Wednesday, March 11, 2015

L'atelier du chocolat


L'atelier du chocolat, a high end chocolate store owned and operated by master chocolatier Eric Gerard, recently opened at 321 Marin Boulevard (close to the Grove St. Path). L'atelier du chocolat already has a small shop at 59 W. 22nd in New York, but about a year ago, Gerard decided to begin moving his workshop and kitchen to Jersey City, providing an opportunity for a larger second storefront. 


Most of the space is taken up by the workshop which you're able to view through large windows, but the store is sizeable enough to display the wide variety of chocolates, non-chocolate items like jars of jam and hazelnut spread(!), and pre-selected truffle boxes as well as a coffee machine. There are old-fashioned chocolate molds framed along the wall and the entire effect is charming in its simplicity even as your eye is drawn to the beautiful designs on the chocolates along with their very modern flavors. 




The flavors of the chocolates run the gamut with everything from floral to a selection of "marine"chocolates. The majority are hard-shell chocolates with a soft filling inside. They are available by the piece, but I'd recommend getting at least a box of four so you can have a taste of both the familiar and exotic flavors. While they do sell pre-selected boxes, the staff are also happy to help guide you if you decide to choose your own and they will recommend the order you should eat them in to get the best out of the chocolates.

When I was there, I picked up a box of 4 ($8.50) and selected a Fleur de Sel (dark chocolate around a caramel with sea salt from Brittany), another dark chocolate with Peruvian salt, the Intrigue which was dark chocolate with nori and slight hints of mango, and a rose-infused chocolate. The chocolate was rich, smooth, and I could taste the intensity of the dark chocolate but it wasn't bitter and each chocolate's flavor came through very nicely. All of them were excellent (the nori in particular) and very well-balanced in flavor except the rose which I found a bit too strong for my liking. It was still good but just almost overpowering in it's floral taste (luckily, the woman helping me suggested I eat it last so it didn't ruin any of the others).

I also picked up a little two pack of the salted caramel truffles ($4) that L'atelier du chocolat is perhaps best known for. The hard-shelled version of the Fleur de Sel I had gotten was created as a sweeter, alternative version to this and is definitely a more typical salted caramel chocolate, but the flavor in the truffle version is astounding. A sugar-coated, very thin dark chocolate exterior is wrapped around a semi-liquid dark caramel filled with texture-creating flakes of sea salt that is far more salty than sweet and incredibly unique. Because of the kind of sea salt being used, this truffle is at no point overwhelmingly salty but it is very intense in flavor. As the layers of sugar, dark chocolate, and salt all merge in your mouth, it reaches and awakens every taste bud. I loved it but could see people who prefer more traditional chocolate not enjoying it.

All in All
The number one downside to L'atelier du chocolat is that it is not cheap, For a high quality chocolate shop with the variety of unique and interesting flavors it has, the price point isn't unexpected but I would still consider it more of a splurge than your everyday chocolate shop but that also makes it ideal for gifts. Given the wide range of flavors, there are both standard favorites to be found and plenty to explore for the adventurous. The store also carries a lot of high quality, gourmet products that I look forward to trying out. I highly recommend stopping by to try something and luckily, the staff is both knowledgeable and eager to help you do so.

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