This time of year, food writers generally find themselves inundated with samples. They range from the proverbial sublime to the ridiculous and touch on every gradation in between. One day, it’s really good wine; the next, it’s review copies of cookbooks; the following, it’s a bottle of terrifyingly-flavored vodka meant to resemble an unholy alcoholic version of, say, fluffernutter sandwiches.
You win some, and you lose some.
Recently, however, a sample box of chocolates from Tradestone Confections found its way to my mailbox, and I had a feeling, before even opening it, that I’d be in for a treat: Tradestone is the result of the partnership between Chef Chip Roman, of Chestnut Hill’s standout Mica, and Fredrick Ortega, a chocolatier with a serious pedigree.
I was not let down. These decadent treats evidence the same attention to detail and care for ingredients that fans of Mica have come to expect from Roman and Co. The chocolate itself is wonderful—subtle and decadent at once, with an an overall aesthetic that’s extremely pretty without crossing the line into the overwrought. For that alone, they’d make excellent gifts.
But it’s the fillings, the combinations, that set them apart. Classic ones like chocolate and raspberry are rendered brilliantly here, but it’s the less expected treats that really charmed me. “Anise,” for example, is an ingenious gathering of chocolate ganache, star anise and absinthe. White chocolate is made exotic with toasted Thai coconut. “Double mint” leverages the complexity of actual mint instead of the far more common flavoring agents that are used too often by some other producers.
None of this comes cheap—a box of 16 will run you $30—but it’s worth the outlay, especially if you’re smart about whom you give it to. If you have a significant other you share a house or apartment with, for example, this is perfect. Because then you’ll be able to nibble on these yourself. Just make sure to lay out the ground rules first, and to call dibs on who gets which specific pieces. These, after all, are the kind of chocolates that could cause serious discord at home. They’re that good.
PW's Taste of Philly 2014