La Chocolaterie (And Some Cheese)

April 8, 2014

Foodblog-5522

On a chilly Wednesday afternoon last week I joined fellow blogger friend Alex for a chocolate tasting she organized at Neuhaus, a chocolaterie inside of the Milli Joe Coffeehouse in the 400 Preston Building in downtown Charlottesville.

Is there a better way to warm up from the cold?

Foodblog-02700

Our Cville shop is the sister store to the famous Frenchman’s Corner in Culpeper and is operated by Yonathan, the Frenchman’s son!

Foodblog-5518

Yonathan’s family is an independent dealer of the famous Neuhaus chocolate from Belgium. The company, founded in 1857, is known for inventing the praline, the first filled chocolate, in 1912. Read more of the history of Neuhaus chocolate here!

Foodblog-5515

Yonanthan took us on a chocolaty adventure through 5 special pieces. While you’ll probably read this post in less than 5 minutes, it took us a good hour to savor all 5 pieces. We discussed all kinds of flavors and textures along the way.

Foodblog-5525

Our first chocolate ended up being my very favorite (isn’t the first bite always the best!?): the Classic Truffle.

Check him out in the front here:

Foodblog-5524

The Classic is filled with chocolate buttercream, rolled in dark chocolate and dusted with a raw cocoa powder. It was bitter and drying on the outside (from the cocoa) and perfectly sweet on the inside – but not too sweet. A true palate experience.

We sipped a classic black tea from Milli Joe’s line to cleanse our palates – this one had notes of tobacco.

Foodblog-5531Foodblog-5532

Chocolate 2 was the almond-shaped chocolate in the front here – the Art Nouveau. I loved how hard the outer shell was compared to the luxurious ganache inside. Unlike ganaches that I have had for dessert, this one was slightly sticky and almost caramely in taste, which might have been the notes of grilled hazelnut in the ganache. It poured out of the chocolate upon first bite. I loved chomping down on the last bit!

Foodblog-5526

We tried the Suzanne next. This chocolate featured a whole fresh raspberry infused into dark chocolate ganache that was encased in dark chocolate and topped with dried raspberry. Neuhaus believes in using the finest quality ingredients, and in this case the highlight was simply raspberry. It reminded me of the super flavorful raspberries I get mid-summer at the farmer’s market – it was hard to believe there was no artificial flavor involved.

Foodblog-5533Foodblog-5535

Fourth we tried the Grand Place, named for the original store in Brussels where Neuhaus was founded. It was perhaps the most interesting chocolate on the tray – a rich dark chocolate ganache infused with a savory spice called nigella and then dusted with crystalized Belgian beet sugar. The flavor reminded me of soy sauce and black pepper! I declared this a pre-meal chocolate rather than a dessert :  )

Foodblog-5537

Our final delight was the Violetta, ganache flavored with violets and decorated with pieces of crystallized violets from Toulouse. The flavor of this chocolate was best described as “the color purple.” I’m not sure I had ever had violet before, but it reminded me of grape-flavored candy. Yet of course it was pure as can be.

Foodblog-5538

I ended the tasting with a new respect for chocolate (and chocolate makers!) and also a desire to eat more slowly. As a mom chasing a toddler around, sitting down to savor food is not something I do much of anymore, so this was such a treat.

I bought a few extras to bring home to Matt and enjoy the rest of the week:

A Tiramisu truffle, a Marc de Champagne truffle (Champagne Marc butter cream dusted in powdered sugar), the Desdemone (vanilla cream) and a Grand Place for Matt to try.

Foodblog-5541

I couldn’t leave Milli Joe without saying hi to my favorite cheesemonger!

Foodblog-5512

Nadjeeb was busy at Flora with his newest arrival – check out this log of cheese!

Foodblog-5544

He gave me a taste and then I left with some more of my favorite Caveman blue!

Foodblog-5546

Foodblog-5513

Happy Food Eating to you!

Previous post:

Next post:

{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ashley April 8, 2014 at 7:14 am

That would be a perfect day in my book….chocolate and cheese!

Reply

2 Meredith April 8, 2014 at 7:16 am

It’s kind of jarring to be greeted with a McDonald’s ad after reading those elegant descriptions of chocolate! McDonald’s and Progresso don’t seem like companies that offer products that jive with your brand!

Reply

3 Ashley N. April 8, 2014 at 7:32 am

That caught me off guard too!

Reply

4 KathEats April 8, 2014 at 7:54 am

Sorry guys, I agree it’s not a great fit

Reply

5 emily April 8, 2014 at 7:17 am

Those all sound wonderful. The first one seems like it would be my favorite as well. I have really been wanting some “good” chocolate lately and this post just pushed that craving into high-gear!

