Local Vendor Spotlight: CHOCOLATE Galeria of Chocolate and Wine
As our gift to you, we’ve partnered with CHOCOLATE to present you with a gourmet caramel & chocolate dipped Granny Smith apple from Sigona’s that’s festively wrapped and decorated for Valentine’s Day!
By Carmelo Sigona
With chocolates this fantastic, you’d think Brec Swan, owner of the one-year-old, gold-medal winning CHOCOLATE Galeria of Chocolate & Wine located in Santa Rosa, Calif., had been making chocolates since he first stepped up on a stool as a child to help his mother cook dinner. A career as a chocolatier, however, is a passion he discovered later in life.
From dark chocolate hearts filled with delectable, creamy, hand-churned caramel (it takes 8 hours to make a batch!) to chocolate and caramel dipped apples drizzled with red- and pink-colored white chocolate, CHOCOLATE makes anything you can imagine with or out of chocolate. As our gift to you for Valentine’s Day, we’ve partnered with Brec to give away the latter for free! That’s right…a gourmet caramel and chocolate dipped Granny Smith apple from Sigona’s that’s festively wrapped and decorated for Valentine’s Day!
We’re so excited to offer the dipped apples for the Valentine’s bonus coupon! The quality of this caramel, buttery and not too sweet, partnered with richness of the chocolate is perfectly complimented by the tart flavor of the crisp Granny Smith apple. The Valentine’s-colored chocolate drizzles add the perfect touch, making entire package almost too pretty to tamper with (trust me, you’ve never seen an apple like this)…but it’s hard to resist a chocolate-caramel dipped apple for long. CHOCOLATE left us with samples last week and they disappeared almost before we could say thank you!
CHOCOLATE’s gourmet chocolates are “adult chocolates;” they’re made for the mature palate as they do not contain a lot of sugar, there are no “fillers” in the chocolate and they only use fresh, high-quality products sourced as locally as possible. For example, they only use fresh cream in the caramel and the ingredients for chocolate are sourced from Guittard Chocolate Company in Burlingame, Calif.
“Brec’s chocolates have a certain excellence about them, both in taste and sight, that you just can’t beat,” said John Nava, specialty foods buyer for Sigona’s. “All it takes is one bite to know these creations have been made by a team of experts with the best-quality ingredients.”
It was in the late 1990s that Brec discovered his desire to learn more about chocolate. He had come across a gourmet chocolate store in Rohnert Park in California’s Sonoma County and was so impressed with the store and its business he decided he wanted to become a small part of the operation. Brec then worked on and off for two years as part of the store’s team, happily working with customers behind the counter, packaging, and in the kitchen to learn as much as he could about the business.
“I loved the customer service aspects of the business because people were always happy to see me and they appreciated my input on special custom orders,” said Brec. “It did not matter how many times a customer would come back [to buy more chocolate], they would always be happy to see me behind the counter and I was always happy to see them smiling when they left. It was during this time that my dream of being an owner of a Chocolate business began to be more consistent.”
With the help of expert chocolatiers from former Sonoma County-based chocolate shops, Brec brought his dream to reality by opening of CHOCOLATE Galeria of chocolate and wine. With his team of tried-and-true, award-winning expert chocolatiers, CHOCOLATE is company that thinks outside the box and is continually looking for ways to take the company to the next level using unique ingredients, designs and presentations.
“It only makes sense to use fresh fruit with our chocolate,” said Brec. “Sonoma County is in an agriculturally-rich area and we’ve covered nearly all of its fruits, from orange segments to raspberries, in chocolate. Our chocolate-dipped strawberries, for example, are very popular for weddings. One of our favorite new items are the chocolate-caramel covered seedless grapes; they’re unique and the flavor and texture combination is outstanding. This is just another reason we’re excited about this partnership with Sigona’s: their produce, our chocolate – – it’s a win-win.”
Though the company is just a year old, it’s has a very impressive list of accolades: From the Sonoma County Harvest Fair, CHOCOLATE has been awarded:
- A gold medal for an orange caramel crispy
- A gold medal for a Brazilian egg nog liqueur truffle
- A silver medal for a spicy Chai Latte liqueur truffle
- A silver medal for a Raspberry creme gelee dessert with white chocolate
- A bronze medal for a chocolate lemon caramel marshmallow
Is your mouth watering like mine?
Sonona is also the heart of wine country, and during the time Brec and his team worked at various chocolate shops in the area, they came to be wine and chocolate pairing experts as customers were constantly asking which chocolate went best with certain wines. With this skill in its arsenal, CHOCOLATE often holds wine and chocolate pairing seminars for businesses and events for a flat fee. You can bet we’ll invite
CHOCOLATE to our festival later this year so we can all learn about chocolate and wine pairing! Wine truffles are also one the specialties for this growing company. They also use ports, liqueurs, champagnes, Tequila and Bourbon…a huge Father’s Day hit the beer truffle!
Though apples and caramel have been paired together about as long as peanut butter and jelly, this chocolate-caramel apple from CHOCOLATE is not to miss. We’ll have a selection of milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate and white chocolate that’s made pink, especially for Valentine’s Day.
PS – you can get another plated apple for FREE…no purchase necessary…by participating in our contest here. The first 40 to answer get a plated apple for participating — a beautiful gift at a beautiful price! Click here for details!