Thursday, June 17, 2010

alegio chocolates

Alegio Chocolates Special Edition Joan Coukos Chocolates for Valentine's DayIf your motto with chocolate is the debauchery should never end, then you must make a trip to Alegio Chocolates. Alegio Chocolates is a hidden gem in the heart of the Gourmet Ghetto in Kensington, California (that’s near Berkeley University for those not familiar with the geography of the San Francisco East Bay). Designed under the keen eye of proprietors Panos a former film producer, and Robbin, it transforms the small space into a jewel-like box that exhibits the finest chocolates from around the world. Walking into the store always reminds me of the scene in Moscow on the Hudson, where Robin Williams, a Russian defector enters an American grocery store for the first time. In Moscow, he had to stand forever in line for some likely, miserable government, issue coffee – but in America he becomes so completely overwhelmed by an grocery aisle dedicated to serving up a depraved offering of a zillion coffee brands, he collapses.

Claudio Corallo Chocolate BarsMuch like the supermarket scene, Alegio Chocolates serves up a cornucopia of treasure for the chocolate connoisseur. But unlike the random selection at a grocery store, each chocolate that graces an Alegio Chocolate's shelf has been meticulously selected. Both Panos and Robbin are charming and knowledgeable hosts that are happy to take the time to explain the details on how chocolate is made to exactly which Enric Rovira Bombola chocolate to enjoy with your favorite vintage wine. And, if you’re lucky and put on your most winning smile, you might be introduced to the secret drawer where Panos will pull out his latest, extraordinary chocolate find and offer you a tantalizing taste.

In our recent trip, we were able to sample some divine Claudio Corallo, considered some of the best and most complex chocolate in the world. The cacao beans, of this single source, ground breaking chocolate, are grown on a tiny African island of Principe. The beans are then transported to Sao Tome where Corallo has spent 10 years perfecting techniques to convert his them to chocolate that is absolutely unforgettable. We left with two bars that barely made it into our car before being ravenously devoured.

Enric Rovira BombolasAmong the many chocolates you can sample, Alegio also offers an exclusive collection of Joan Coukus truffles. Each of these divine little truffles are intensely flavored, perfectly balanced and hopelessly addictive. My favorites include The Orange and Ginger, The Habanero; Madagascan chocolate with a hint of chili, The Honey; a delicate fusion of Tasmania Honey from Australia and chocolate ganache, The Grapefruit; an award winning combination of tart, fresh grapefruit puree and the lushness of silky caramel and The Cinnamon; because who doesn’t love cinnamon and chocolate? For those who are bold – or maybe just a lush, try The Scotch for something unusual; a Venezuelan chocolate mixed with a smokey, peaty Scotch.

Whether you enjoy a truffle or an exotic chocolate bar, you will be guaranteed to find satisfaction at Alegio Chocolates. Just remember, if you get dizzy, it’s best to sit down and put your head between your knees.

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