bean to bar chocolate, chocolate artisans, chocolate river, chocolate tasting, creme brulee, French Broad Chocolate Lounge, Hercule Poirot, masala chai, solar power, sustainable cacao farm, Valentine's Day
Ever dream of chocolate streams? I have. When I was a kid, a dream I had about swimming in a chocolate river was so vivid that I hoped and prayed that there were chocolate bodies of water in heaven. That was my idea of eternal paradise. I simply didn’t want to go if I couldn’t swim in a chocolate stream. But you know what I’ve been thinking? I don’t need one anymore because I have French Broad Chocolate Lounge. Seriously. Heaven on earth.
It’s not a chocolate shop. It’s not a coffee shop. It’s not a bakery, bar, or sandwich shop. It’s truly a chocolate lounge. And lounge I do, any time I’ve had the privilege of stopping by for a treat. Sitting back with a steaming cup of their French pressed coffee and a handmade slice of rich cake or a delicately designed and flavored truffle is one of my favorite ways to unwind.
Sometimes I do the opposite of lounging when I’m there and work while my boys do their lessons. Chocolate makes everything more fun.The first time I went to the chocolate lounge it was late in the evening and there was a line to the door. I knew I was in for a treat. It was a good thing the wait was so long, because with all the choices a person is given, it’s really hard to settle on just one thing.
They don’t just sell their own creations at French Broad Chocolate Lounge, a colorful display of chocolate from other independently owned producers offers unique varieties. One day I’ll buy one of each brand to do a taste test. Now there’s a fun project idea! I could host a party on that theme. But chocolate…tasting. Think anyone would show?
Of course their own bars are displayed as well. I have only tried the .81% in bar form and was it ever good?! I was very surprised by the texture. It was grainy and rich, fabulously bitter, like the last 1/4 inch at the bottom of a pot of French pressed coffee, which ironically always reminds me of chocolate. Gotta love those tropical beans!
Other display cases are filled with creamy delectables and topped with mile-high rich and whippy cakes. It’s so hard to decide which one to choose!
And above all these tempting selections is mounted an enormous chalk board with more offerings, such as…wait for it…Liquid Truffle. It’s hot chocolate. No, it’s not, it’s rich cocoa. No. You know what I think it is? It has to be what the Mayans “drank” because it’s fit for the gods. Must be what Belgian Poirot sipped every evening from a tiny cup in all of those Agatha Christie mystery novels I used to read. It’s simply liquified truffle, or drinkable ganache, and comes in wonderful flavors.
The owners of French Broad Chocolate Lounge, Jael and Dan Rattigan, moved to Asheville after owning a cacao farm in Costa Rica. No wonder everything at the chocolate lounge is so amazing! These people are not only proficient at turning raw cacao beans into fine chocolate, they also know how to grow the beans!
The opening of their new chocolate factory, of which I have yet to visit, allows them to continue making quality chocolate and desserts in the same manner. Tours of the solar powered facility include chocolate tastings. Willy Wonka would be green with envy.