When I was a little girl and Valentine’s Day came around my father would come home with heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. My mother would receive the larger one and I the smaller one. For several days after I would carefully open my box and select a treat.
I do have a penchant for sweet things and the rich velvety taste of a fine chocolate is something to be savored. Culpeper has its own resident Frenchman and chocolate connoisseur in the form of Marc Ast who presides over cases of some of the world’s best chocolate and, what a gift, you can find him on Davis Street.
Marc has been touting Neuhaus chocolates for years. I’ve tasted a few and they are delectable. He recently shared with me that he isn’t alone in his assessment of these Belgian delicacies. Bloomberg assigned their food editor, Kate Krader, to try some of the best chocolates in the world. She came up with a fair list but coming in at number one was Neuhaus. To keep things as fair as possible she tasted dark chocolate ganache truffles from companies that ship across the United States and some globally. Where at all possible, she kept her choices unadorned – no infusions, no extra flavors, no nuts – we’re talking about a pure chocolate competition.
According to the Bloomberg article, Krader’s conclusions are based on her own, explicitly biased preferences. “I have a sweet tooth, so I don’t always like the bitter chocolates that go up to astronomically high cocoa amounts,” she said. “Sometimes chocolate can be too intensely chocolate.” The truffles were graded on taste, aesthetic, and overall presentation.
Neuhaus was her absolute favorite.
“Oh, my God,” she said. “I feel like I just fell into a pool of chocolate.”
“A chocolate like this makes you realize how many old chocolates you’ve eaten in your life,” she said. “And how many mediocre ones.”
While receiving a box of chocolates from the Frenchman’s Corner for Valentine’s Day would melt any girl’s heart, a single chocolate will do and there are many to choose from.
Truffles are a particular favorite with their delicate outer coating giving way to a luscious mousse filling.
Marc’s love affair with chocolate is no secret and he’ll gladly share his expertise on the subject while tempting you to try any of his heavenly confections. Valentine’s Day is next week and whether you’re the guy or the gal, a gift of fine chocolates says, “I love you.”