Reply

6 Alex @ The Zen Kat April 8, 2014 at 7:31 am

I loved reading your review and your pictures turned out so nicely! See you tomorrow!

Reply

7 KathEats April 8, 2014 at 7:54 am

: )

Reply

8 foodandfarm April 8, 2014 at 7:57 am

I was also taken back by the McDonald’s ad.

However, I stopped by Flora the other day and was so overwhelmed by the variety of cheeses! They were not open yet so next time I will have to talk to someone before I purchase! That place is a dangerous, wonderful, triple threat! Coffee, Chocolate, Cheese.

Reply

9 Anele @ Success Along the Weigh April 8, 2014 at 8:06 am

Hmm, not snarfing down chocolates in record time…novel concept! I’ll have to try that sometime! :-)

Reply

10 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats April 8, 2014 at 8:08 am

Invented the praline!? That’s pretty cool! My roommate in college worked at Market Street Sweets in Charleston and she had to make the pralines, haha SO MUCH butter and sugar! So good though…

Reply

11 KathEats April 8, 2014 at 10:12 am

Different kind of praline… But those are amazing too!

Reply

12 Ali April 8, 2014 at 8:29 am

That sounds awesome!

Reply

13 Elizabeth {Positively Healthy} April 8, 2014 at 8:34 am

Perfect day of cheese and chocolate! Such a cool experience and one I would love to try!

Reply

14 Hannah @ eat, drink, and save money April 8, 2014 at 9:11 am

I’ve got to do a chocolate tasting soon, what a fun idea. I may like to save money, but I know that good chocolate (and cheese) is worth the extra money! And don’t worry about the ads. You’re doing a great job and should be proud that people want to advertise with you.

Reply

15 Emma April 8, 2014 at 9:31 am

On the one hand, that sounds like a lot of tasty fun. On the other hand, five hours seems like an excruciatingly long time to sit around talking about five bites of candy! I think I would lose my mind if I had to spend five hours over ANY kind of food event. :-)

Reply

16 KathEats April 8, 2014 at 10:14 am

It was just one hour!

Reply

17 Sars April 8, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Glad I’m not the only one who thought that!

Reply

18 Emma April 9, 2014 at 9:22 am

Oh *facepalm* I thought you said an hour for EACH piece!

Reply

19 Becca April 8, 2014 at 9:45 am

Psst, It’s Culpeper, VA, not Culpepper.

Reply

20 KathEats April 8, 2014 at 10:15 am

Ooop changed it – thanks!

Reply

21 Kate April 8, 2014 at 9:47 am

Lovely descriptions of those very unique chocolates. I enjoyed reading it so much I feel like I tasted it too!

Reply

22 Dana @ Conscious Kitchen Blog April 8, 2014 at 9:51 am

Wow – what a treat! Your post had me googling for chocolate shops in our area. It’s great to see chocolates that are crafted with such care. And of course the cheese makes this a win-win. :)

Reply

23 Laura P April 8, 2014 at 10:21 am

What a great way to spend time! What a yummy combo of store space. I would be really fat and broke! Thanks for sharing!

Reply

24 Catherine April 8, 2014 at 10:22 am

How delicious! I just had the chance to go to Brussels this past Christmas and was so amazed at the hundreds of chocolate shops around the city. Being a chocoholic myself, I was ready to move there! :) I’m so glad you got to enjoy a day of savoring delicious chocolate–Belgium style!

Reply

25 Melanie April 8, 2014 at 10:28 am

Dangit Kath, you know I was um, “inspired” to run to the cabinet to get a piece of my Endangered Species dark chocolate after reading that! :)

Reply

26 KathEats April 8, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Haha

Reply

27 Bonnie April 8, 2014 at 10:39 am

The chocolate looks delicious! I’m crazy about ganache. Did you really have to spend one whole hour savoring each piece? Is that part of the experience? 5 hours seems really long for 5 chocolates, even delicious gourmet ones :) Or did you mean to say that the entire tasting took around one hour?

Reply

28 KathEats April 8, 2014 at 12:14 pm

It was supposed to read “It took us a whole hour to savor the 5 pieces”

Reply

29 Lisa C. April 8, 2014 at 10:50 am

I thought it was five hrs too based on the description! I would love to spend an hour savoring chocolate, though!

Reply

30 Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs April 8, 2014 at 11:15 am

Sounds like a great time!

I was in Belgium very briefly a few summers ago, and made sure to visit a Chocolaterie — it was SO worth all of the money that I spent there! I brought home a bunch of beautiful chocolate & truffles that my husband and I savoured for months! I wish I had bought more :)

Reply

31 Lauren @ Focused To Be Fit April 8, 2014 at 11:21 am

What a lovely way to spend an afternoon – those chocolates look delicious!!!

