Southern California’s on artisan Chocolate shop
Published in San Diego Woman Magazine March 2008
On Valentines Day, year after year, I go to University Town Center or Encinitas to the Chuao Chocolate Café to purchase chocolates for my honey. I join a line of caring and thoughtful men who gladly make the trek to please our valentines. I am the lone woman in line. I hem and haw and can’t decide what kinds of lush brown confections to put into my 9-piece collection. I don’t really do chocolate (yes, you read that right!) but my husband loves fine chocolate. (In case you’re wondering, he is NOT a chocoholic – so he tells me!) I enlist the help of other shoppers or the sales clerks to select the perfect combination. Nothing is too good for my man.
So why, if I’m not a chocolater am I writing an article on chocolate? Well, to help my fellow women, of course! I consider it my moral and civic duty to tell everyone about the best chocolate around.
I’m not able to wax eloquently about the fineries of chocolate but I am a qualified observer. But where would I find a person to try this chocolate for me? As it turns out, every woman I know loves chocolate. So I treated a friend to her first piece of Chuao chocolate and delighted in her reaction. She is a well versed chocolater. She knew the 3 steps to tasting chocolate:
1. Observe: Is it shiny? How does it break? Does it crumble or splinter? A clean break with a hard and clear crack sound is also a sign of excellent quality. Does it begin to melt within a few seconds of holding it? 100% cacao-based chocolates will melt at body temperature faster than engineered chocolate with stabilized fats.
2. Smell: Inhale the aroma; let your mind sense the flavors you’re about to taste.
3. Taste: Let the chocolate melt in your mouth. Allow it to cover your entire tongue. Allow the flavors to reveal themselves. Savor the flavors.
My friend savored the flavor, rolled her eyes in ecstasy. She said that the flavor kept changing, morphing and moved around her tongue. She said it had a lingering awesome flavor that stayed with her for a long time. After she came back to the living she said that this was the best chocolate she had ever tasted. She assured me that she was making the trek to UTC the following weekend.
Pronounced Chew-WOW, Chuao is Southern California’s only artisan chocolate shop. Named after the cacao producing region in Central Venezuela.
Venezuelan-born chocolatier Michael Antonorsi, used to be a biomedical engineer and decided to follow his passion. He left his engineering career behind and moved to Paris to study Pastry and Chocolaterie at the Ecole Lenotre. Two years later he graduated, joined with his brother; entrepreneur Richard Antonorsi and founded the company in San Diego County.
At Chuao chocolatier you won’t find your standard run-of-the-mill chocolates, you will find creative and unique combinations. Really unique. Bold, uncommon and assertive these flavors will delight your taste buds.
Here are just a few of their daily standards:
Gianduja- Hazelnut and almond paste enhanced with fresh vanilla and a hint of coffee, covered in Venezuelan milk chocolate.
Noccello- Roasted hazelnut buttercream covered with Venezuelan milk chocolate
Cacique- Rum flavored creamy dark chocolate with California raisins
Zen- ginger ganache infused with green tea and covered in dark Venezuelan chocolate
Framboise- Double layered bonbon, one of hazelnut almond praline and one of raspberry “Pate de Fruit” covered in dark Venezuelan chocolate
Picante- California raisin fondue and Napa Valley cabernet caramel, spiced up with pasilla chili and cayenne pepper covered in dark Venezuelan chocolate
Chevre- goat cheese, pear Williams and crushed black buttercream. This was all softened by the small, spicy raisins
Modena– strawberry caramel with balsamic vinegar from Modena
Candela- Hawaiian macadamia praline spiced with smoky chipotle covered in dark chocolate. Salty, crispy and with a soft spicy finish
Chuao Chocolate has partnered with San Diego Natural History Museum to create a unique chocolate assortment to mark the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit.
Chocolatier Michael was inspired by the flavors, location and the whole Dead Sea Scrolls experience. He has created chocolates that are most likely different than any chocolate you’ve ever tasted. In his “Flavors of the Region” boxed assortment you’ll enjoy 3 each of:
Qumran-(named after the settlement where the Dead Sea Scrolls were originally found). This bonbon is rosemary infused salt butter caramel inside a milk chocolate. Rosemary is indigenous to the area and the salt refers to the salt of the Dead Sea.
Song of the Desert is a prickly pear/tahini delicacy inside dark chocolate. These flavors are popular in Middle Eastern cuisine.
Land of Milk and Honey is named after the nickname for Israel.This bonbon features a pistachio-honey crunch inside dark chocolate. Pistachios are a popular crop from the Middle East.
Museum visitors can currently buy this assortment at the Museum Store. Beginning in May 2007 you will be able to purchase these at their Chocolate cafes around town.
Here’s a great idea for someone special: a Gift Box including the DVD Science of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Chuao “Flavors of the Region” chocolate box and a box of White Tea Berry flavored tea from Israel. You could even include a ticket (or two) to the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit and have a delightful gift.
Chuao Chocolatier Cafes are in La Jolla, Del Mar, Encinitas, Carlsbad and Irvine. For more information visit: www chuaochocolatier.com.
Take my word for it…. No, don’t take my word for it, go by and taste these delights for yourself.