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Co Co. Sala Chocolate Lounge & Boutique

While my friends are slogging their way through the snowdrifts in New York, I’m still sitting tight inVirginia.  I had planned to make my way back today, butit looks like from the news reports that the city continues to be difficultto get around.  Besides, I’d already made anappointment to visit one of the amazing chocolatiers whom I’d first met at theChocolate Show in November, so I thought keeping that was probably a better useof my time instead of fighting the transportation woes back home.

Co Co. Sala started out as a dessert-only restaurant about three years ago butthen expanded to include dinner and brunch service. Their boutique opened this year to sell their gorgeous and deliciouschocolates separate from the main dining area. From what I read on their Twitter feed and see in the online reviews, itseems like they have many ardent fans.  Theyalso 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 frommy post-college days working in DC as being run down and kind of on the scary side, even inbroad 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 reasonfor me to head into the city to see their space and to talk to the executivechef Santosh Tiptur about his work.  Hegraciously answered my questions and told me about how they started out,adjusting the meal offerings along the way to showcase not just his wonderfuldesserts but also to put chocolate and other unique ingredients on the savoryside of his menu as well.  They doprivate 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 tolink to another site where several DC-area food bloggers were able to try avariety of dishes so that you can see that angle.  Their chocolate, however, was anothermatter.  At the boutique, I was able to try a few bitsof their unique and diverse artisanal chocolate line from the samples tray.  The highest quality, freshestingredients go into their product, and you can taste it in every bite.

The Black Forest had a fragrant, tart layer of raspberryfilling located just below a thin coating of dark chocolate all on top of acream layer.  The Praline Crunch transported me back to the finest chocolate shops inBrussels withits thin, beautiful dark chocolate coating covering a creamy, crunchyinterior.  The 72% Cacao chocolate just melted in my mouth taking me away tochocolate heaven.  On the recommendation of the person workingat the boutique, I tried his favorite chocolate, the Rosemary Caramel.  Theoutside of dark chocolate with white and green speckles hid the deep, richsilky caramel perfumed with woodsy, herbally rosemary.  While it might sound odd, this flavor combinationworked perfectly.

It is the care andattention to the craft of putting together these chocolates from their exteriordesign to the delicious taste within that make them stand out for me.  This is quality that comes through in everymorsel.  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 hischocolate, which accounts for their amazing flavors as well as their delicatenatures.  White chocolates should be keptfor no more than a month.  For darkchocolates, 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 orderthrough their website.  I’m hoping thaton my next trip, I’ll get to try out their food, but for the moment, I’llsettle for savoring the memories of their wonderful chocolates.

Buon appetito!

Thank you so much to Chef Tiptur for talking to me today and to co-owner Bharet Malhotra for organizing our meeting.  If you would like to hold an event at Co Co. Sala, please contact their Manager of Development & Events.

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