While my friends are slogging their way through the snow drifts in New York, I’m still sitting tight in Virginia. I had planned to make my way back today, but it looks like from the news reports that the city continues to be difficult to get around. Besides, I’d already made an appointment to visit one of the amazing chocolatiers whom I’d first met at the Chocolate Show in November, so I thought keeping that was probably a better use of my time instead of fighting the transportation woes back home.
Co Co. Sala started out as a dessert-only restaurant about three years ago but then expanded to include dinner and brunch service. Their boutique opened this year to sell their gorgeous and delicious chocolates separate from the main dining area. From what I read on their Twitter feed and see in the online reviews, it seems like they have many ardent fans. They also received a 2010 RAMMY award from the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington for "Your Favorite Restaurant" as voted on by the public. Given that they are located in a neighborhood that I remember from my post-college days working in DC as being run down and kind of on the scary side, even in broad daylight, it is great to see a business like this one thrive in a newly-revitalized section of town.
Being back home for the holidays provided the perfect reason for me to head into the city to see their space and to talk to the executive chef Santosh Tiptur about his work. He graciously answered my questions and told me about how they started out, adjusting the meal offerings along the way to showcase not just his wonderful desserts but also to put chocolate and other unique ingredients on the savory side of his menu as well. They do private events and classes and even have chocolate and champagne tastings, too.
I wasn’t able to enjoy a meal there, yet, so I’m going to link to another site where several DC-area food bloggers were able to try a variety of dishes so that you can see that angle. Their chocolate, however, was another matter. At the boutique, I was able to try a few bits of their unique and diverse artisanal chocolate line from the samples tray. The highest quality, freshest ingredients go into their product, and you can taste it in every bite.
The Black Forest had a fragrant, tart layer of raspberry filling located just below a thin coating of dark chocolate all on top of a cream layer. The Praline Crunch transported me back to the finest chocolate shops in Brussels with its thin, beautiful dark chocolate coating covering a creamy, crunchy interior. The 72% Cacao chocolate just melted in my mouth taking me away to chocolate heaven. On the recommendation of the person working at the boutique, I tried his favorite chocolate, the Rosemary Caramel. The outside of dark chocolate with white and green speckles hid the deep, rich silky caramel perfumed with woodsy, herbally rosemary. While it might sound odd, this flavor combination worked perfectly.
It is the care and attention to the craft of putting together these chocolates from their exterior design to the delicious taste within that make them stand out for me. This is quality that comes through in every morsel. While I haven't had the chance to taste every single one of their selections (maybe a goal for 2011?), some of the chocolates I have tried would have been very warmly welcomed in my Christmas stocking.
Chef Tiptur explained that he uses no preservatives in his chocolate, which accounts for their amazing flavors as well as their delicate natures. White chocolates should be kept for no more than a month. For dark chocolates, they need to be eaten within two months. At the moment, the best way for you to try their fantastic products is to visit the boutique or the restaurant in Washington, DC. Chocolates are also available via mail order through their website. I’m hoping that on my next trip, I’ll get to try out their food, but for the moment, I’ll settle for savoring the memories of their wonderful chocolates.