1. Object thought to have magical powers
2. Excessive or irrational devotion to some activity
It isn’t hard to fall under the spell of chocolate! The lush, decadent taste evokes a passion that dispels any thought of gastronomic objectivity.
I don’t mean just any chocolate but the fine European and American varieties that are now increasingly available. America’s growing obssession with chocolate is an emerging trend following on the heels of an interest in taste experiences associated with the wine and coffee industries. To satisy all your chocolate fantasies and desires, I recommend a trip to The Chocolate Fetish in downtown Asheville, North Carolina. It is one of the finest places in the region to buy artisan chocolates, according to the Los Angeles Times, in their “America’s Best” series.
On a recent visit to Asheville, I had a chance to visit this exclusive chocolate boutique. Talk about indulging your chocolate desires! Walk in from the street and you immediately notice the welcoming aroma of chocolate in the air. Humidity-controlled glass cases are filled with high-quality, artisan chocolates that shine like jewels. Even window shopping at the Chocolate Fetish is a delight! Enter the shopping complex adjacent to the shop and view the windows filled with magnificent chocolate confections. Travel the corrider to the Haywood Park Hotel and you will find an enormous window allowing passersby to view the entire chocolate-making process. Read on for more photos and all the mouthwatering details……………
Owners Bill and Sue Foley believe that crafting fine chocolate is an art form. They purchased the 21 year old business about five years ago then proceeded to enlarge the operation.
The Foleys are master alchemists, blending chocolates by hand with wholesome ingredients and natural flavors to create an extraordinary array of mouthwatering treats. Their labratory is a climate-controlled, glassed-in workroom where they continually experiment and concoct new flavors.
Bill said, “Our chocolate comes from six countries – Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Venezuela and four types from the US. One distinction of the business is that we blend various types of chocolates.” The Foleys do not use preservatives, additives or vegetable oil in their signature products. It goes without saying that quality and freshness are the top priorities.
If there is anything that chocolatier Bill Foley doesn’t know on the subject, it probably isn’t worth knowing. He is a fountain of chocolate knowledge, pouring forth information on every aspect of its production – even how a piece of chocolate should sound when it is broken.
When I asked him to describe the flavor of a truffle called Ancient Pleasures, his answer went like this, “First there will be a lip-taste of cayenne, which is rapidly overpowered by a rich full mouth chocolate flavor. As the chocolate flavor recedes a subtle taste of cayenne begins at the back of your mouth and slowly travels forward for a pleasant lasting taste.”
I knew right away that I was in for an unparalleled chocolate adventure! The staff is equally as informative.
If truffles are your cup of tea, The Chocolate Fetish has the mother-lode! Shelves are filled with Ecstasy Trufflesâ„¢, made with the finest European chocolates. They have a lighter, less-dense ganache center than the typical American truffle and a more sophisticated flavoring. The outer chocolate coating is of the highest quality.
Ganache is a melt-in-your mouth satiny blend of chocolate couverture and cream blended in varying proportions. It is often enhanced with subtle flavorings. When making ganache, you can add more cream for a softer, more velvety mixture. Sometimes a little air is whipped into the ganache for a lighter color and texture. Ganache is used for truffle centers, and as a filling for cakes and tarts. In its fluid state, it can be poured over cakes and pastries for a flawless, shiny glaze.
The inviting names and luscious appearance of the Ecstasy Truffles make them impossible to resist. The Los Angeles times wrote that not all of the product is suitable for children. Some of the truffles are best “savored like fine Cognac. Eat them slowly: Bite off a small piece and swirl it around in your mouth.”
There are Ecstasy Truffles in flavors like Champagne, Hazelnut Gianduia, Grand Marnier and Mocha Magic. For more upscale, one-of-a-kind, exotic flavors, try:
Ancient Pleasures: (ganache filling is flavored with cayenne pepper/enrobed with dark chocolate coverture. Dusted with cayenne and cocoa powder.)
Blossom (rich dark shell and center with lemon zest, ginger and a hint of saffron)
Key Lime Pie: (key lime in white chocolate ganache /enrobed in white chocolate/ graham cracker crust on the bottom.