Reply

32 Chelsea@TableForOne April 8, 2014 at 11:39 am

It is only 10:30 and I’ve got a hankering for some good chocolate and cheese! This just looks like such a fun day…and delicious too.

Reply

33 Kendall April 8, 2014 at 1:53 pm

Learning chocolate history AND sampling sounds like an amazing day! And then cheese to top it all off– lucky

Reply

34 Kori April 8, 2014 at 2:13 pm

It all looks fantastic! One day when I make it to Cville again, this among many other new establishments are on my list! :) Wonderful descriptions, Kath!

Reply

35 CaitlinHTP April 8, 2014 at 2:22 pm

I NEED CHOCOLATE NOW.

Reply

36 Elisabeth April 8, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Hi Kath!
Love this post. I was in Sonoma last summer wine tasting and had the opportunity to go cheese tasting, my first time ever! It was so nice to sit down and hang out with my mom and chat over some delicious cheese, crackers, and meats.

I am a huge fan so please don’t take this insultingly, butI know that you are busy as a stay at home mom, but sometimes it seems like you complain about Mazen! As a mother who is lucky enough to stay at home and go cheese and chocolate tasting in the afternoon, it seems like when you complain about not being able to savor food. My sister and her husband have been trying for a child for 2 years and I am sure that they would love to give up their ability to savor food.

Just an observation. Have a good week!
-Elisabeth

Reply

37 KathEats April 8, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Having a toddler is tough and life changing, but in no way do I want to come across as ungrateful. There are a million pros to the few cons of having a baby. I add comments like this because they are facts of life that I find relevant to the post not because I find Mazen to be a hinder. I’m very sorry your sister has had fertility trouble though. I can’t imagine how hard that would be.

Reply

38 CaitlinHTP April 8, 2014 at 5:23 pm

I don’t think kath’s comments indicate she is ungrateful or doesn’t like Mazen. Young children come with lots of challenges and there are many things you give up to be an involved and caring parent… Sitting down through a whole meal is one of them!! :) I love eating out at date nights because I get to sit down the whole time! LOL

I’m sorry to hear about your sister :(

Reply

39 Eve April 10, 2014 at 11:28 am

I actually have to agree with elisabeth here.
I’ve been reading your blog for years, but I have noticed what Elisabeth is mentioning. I have suffered from infertility for the past 3 years now, going through iui, ivf, miscarriages, etc. and Kath (and caitlin’s) blogs are somewhat frustrating to read because I’d give anything to be in their place.

Reply

40 Carolyn April 9, 2014 at 6:27 pm

Seriously? Kath you have some of the most nit-picky readers in the world. It’s so annoying.

Reply

41 Michele April 10, 2014 at 8:43 pm

I agree with Carolyn.

Reply

42 Shel@PeachyPalate April 8, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Perfect afternoon! The classic does sound the best!

Reply

43 Emily @ Life on Food April 8, 2014 at 3:35 pm

No doubt in my mind the French make the best chocolate. When I lived in Paris I jumped from one shop to the next.

Reply

44 Bridget Miller April 8, 2014 at 3:58 pm

beautiful photography!!!!!!!!!

Reply

45 Amanda April 8, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Hi, I’ve been reading your blog for a while and never comment, but I was I’m Charlottesville this past week and went to your husbands restaurant which was amazing. The bread totally made my day. I’m so excited to be moving there soon, seems like a great place to live.

Reply

46 KathEats April 8, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Yay! Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it.

Reply

47 Livi April 8, 2014 at 6:46 pm

This is making my mouth water!! As if I needed more appreciation for chocolate!

Reply

48 Sarah April 8, 2014 at 6:54 pm

yum

Reply

49 Alex @ Kenzie Life April 8, 2014 at 7:14 pm

Oh that chocolate looks amazing! Makes me miss France and basically all of Europe :)

Reply

50 Rebekah {aCricketSang} April 8, 2014 at 7:21 pm

Mmmm amazing looking chocolates!

Reply

51 Mandy April 9, 2014 at 2:33 am

When I read your description of the violetta chocolate I exclaime ” so true!” Out loud! Not because I’ve had the chocolate but because wheni studied abroad in Toulouse I had violet ice cream and I thought it tasted like the color purple too! In fact it was the first thing that popped into my head. Just made me laugh and remember that summer in Toulouse. :)

Reply

52 KathEats April 9, 2014 at 6:24 am

Haha glad you agree!

Reply

53 Natalie April 10, 2014 at 5:26 pm

I’ve been to their first store in Belgium – to die for! Actually, all Belgian chocolate is to die for!

Reply

54 Ttrockwood April 12, 2014 at 11:42 pm

Neuhaus chocolates really are the best….!! Their flavors are interesting yet not weird. How great to have a cheesemonger you know- looks like a great selection there

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: