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Food & Drink

Chocoholics can avoid withdrawal with these three SA chocolatiers

Photo: Katy Schmader, License: N/A

Katy Schmader

A treasure trove of chocolate confections by Creative Chocolates.

Unlike some past relationships, I can pinpoint the exact day when I fell in love with chocolate. It was the morning of October 14, 2006, and I was navigating my way to class through the windy cobblestone streets of Perugia, a historic hilltop town in the central region of Italy. As I approached the town centre, I noticed an influx of people — no, tourists — aimlessly wandering around with their cameras and maps in search of the annual chocolate festival.

People always say that love happens when you least expect it, and up until that point I believed that to be a redundant cliché. But then I hit the tents of the Eurochocolate Festival lining the main avenue with chocolate in all its forms: hot chocolate, chocolate liqueurs, chocolate truffles, chocolate churros. Main attractions included a man carving a car out of a block of solid milk chocolate and classes in how to pair chocolate with different types of food. It wasn't uncommon to see people walking around with chocolate hairdos. As I walked down the crowded street, vendors handed me samples of their products and I knew then that it was going to be a gluttonous week. What I didn't know was just how addicted I was going to become to the cacao bean.

By mid-week, the gentleman at the entrance of the Lindt tent recognized me amongst the thousands in attendance. Ciao bella! Ti piace il cioccolato? Yes, please. Volete più cioccolato? Yes, please. My new love was irresistible and I wasted no time pretending I didn't want more.

This whirlwind affair continued through the fall season. I spent cold nights with my hands wrapped around a mug of thick, Italian hot chocolate. Nutella croissants became an acceptable breakfast option. Perugina chocolate bars accompanied me on excursions outside of the city. By the end of my semester in Italy, I was an irredeemable chocoholic.

With such a profoundly passionate affair behind me, I was skeptical when I began researching San Antonio's chocolatiers. How could they compete? Would I be able to find something as rich and complex as the Perugina Baci? With Mother's Day looming, such questions have to be addressed head-on, because mothers deserve more than a waxy Hershey's bar with their Hallmark card, dammit. So I hit the San Anto chocolate scene hard. I found that while H-E-B's Central Market does have quite the international selection, there are actually several local artisans conjuring up creations too good to be wrapped and sold off the shelf.

Choicolate – Artisan Chocolates

Walk into Choicolate Artisan Chocolates and you will find that the atmosphere is not entirely unlike that of Tiffany & Co. in New York. Chic, modern, and clean, the décor says what the strip-mall location does not — get ready for a decadent treat. Young Yang, the front man of Choicolate, kindly greeted me from behind the counter. I peered down into the glass case, half expecting extravagant jewelry. What I discovered was much more desirable — truffles. Twenty different types of truffles to be exact. Creamy chocolate interiors are infused with more traditional flavors such as salted caramel, raspberry, hazelnut latte, and mint, while more exotic flavors include Earl Grey, bananas foster, mango & habanero, and lavender. Looking for something sans sucre? The latest item to come from the creative mind of Jamie Choi, head chocolatier, is Choi's Sugar Free Bar ($3.50), made with 56 percent cocoa solid unsweetened dark chocolate. Yum. Create your own box of chocolates or purchase a pre-made box. A box of five truffles will set you back $11. A box of ten, $20. A small price to pay for the gourmet assortment.

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