I mentioned awhile back that at work we have this marvelous institution called “pop-up shop” at work where (usually) local, small businesses display their wares for purchase. It’s a tremendously convenient way to be exposed to various products and local businesses and it’s from the pop-up shops that I’ve discovered Three Babes Bakeshop, Bootleg Creamery and now Recchiuti Chocolates, an artisan chocolatier from San Francisco.
I knew of Recchiuti Chocolates from years ago because its proprietor, Michael Recchiuti was the graduation speaker at the Culinary Institute of America in St Helena when I graduated with my certification in Baking and Pastry Arts. They were well known locally for their homemade marshmallows but I’ve never tried them since I don’t like marshmallows. Since then, however, they appear to have expanded their product line tremendously and they’re just as well known for high end chocolates. I’ve visited their store at the Ferry Building in San Francisco although I don’t remember buying anything then. Strange as this might sound, considering I probably have chocolate running through my veins, I don’t often indulge in high end chocolate. One little piece typically packs more calorie punch than, say, a comparable-size brownie. Given the choice, I probably consume the same amount of calories but in a large portion in the form of a brownie. Yeah, I’m greedy like that.
For this pop-up shop visit though, when I wandered in, one of the women manning the shop patiently answered all of my questions as I snapped pictures of their displays, mostly boxes of chocolates since it was so close to Valentine’s Day. They had the smaller boxes of 9 chocolates each ($26 a box) and larger boxes (forgot their price but much more expensive). She gave me a burnt caramel enrobed in dark chocolate to try and confided the women go for the smaller boxes while the guys buy the larger boxes. I surmised the women were buying for themselves (enforced portion control) and the guys were buying for the women (you can make a much grander gesture with a big box of chocolates over a small one). Smart guys.
The burnt caramel sample she gave me was pretty good but I confess my palate isn’t so refined that I went into chocolate stratosphere. I can tell the difference between bad chocolate, good chocolate and even better chocolate. But whether I can taste the difference between great chocolate and spectacular chocolate is hit or miss, especially when it comes to dark chocolate since I’m more of a milk chocolate aficionado. Regardless, I bought their milk chocolate assortment in the 9-piece box (Sepia); no grand gestures needed for myself when I just wanted to try it.
Whenever I have a box of chocolate, whether I receive it as a gift or buy one for myself, I typically just go for the flavors I like and disregard/give away the rest. Based on the descriptions the lady gave me, I figured I would only like about 4-5 chocolates in the 9-piece box since the others were tea-flavored and I don’t like tea. But I was committed to all 9 pieces so I could properly evaluate the Sepia box. Which is another reason there’s some time between when I first bought the box and when I finished it. I had a dietary budget of no more than 1 chocolate per day so it took 9 days to evaluate all of the Sepia. I was originally committed to writing detailed notes about what I thought about each flavor. Now that I've finished them all (it took more than 9 days since I forgot to eat one every day), I'm backing off from that because, in all honesty, my taste buds are not that refined when it comes to high end chocolate. I know, I'm disappointed in me too. But my tastes are very simple and some of the different infusions did nothing for me and even the ones I liked I don't know that I thought were uber-special, more from the lack of refinement in my chocolate palate than anything to do with the high end chocolates themselves. I liked the caramel and the hazelnut the best. I liked the tea-infused ones the least. And that's about all I can say.
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Star Anise & Pink Peppercorn: star anise and pink peppercorn infusion blended with milk and dark chocolate