I am a sucker for a pretty package, and have been known to buy things I don’t want, need, or even like because of it. And if my wasteful consumerism can teach us anything; it is that, what is on the outside sometimes is as important as what is on the inside. It’s about your priorities.
Being a food blogger means my friends bring me to places they like. This is in hopes that I will also like them, and it ends in a good review for the restaurant. For them the relief comes when I agree that I liked the place too. Today I was at ” Gem Chocolates”. I don’t like chocolate. This wasn’t a good start.
The shoppe is fairly new; as told by its sleek, un-scuffed white counters and it crisp blue paint job. The decor is minimal. A polished 3D sign declaring their name, blown up photos of their chocolates, and framed awards proudly displaying their accomplishments. Intermingled in this was your usual Halloween dollar store decorations. Shame, as it brought down the obvious value of the sleek shoppe. Even though the spiders, witches, a webs were were both day and month appropriate.
Tonight it was just the owner in. He stood behind the counter engaged in busy work until we walked up to his counter. Immediately he directed his full attention to us. Everything was pretty self explanatory. A tight selection of chocolates sold by the drop, with a colourful bins of gelato and sorbeto to the left of them. Each item came with a sign detailing its name and a rundown of its ingredients. Half the fun is pressing your face against the glass and going through them all. I choose by look, my guest choose by flavour.
There were over 25 varieties of chocolate, some sold individually and others prepackaged for travel. Of the selection a few were spray painted with edible colours and others speckled with pastel dots. This helped to differentiate one from the other, giving the overall experience a boutique feel. A few flavours came in more than one look. This increased their appeal as they were arranged behind the glass in a alternating pattern. This caught my eye and took my money, as they made everything jump out around them as well.
As I mentioned, I am not a fan of chocolate. So therefore I didn’t really enjoy any of these. I found them either too sweet, or that you couldn’t make out what was actually in your taste. What is the point of getting a passionfruit caramel when you can’t taste either caramel or passionfruit as it melts on your tongue. We selected six balls to go.
“Matcha”, Japanese matcha tea in a white ganache.
“Calypso”, a lime and coconut infusion in a white ganache. It didn’t look like white chocolate, despite its convincing name and name card suggesting otherwise.
The “Caramel Creme” won the top luxury caramel award 2012 , for best flavour and texture. This caramel got his kick from the sea salt sprinkled on top.
“Abricot”, apricot and vanilla in a white ganache.
“Lai Chi” lychee infusion in a white ganache.
One of their other award winning chocolate was the “Berry Blue”. It won silver in the International chocolate awards. This was for the filled chocolates-flavoured dark, and flavoured dark ganaches categories. The “Berry blue” is rooibos and blueberry mix in a milk ganache. Side note, who knew there were such specific awards being given out? Who knew chocolates could even win awards?
Other fun chocolates included a cardamom and vanilla in a dark ganache, a lemon and lime infusion, and a mint flavour made with real crushed up pieces of mint leaves.
And if all that is not enough one-of-a- kind uniqueness for you, for $40 you can customize your own piece of chocolate. This price is not including the actual cost of the chocolate itself. The above fee is the printing and designing cost attached to the labour needed to create a program that prints anything onto a small piece of chocolate, including pictures. Though who wants their face on a chocolate?
The owner clearly loved his product and was proud of his accomplishments. His excitement over chocolate was easily transferred on to us. He was open and shared with us the story behind his soon to be famous, ” lost and found” chocolate. This was an unflavoured dark ganache. Fortunado No. 4, 68%, Peru. The story as told by him, and quickly texted on to the notes app of my iphone by me. This ancient chocolate was first discovered in 1903, many years ago. It has the lowest bitterness of all chocolate, when compared naturally. We had a sample of it unflavoured. What you picked out of it depended on your pallet and it’s sensitivity. Fruit, nuts, spices, it was always a different after taste with this one. So unique was this find that it won three gold medals in California for its showing. What a great back story. We were hooked and he graciously gave us a sneak peak of what would be the wrapping to his new “Lost & Found” bar. It was snazzy in brown and lime green. Lost on the wrapper, found on the chocolate.
Would I come back? – No. As I am not a chocolate connoisseur nor am I actually a fan. I don’t like how sweet chocolate can be, and don’t find anything incredibly satisfying in the aroma or flavouring of chocolate. It is lost on me.
Would I recommend it? – Yes. Unique chocolate combinations that I have never heard of, trapped into bite sized wonders. Also, this is the only place I know that customizes chocolate from sayings and initials to symbols and portraits. And if you didn’t actually come in wanting chocolate, enjoy one of their caffeinated beverages or ice creamed flavoured desserts. Don’t deny your cravings.