Saturday, February 5, 2011

Seattle: Three Days, Three Chocolate Shops

As I’ve mentioned on several occasions, I travel fairly extensively for work. Why do you care? Because it means that I often find neat little chocolate shops in cities throughout the country, can sample new chocolates, and then let you know which ones are worth the effort and money.

Last week was yet another travel week, and I spent it in Seattle. Though I spent most of my waking hours in a meeting room engaging in fascinating discussions on the future of standards for probabilistic risk assessments at nuclear power plants, I did get a few moments after hours to scope out some local shops that had been recommended by Eagranie, who lives in nearby Vancouver. First on the agenda was Chocolate Box.

This shop offers a wide variety of chocolates from around the U.S. and the world, but focuses on local chocolate makers, such as Fran’s Chocolates.

They offered the opportunity to hand-select truffles from a variety of chocolatiers in the area, which was a nice feature.

In the end, I elected to pick up two bars from Forte Artisan Chocolates, which is based out of Mount Vernon, WA, and two bars from Lesley’s Chocolates, which is based out of Bellevue, WA. I also got a pre-packaged box of caramels from Oh! Chocolate, which is made in Mercer Island, WA.

Why not any Fran’s given its fame? Why, because there was a standalone Fran’s store just blocks away.

The minute I walked in, they offered me a delightful chocolate-covered sea salt caramel to sample. Now this is my kind of store. As if the endless displays of caramels and truffles wouldn’t have won me over anyway.

Having been impressed with the sample caramel, I picked up a box of mixed caramels, as well as almond and macadamia caramel-based treats and a small box of grey salt chocolate thins.

As exciting as caramels and truffles can be, plain chocolate bars can do a better job of showcasing the chocolate itself, and who better to accomplish such a task than a bean-to-bar chocolate maker such as Claudio Corallo.

Unfortunately, the first time I went to their shop, I found this note.

Que? Denying me chocolate? Not cool. But I had a chance to stop by the next night, and found this impressive tasting setup inside.

They offered several intriguing chocolates, including a very peppery dark chocolate bar and cocoa-covered pink peppercorns. Unusual offerings aside, I liked their plain 75% cocoa dark chocolate the best, and picked up a box of napolitains of that variety.

I’m sure I missed some wonderful shops – namely, I had no chance to take a Theo factory tour. But there’s only so much time during business trips, and I think I came back to DC with a nice variety of treats and bars to review.

Out of all the chocolate I brought back, what do you want to see reviewed first?

12 comments:

  1. Oh wow! Everything looks good! I'd like to see a review of some of the Fran's chocolates first though! =D

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  2. Me too!
    Fran's Macadamia Gold Bar is a longtime favorite that, living abroad, I'm not able to try.
    I'm very curious about Claudio Corallo, but reviewing that is more "demanding", I guess.
    Nice collection, enjoy!

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  3. I've always wanted to go to Seattle! My viola was made there, so I'd like to meet my makers (har), but have also heard it's a beautiful place and a great food town. I'm curious about the bean-to-bar maker!

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  4. The Claudio Corallo chocoaltes, as that's the store I'd most love to visit myself! (I do remember loving Fran's salted caramels when Iw as in the States - and that was before the Obama furore around them too!)

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  5. I'm so into salted chocolates right now but have never tried salted caramel.

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  6. @Anonymous The gold bars looked really intriguing. I was tempted to get more, but I only had so much suitcase space.

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  7. @Jessica @ bake me away! Woah, very cool! You should totally go. I went to the factory where my harp was made and met the guy who carved the column.

    Also, now you know where to get chocolate while there.

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  8. @Hannah Can you get Corallo in Australia? I think they distribute internationally.

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  9. @Erin (Travel, Eat, Repeat) You MUST change that, Erin! Salted caramel is amazing. And I am also on a salt-chocolate kick lately. Love making chocolate shortbread with coarse sea salt - yum!

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  10. HA! You were in my stomping grounds! Cool!!! I need to go check those places out soon! THANKS!

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  11. @Laura @ GotChocolate I was! And I highly suggest Corallo - they are really into the quality of their cocoa source.

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