I stopped by early Friday morning, after picking up a sandwich at next-door Picholine for a drive down to Orange County. Really, I only wanted one or two pieces, or maybe even three... but plans change.
I was met behind the counter by the charming owner, whose name I regretfully forget. (I assume it's Christian, according to the Daily Candy website). When he asked if I had been there before, and I replied no, he took me on a detailed yet not boring description of the process, what the chocolates are made of, etcetc. The chocolate they import straight from France, but they assemble everything in the store so that it's at its freshest - no preservatives used! And they are actually part of l'Artisan du Chocolat - the Picholine name is to showed that they're owned by their next-door neighbours (I think, my mind started wandering to the chocolates at that point.)
There are two box sizes offered, and the cost is calculated by weight. There are perhaps about 20, 25 carefully edited choices of milk and dark chocolate confections. Truffles, paves (including a dark chocolate version that's 75% dark chocolate), coeurs framboises, feuilles de chene (flavoured with a mix of three different kinds of teas), a dark chocolate buchette containing chopped up espresso beans.. Some flavoured with hazelnuts, almonds, various liqueurs and cordials, oranges, rosemary, basil, thyme.. I could go on and on.
And as I was making my choices, I was informed that eating chocolate will make me happier, and can even lower bad cholesterol (at least if you eat the dark 75% chocolate.) Even if the latter isn't true, the former definitely is. (I've also read that dark chocolate contains more antioxidants than berries, not that I need another reason to indulge.)
He was a real salesman, and the next thing you know, I walked out of the store with a small box of chocolates that cost me around $25 (containing perhaps 20-30 different pieces? I can't really see them all), nibbling on the aforementioned dark chocolate buchette I had been given on my way out "since [I] liked dark chocolate so much." It was more than I had wanted to spend, yes, but I don't regret it in the least, especially not as I look over the too-quickly dwindling selection before me.
3364 West First Street