I have been eagerly awaiting the opening of Chow Chocolat at the Walden Galleria for several reasons, mainly:
1. They are replacing Godiva, and hey, i’ve never been all that jazzed about Godiva anyway.
2. They are a local business!
3. It’s new to me and has to do with food… need I say more?
I walked in and noticed two small to medium aged children that (hopefully) belonged to the 30-something couple that seemed to be in charge… I think, “how sweet, it’s a family establishment!” I am subsequently sad for them, because I am the only browser/customer in there, and so decide to use this as an excuse to Boyfriend when he reproaches me later for buying chocolates now. I give the shop a nervous once-over and approve of the square armchair in the corner, and the presentation of the (albeit few) products they have on display.
Because of the limited selection and my own desire to not be chastised by Boyfriend for being ridiculous, I chose four random things to try: some sort of Chai-caramel chocolate square, a Cognac truffle, a cherry cordial, and a blackcurrant jelly square (because, well, I’m a sucker for blackcurrant candies). By the time I meet up with Boyfriend, I partially forget what items I had selected and decide to make an adventure of tasting and trying to remember what I actually purchased. I open my tiny brown bag and pull out my shiny, clear box with its little bow and Chow Chocolat business card. I am pleased with the open view of the dainty little assortment I picked out, but after reflecting upon the flimsy plastic box I think it might not travel well or be (easily) recyclable.
First I try the blackcurrant jelly square. I enjoy the flavor, finding it to be fresh, strong, and natural, and the texture is akin to an all natural fruit roll. After the first bite though, I feel a bit turned off by the monotonous texture; I think I would enjoy it much more if my big, sad, jelly square were cut into eight or so jelly bean sized pieces and frosted with sour sugar (less Jell-O Jiggler and more Rowntrees’ Fruit Pastilles).
I proceed to the three actual chocolates. The first tastes creamy and overwhelmingly clove-y, and at first we think it is caramel pumpkin pie. Once I realize that it is supposed to be Chai, the excessive clove taste makes a bit more sense (but not enough for me to be fond of it); still, I appreciate the delicate texture and richness of the chocolate coating, and am pleased with the quality of their chocolate base. Feeling that my palate may find my next flavor more agreeable, I move on to the Cognac truffle. I am pleasantly surprised with the complexity of its strong Cognac flavor and smooth center, but notice that the filling has receded a bit from the chocolate layer enrobing it (which I find to be a little dry).
Lastly, I try the cherry cordial. As a child, I would eat these things by the box whenever I could get my hands on them; as an adult, I cannot resist trying a cherry cordial at any new chocolatier that I visit. I often find the chocolate to be too thick or waxy, the filling to be too solid or grainy, and the taste to be too chemical or Cadbury-Easter-Egg-like. Fortunately for me, I found none of these flaws with the Chow Chocolat cordial! Its shell was the perfect thickness, and the chocolate was delicate in flavor and well tempered. I broke through it and my taste buds burst with a delicate cherry flavor. After marveling at the fresh, natural taste of the filling, I got the sugary finish typical of a cherry cordial. That’s what I call a cherry cordial.
I did some research when I started writing this and it looks like they have been in business for almost two years at their Main Street location. They are indeed a family business, and there are some glowing things being said about them on the internet by both patrons and employees. From what I can gather, their ingredients are natural and ethically sourced. All in all, I think I will find myself patronizing Chow Chocolat again and again.
Chow Chocolat at the Walden Galleria has long since closed. They are still open at their Main St location and are also typically a presence at the Elmwood-Bidwell Farmer’s Market. In May(?) 2011, they opened up another location on Elmwood Ave, a few doors down from Blue Monk (Elmwood and Breckenridge) where Firebrand used to be. Having patronized Chow Chocolat at all three locations on a number of occasions, I would rate it a 3 of 4. I would like to see them improve their customer service and their product quantity/selection.