate about what they do and the passion comes through in the chocolate they produce (they have a great blog too). http://www.recchiuti.com/index.html
John Kelly Chocolates
Love Truffles? Fiend for Fudge? Let me introduce you to John Kelly. This Hollywood chocolatier located just off Sunset specializes in “Truffle Fudge”, these heavenly creamy, bars that are meant to slice and share. Their chocolate is truly decadent. My favorites are the vanilla with walnuts and their Dark Chocolate with French Gray Sea Salt. We enjoyed their chocolates for New Years and they were a hit! http://www.johnkellychocolates.com/index.php
I don’t think a poor chocolatier exists in Paris, but I will say I was smitten by this shop in the 1st arrondissement on la rue St Honoré.
While the chocolates were sublime (my favorite being the pure Hazelnut Praline), I adored their macarons and pates de fruits. In early 2010 they opened a storefront on 5th Ave in NYC. http://www.chocolatmichelcluizel.com/francais/index.php
Mast Brothers Chocolate
Speaking of New York, specifically Brooklyn, THIS shop is on my radar for my next trip back east (which is hopefully for the Armory show-I’m trying to manifest this trip for real). The Mast Brothers specialize in craft chocolates. I stumbled upon their site after seeing an amazing blog post by Garance Dore, but it’s this purely epic video that crystallizes the transcendent properties of the cocoa bean.
What all of these chocolatiers have in common is a clear passion for producing quality product and they each have such a unique artistic point of view too that they have transformed the confection to an art form. When you can be both a feast for the eyes and palate, that is a beautiful combination!
What about you dear readers? If you love chocolate as much as I do and have a fave, let me know!