Do you remember how one year ago, I expeditioned off to the Great American South, where I visited an abandoned playground, chilled out with sad hippies in a tree-fort hostel, ran out of water in the Everglades (Runs Out Of Water should be my middle name), chased a snake in a forest that was dynamited, and, oh yeah, bought a heck of a lot of chocolate from the French Broad Chocolate Lounge in Asheville, North Carolina?
Many of you probably don’t remember, because you weren’t reading this blog at that time. So to recap, here are three of my favorite photos from the trip, illustrating key take-home points.
Seneca Rocks, West Virginia. Place of fog, rain, and beauty, we had a campground overlooking the area entirely to ourselves.
Sanibel Island, Florida. Place of much seashell collecting, I paused here for some self-reflection and a bit of Florida skyscraper skyline-hating, and I also lost a pair of earrings.
French Broad Chocolate Lounge, Asheville, NC. Place of chocolate. Obviously.
Okay, so that last picture isn’t really one of my favorites, but it is a segue into the focus of this post. I have recently learned that there are benefits to the Facebook that I so long eschewed. Benefits like winning a 12-piece set of delicious truffles and caramels from the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, and having it shipped speedily to your door in a giant box filled with biodegradable (and reusable) chill packs and foam packing material made from corn.
I would expect no less from the hip folk of Asheville.
I’ve talked about a fair number of delicious bonbons on this blog, from Black Dinah Chocolatiers in Maine, to B.T. McElrath in Minneapolis, to Dancing Lion in New Hampshire. And while I maintain that Dancing Lion has the most artistic and appealing creations to date, French Broad Chocolates is clearly on the road to greatness.
Established in 2007, many of their truffles are variations on a familiar theme. Lavender, maple, and strawberry balsamic are all repeat creations that can be found behind the counter of any respected chocolatier. But unlike many of the aforementioned respected chocolatiers, French Broad makes truly exceptional products, and in addition to standard fare has some exciting offerings: think pomegranate ginger (which sparkled in my mouth with bright red fruit notes), or fig & port, or one of their six fantastic salted caramels.
As a testament to the tastiness of their chocolate, I will go so far as to say that I really liked their white jasmine truffle, made with jasmine green tea and local wildflower honey – it’s not everyday that I meet a white chocolate I like. In fact, it’s everyday that I spend my time dissing white chocolate.
And while I also enjoyed the fresh raspberry (dusted with pretty pink powdered raspberry), vanilla bourbon (made with vanilla beans and Knob Creek bourbon, it was one of the better liqueur-based ganaches I’ve tried), and indian kulfi (comprised of rose, pistachio and cardamon flavors), my heart belonged to the salted caramels.
The lavender honey caramel was made with local lavender and honey, and was sprinkled with lavender salt. The cashew honey caramel came with – spoiler alert – toasted organic cashews. And the bonbon that stole the show was the seductive sorghum caramel, a milk chocolate dome filled with sorghum molasses-based caramel: it was dark, rich, nutty, and incredibly enticing.
The bonbons from French Broad Chocolates were well-made. None of the truffles I tried had ganache that pulled away from the outer shell. None of the coatings were dry or crumbly, and none of the caramels had hardened or become difficult to eat. Thank you to the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, for teaching me the delicious lesson that your shop is about much more than the craft chocolate bars you stock out front.
10 S Lexington Ave
And coming soon….
21 Buxton Ave
Grand opening on Friday June 29th from 11h00-17h00. I wish I could be there…