Wine and Roses: (dark chocolate ganache infused with full-bodied French red wine and essence of roses enrobed in dark chocolate coverture. Embellished with a crystal rose petal)
Velvet Sin: (the ultimate in all things dark chocolate)
Dragon’s Kiss: (full-flavored dark chocolate with a kiss of spicy wasabi, enrobed in dark coverture and sprinkled with white and black sesame seeds)
French Kiss: (two European milk chocolates enrobed in a third premium chocolate then topped with a pearl of dark French chocolate)
High Tea: (Organic Chinese green tea and organic Indian black tea are combined with European milk chocolate/enrobed with a blend of two European semisweet chocolates, drizzled with mild chocolate strings)
Chai Moon (a blend of 14 spices)
‘America’s Best Truffles â„¢ ‘ features premium dark and milk chocolates. The selection include flavors like Raspberry, Kahlua, Amaretto, Milk Mint and Irish Cream. ‘America’s Best Truffles’ was rated in ‘Americas Best’ by the Los Angeles Times.
About 100 different products are offered including 23 kinds of truffles, various kinds of turtles, large round discs of chocolate bark, frogs and chocolate-dipped premium dried fruits like raspberries, Turkish apricots, Australian ginger, raisins and dates.
The chocolate bark comes in flavors like dark chocolate with Walnuts & Cranberries, Dark Almond Raspberry Crunch, Marbeled Mint, White Chocolate, Peanut Butter Swirl, Rocky Road, Cookies and Cream and Berries and Cream – oh my!
There is a variety of crunchy ‘frogs’ (small chocolates) including Milk Pistachio, Dark Pistachio, White Cashew and Milk Pecan. Chocolate assortments are also available.
The Chocolate Fetish has a variety of magnificent chocolate ‘cakes’ on display in the windows. Fashioned entirely from fine chocolate, the layers are hollow and meant to be filled with an assortment of trinkets. The ‘cakes’ are broken open at parties, much like Mexican pinatas. The staff explained that this was a Canadian custom.
If chocolate seems like a guilty pleasure, remember this. It might be GOOD for your health! Scientists are subjecting brave volunteers to clinical trials of eating chocolate to discover if plant compounds like phenols can improve health by boosting the immune system and fighting heart disease. In preliminary studies at UC Davis, researchers found that cocoa powder may share the health benefits of asprin in blood thinning and clotting prevention.
So do your part for science (and perhaps for your health), and eat a piece of fine chocolate! If you can’t make it to Asheville, you can order from The Chocolate Fetish online. The site invites you to virtually “handpick and fill a chocolate box” with your favorite selections then your order will be carefully packed and sent on its way. The Chocolate Fetish offers secure online shopping utilizing advanced technology to protect your personal information.
The Chocolate Fetish
36 Haywood Street
Asheville, NC , 28801, USA
M-TH 11:30 AM – 6 PM
F-SAT 11 AM – 9 PM
SUN Noon – 5 PM
I have condensed the following tips offered by experts at the Chocolate Fetish to guide you in selecting quality chocolates.
- Take note of the appearance. Chocolate should be shiny and even in coloration, with no whitish streaks or dots which indicate ‘bloom’ from improper storage conditions.
- There should be a rich, chocolaty flavorful aroma with no hint of a burned, smoky essence.
- Chocolate should break evenly and clean, with a crisp audible “snap.” It should be eaten at room temperature, not directly from the refrigerator. Too cold, and it will splinter; too warm and it will ‘warp and separate.”
- When you take a bite, let it sit between your tongue and the roof of your mouth. Move it around and observe the effects. Chocolate melts at human body temperature. It will begin to melt immediately in your mouth with an even texture.
- The ‘mouthfeel’ should be creamy, velvety, smooth and soft, free of grease, grit, grain, wax or gum. Whatever the type, quality chocolate should have a well-balanced flavor, not too sweet and not too bitter. Additives should not overpower the taste of the chocolate-it should be the main flavor. The aftertaste should linger with a pleasant sensation.
- It goes without saying that the candy should be made with pure quality chocolate. Chocolate with a high cocoa content can be a good indicator of a quality chocolate. Look for chocolate that contains cocoa butter, not other vegetable fats. Chocolate made with cocoa butter will have a smoother texture and more of a chocolate taste.
Photos by Susan Fuller Slack