Below is a summary of findings from a recent chocolate field trip to Asheville, North Carolina.
Asheville's downtown area has an active street life. I'd been told it was a great food and art city, and that seemed true. There were healthy cafes and restaurants, as well as breweries and pubs that reminded me of a mix of Portland, OR, Austin, TX, and Santa Cruz, CA—but with a relaxed, Southern college town spin.
Below is a partial list of places I visited:
French Broad Chocolates
I visited the French Broad Chocolates Chocolate Lounge and Chocolate + Milk retail location (where they sell a variety of their bars including their own). I was also able to pick up a dark bar from Videri (Raleigh, NC), and a Toasted Sesame bar from Woodblock Chocolate (Portland, OR), as well as chocolate covered caramels, ice cream, and a single origin Nicaragua bar made by French Broad Chocolates.
Later this week, I'll be featuring interviews with co-founder, Dan Rattigan, as well as one of their cacao suppliers (Cacao Bisiesto) in Nicaragua.
Chocolate Fetish offered a variety of truffles, confections and some holiday-themed and other novelty chocolate sculptures. I picked up several, including a Cashew Turtle that I'll be featuring later today as part of Cashew Theme Week. Thank you to Anna for her help.
Unique flavor combinations included the company's "Blossom" chocolate (flavored with saffron, lemon and ginger).
Also, I saw what looked to be a chocolate cake (really a hollow chocolate shell) filled with small treats. Each "cake" comes with a hammer so you can put it on a plate and break it open to enjoy the treats inside—pinata style. And the store had a whole shelf dedicated to high-heeled shoes, rendered in chocolate.
Another interesting downtown Asheville chocolatier was Chocolate Gems. I sampled a Juniper Berry truffle that was fresh, balanced and flavorful, and brought home a few other items to try. Thanks to Isabel for her help.
They also offered some sculpted chocolate novelty items, such as a beautifully rendered cacao pod. The kitchen set caught my eye (that included a chocolate saucepan with lid).
Black Mountain Chocolate
Black Mountain Chocolate (formerly just outside of Asheville) moved to Winston Salem, NC. Although quite a few places in downtown Asheville seemed to carry their bars. I bought one of their Sea Salt bars at Green Sage Cafe (downtown Asheville location).