If you are going to be absent from your blog for a while, you really should have a good excuse. Can I just say one word in my defense?
As in…fully involved…grownup…chocolate.
I’ve been working a temporary Christmas job at The Chocolate Bark Company here in Sarasota, Florida, and can I just say it’s pretty much heaven? With more than 50 generous 6-ounce barks, essentially large chocolate bars, this is a no brainer for delectable treats. Dark chocolate with cranberries and walnuts, or pumpkin praline seeds, or sea salt and caramel. And that’s just for starters. There are also the truffles, including mocha, espresso, raspberry, coconut, cocoa, pomegranate, key lime, passion fruit, creme brulee and more—guaranteed to make eyes roll in bliss, tense shoulders melt into chocolate oblivion, and turn grown men and women into 6-year-olds.
When I asked owner Kelli Kamm, an attorney by trade, what possessed her to open a chocolate shop, she laughed and said, “The better question is, ‘What possessed me to be an attorney?'” It’s not that complicated, really. She loved chocolate, and she learned to use rich ingredients, like Belgian Callebaut, to make works of edible art. “The hard part about the chocolate business is the business. This part,” she said, as she filled trays with a delectable river of chocolate with grey sea salt almond, “is the fun part.”
Attention to detail and the personal touch are two key aspects of her 14-year success. Kelli and her long-time manager, Deb Kern, design and make everything in their shop, right down to the gorgeous packaging. (I should know. I’ve hand-tied hundreds of bows on boxes, packages, and bags of assorted chocolate heaven.)
Besides the chocolate itself which is (did I mention this?) divine, the customers are, hands down, my favorite part of the shop. I love watching the newlyweds who come in every Friday for their weekly two-truffle treat. I loved meeting the woman who teaches Parkinsons patients to dance. Another woman, a cancer patient headed for her last chemo treatment, came in to buy chocolate for her nurses. One man bought 16 truffles the other day for himself and his wife—just because. It wasn’t even a Christmas gift. It was just a random weekday “I thought of you” gift. I love that.
It is delightful to watch people take the time to pick out such a simple, scrumptious, and elegant treat for friends, family, spouses, or even for themselves. For just a few bucks, it’s hard to beat the certain smile such a gift will bring to the recipient’s face—and, of course, there’s the (did I mention this?) divinely rich and decadent chocolate, mixed with such surprising flavors that you, too, will turn into a kid again. Guaranteed.