Wednesday, August 17, 2011

kakao

there has been a dire lack of sweets reviews on here. lois is a dessert-hound and she's slowly but surely converting clark; still, the reason for the lack is probably just because we so rarely have room for sweets after stuffing ourselves at dinner. lois has made a solemn resolution to right this sin. (and you can flog her with delicious ropes of gelatin-free sour straws if she lets you down.)

mission:
maplewood

terrain:
the walls feature bright and playful cacao trees. it's a large, open space with well-loved wood floors, and lots of shiny stainless equipment. the work area is totally open to viewing, which makes it feel like a really intimate, welcoming operation. in front of the register is a long rustic table and benches, the perfect spot to savor your truffles, which you may choose from the case right in front of your seat. other goodie stations are set up on tables nearby, baskets overflowing with delectables so difficult to choose from you'll find yourself walking in circles until you're dizzy. we hear chocolate cures that, though.

personnel:
we can't say enough good things about the staff here! they're always so friendly and excited to tell you more. we always feel like they're excited for us. we get the impression that they love their jobs. no shady wonka business going on here.

rations:
we started with the pink peppercorn lemon thyme truffle. read that a couple times. let it sink in. yummm. the brightness of the thyme paired with the zesty lemon obviously complement each other beautifully, and the mild peppercorn with the dark chocolate add a lovely balancing base. the elderflower truffle, with its delicate little flourish on top was too enticing to pass up. we love edible flowers, and we love floral scents in our chocolate. this one is delicate but not shy, and light yet rich all at once. one of lois's favorite childhood treats were molasses puffs, which kakao calls their "cinder toffee." rich, sweet, crunchy, but with the melt-in-your-mouth magic of cotton candy. perfection.
kakao did some cheese and chocolate pairings a little while back, and we were able to get our hands on a gouda truffle. while the texture was, at first, slightly curious, we let our tastebuds guide us and there are no doubts that that was one of the most fascinating things we've eaten this year. who knew? lastly, we had the smoke truffle. the woman who helped us said that a co-worker likened the taste to "a burning house." the drama is totally appropriate because this little guy really packs a punch. its smoldery flavor comes from lapsang souchong tea, which is made by smoke-drying tea leaves over pinewood fires. you've really never had a chocolate quite like this before; if you see them, buy a dozen.
it's not just that there are interesting and complex flavors at work here. the smoothness and consistency of the chocolate is divine, and the freshness and quality of the ingredients really comes through. if you're not convinced yet, just sample some of the plain dark chocolate bark, maybe with a little sea salt--you can't hide anything there.
we're really proud to have kakao in our city. it's not every place where you can say you have one of the best chocolatiers around, and oh, by the way, he's just a guy who tired of his corporate job and decided to follow his passion. we've heard lots of chefs and restaurateurs say that one of the best things about st. louis is that you can have an ambition here and just go for it, and there's a community of interested people who will support you just for doing what you love and doing it well. we think brian pelletier is one of the best examples of this. 

also check out their blog! they have lots of fun recipes and news about how they're giving back to the community. even if you do nothing more than stop by for some truffles, just make sure that you become familiar with kakao... really, they'd be doing you a favor.

assessment:
a

vegetarian-friendly score:
a (anything but the marshmallows and perhaps a thing or two with bacon are safe... vegans, just be sure to ask)

Kakao Chocolate on Urbanspoon

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