As a child it was Russell Stovers all the way, my mom’s candy of choice, and a box of assorted chocolates was part of every holiday of my childhood. It was also the catalyst of the vanilla cream wars, as my brothers and I fought over our favorites. (Yes, I confess, I was the one that would take a small nibble out of the bottom of a likely candidate for the luscious vanilla, and upon discovery of the dreaded coconut instead, would sneak it back into the box.)
In the years since I’ve gobbled Godiva, lingered over Lindt and inhaled my share of Hershey’s. I’ve visited chocolate factories in France, Belgium and Switzerland and was in awe of the technique and care devoted to my favorite food group. In Belgium, a skilled chocolatier even sculpted it into shapes for display such as phone booths and even a car, which met an unfortunate demise when the ants found it.
Yet after pounds and pounds of research on this topic, I’ve found one my true chocolate love. And it’s just a few miles down the street from where I live in Atlanta.
I was at an Atlanta Press Club lunch last year, right before Valentine’s Day, as the subject at the table turned to chocolate and a woman told me about Lexington Chocolatier, right near Georgia Tech. Right after lunch I jumped in my car headed straight down Spring Street.
The small shop is gorgeous, and I instantly reverted to the clichéd kid in a candy factory. It was hard to know where to begin – fresh hand-dipped strawberries, amaretto cherries, dipped Oreos and dozens of other sumptious treats vied for my attention as did what was going on behind the glass wall where chocolatier James Chalifoux works his magic. All chocolate is blended from two different cocas using the European method of tempering to get just the right smooth texture. And for me, the perfect amount of sweetness.
I’d found the answer to the age-old question of what to get a man for Valentine’s Day.
This year for Valentine’s, my husband returned the favor and presented me with a yummy bag of hand-dipped chocolates, a box of strawberries and two bags of my absolute favorite – the chocolate-covered popcorn. They do custom chocolates as well, so you can fulfill just about any chocolate desire.
Now the shop is offering Chocolate 101, a class for you to learn how to mold chocolate and make your own treats.
With our current economic situation, many of us may be giving up some of life’s big luxuries. But why not indulge in some of the simpler ones? After what, what day isn’t made better by a dose of chocolate?
68 Fifth Street, Atlanta: 404-875-0111.