“Nine out of ten people like chocolate. The tenth is lying.”
(Graffiti scrawled on a wall )
The best part of any journey is the discovery of the unexpected. The good unexpected, to be specific. (I had a momentary image of a flat tire on Route 666 on a hot August day some fifteen miles out in the desert with no tow trucks in sight...unexpected, and certainly not the best part of the journey.)
Often times, our travels take on a culinary edge. The local flavors and ingredients can deepen your relationship with a destination as almost nothing else can do.
But that was to be expected in many ways. New Mexican foods are well known in the restaurant world, and are often calling cards in and of themselves.
And, as I started out this column I noted that it was the unexpected which can be the greatest reward for a traveler with an open mind. Or palate. Or both.
|The Chocolate Smith|
So when I say "chocolate" chances are remote you would respond with "Santa Fe, New Mexico". And you'd be wrong.
And true to the region, each of the four chocolatiers emphasizes local ingredients and flavors in their concoctions, enabling them to present truly unique treats for the casual chocoholic and connoisseur alike.
C.G. Higgins Confections – "Welcome to C.G. Higgins, a boutique chocolatier, candymaker, and the home of Chuck's Nuts Originals. We hand-make fine chocolate truffles, caramel corn, and many types of nut brittle, most recently featured on the Food Network's "Road Tasted" with the Neelys. Also known for our specialty fudge, C.G Higgins incorporates local flavors of the New Mexico including red and green chiles."
The two-part tasting room and cafe is warm and inviting, as are the staff and Chuck Higgins himself. He took the time to explain the history of his company, his love of the confection business, and a bit of background on the whole Chocolate Trail idea. Chuck got into the business through the sale of his homemade fudge, classic truffles, and caramel corn -- which remain a staple of his business along with a large assortment of delicious brittles. He mixes local ingredients to create such flavors as chile peanut brittle and lavender pecan brittle, lavender caramel corn, and a completely natural fudge that is creamy and tastier than most varieties -- the flavors are more subtle and textured rather than the one-note fudge you may be used to eating..
CG Higgins is easily visible from highway 285 (St Francis Drive) just north of Cerillos.
847 Ninita St. (at St. Francis) 505-820-1315. www.cghiggins.com
Kakawa Chocolate House – Kakawa isn't your usual chocolate shop either. They are dedicated to preserving the true historic flavors of chocolate drinks and creations such as chile chocolate ice cream and dark chocolate candies.
We are a specialty chocolate company located in the beautiful high desert town of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Our passion is authentic and historic drinking chocolates. Historic drinking chocolates include traditional Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Mayan Aztec drinking chocolates; 1600's European drinking chocolates, Colonial American and Colonial Mexican drinking chocolates. Kakawa Chocolate House drinking chocolates are representative of these historic recipes and span the time period 1000 BC to the mid-1900s AD.
|Relax and indulge|
The flavors are truly unique, and some of them will surprise you with their flavors -- this is not for the Hershey's crowd, this is for the adventurous palate delving into the crafted original tastes and sensations of hundreds of years before factory production created instant hot chocolate. The tasting is part of the fun of visiting Kakawa, and you will find the people behind the counter helpful and well-versed in the subject. As with CG Higgins, there is a small cafe area in which you can sit down with your choice and sip to your heart's content.
1050 Paseo de Peralta 505-982-0388. www.kakawachocolates.com.
The Chocolate Smith – The Chocolate Smith is perhaps the most traditional of chocolatiers on the Chocolate Trail, but don't let the appearance fool you. The flavors and creations here are as authentically Santa Fe as as any of the other three houses. Dark chocolate flavors, some with a healthy red or green chili kick, greet you as you enter the store. Take a moment to peruse the room and see all of the various products and services they offer, then wander the few feet to the main counter and check out the options.
Gourmet dark chocolate by The Chocolate Smith is made by hand using a bittersweet blend of dark chocolate and premium, fresh, local, and organic ingredients. Indulge in timeless chocolate classics or explore contemporary twists and regional flairs. Whichever your preference, be ready for an over-the-top chocolate experience.
They specialize in barks (the dark chocolate chili bark is amazing and genuinely spicy), caramels, bon bons and candy-covered nuts.
851-A Cerillos Road. 505-473-2111. www.chocolatesmith.com.
Todos Santos Chocolates and Confections - Todos Santos is perhaps the most eclectic of the group, with a variety of candies that range from marshmallow sticks through to delicious hand-crafted chocolate treats. They cater to a higher-end clientele and seem to do a brisk business in candy catering.
Todos Santos carries housemade creations including truffles, toffee and gold or silver leaf covered chocolate milagros as well as eclectic confections from around the world.
The flavors are as fabulous as those at the other establishments, with a premium presentation and approach. The shop is small, but packed with a variety of treats, many centered around the Dia De Los Muertos theme common to the Southwest and Mexico. A bit difficult to track down compared to the other three, but certainly worth a visit. Within an easy walk to the Basilica St Francis ad the famous Plaza Santa Fe.
Todos Santos is hidden away In the Sena Plaza Courtyard at 125 E. Palace #31 in Santa Fe. 505-982-3855. (Unfortunately no website available for ordering)
The Santa Fe Chocolate Trail. Expect the unexpected and Happy hunting!!!
Dreaming of Sweets the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail style!