Any suggestions for great chocolates in the Boston area? Is Burdick's generally considered to be the best? I used to send my mom chocolates from Gearharts in Charlottesville, VA for her birthday every year but am trying to find a local spot. Anything even mildly comparable to Gearharts would be fabulous... Thanks!
I like the chocolates from Burdick. I have sent boxes of their chocolates as gifts, and they have cute ones like the mice and penguins.
My favorite gift of chocolates that I received were Teuscher truffles, which is Swiss but has a shop in Boston. I normally wouldn't buy a box of just truffles, but these were outstanding and absolutely delicious.
Beacon Hill Chocolates also has a nice shop with some good variety. Not sure where their chocolates are made.
Probably depends on what you're looking for. I never heard of Gearhearts, but think all three of the above places have some great chocolates.
Burdick's is great. You should also try Taza, a local producer in Somerville. Their chocolate is available at farmer's markets or in a variety of stores, including Whole Foods. I would recommend going to a farmer's market if you can to sample their chocolate before buying, as it is not conched and so has a very different texture than most other chocolate. Personally, I really like it and think it is some of the best chocolate around.
I love Taza chocolate as well, but it is not comparable in style to Burdick's or Teuscher. Taza sells only full bars of chocolate, rather than boxes of fancy truffles. That is, Taza doesn't really present well as a gift, and not everyone likes the grittier texture and brighter flavors. (However, if you want to give me a case of Taza, I'd gladly accept). At Teuscher, I love the champagne truffles, and also recommend the lemon-filled squares and chocolate-dipped orange slices. You can't go wrong with Burdick's either.
Burdick's and Teuscher are both great. Each has its own style. Teuscher is a very traditional Swiss style of truffle. The flavors are not unique, but the quality is great. Burdick's does lots of unusal flavors and combinations. Also great quality.
If Teuscher, don't miss the champagne truffles.
At work, we recently got a box of chocolates from Hotel Chocolat from a client and it was absolutely rich and not too sweet. They just opened at 141A Newbury Street.
Richart chocolates are amazing; I often give them as gifts and people are consistently blown away by them. I think they're more interesting than the traditional ones (though you can buy a variety of pure bar chocolates from them as well). In the Copley mall....if you have never tried, I'd say you're missing out on something special.
Very unfortunately Richart has closed both of their US retail stores (there was one in San Francisco and one in Boston). However, you can still order them on-line or by phone from their office in San Francisco (http://www.richart-chocolates.com/). I completely agree with Zatan that the chocolate and flavors in Richart chocolate will blow you away. I've never tasted anything quite like them, and the presentation is novel and elegant. I would recommend an assortment of all 49 flavors of the Petits Richart. I really miss this store, and especially the very gregarious and knowledgeable ladies who worked there. They would often host events where they invited a local coffee company or a wine company to pair their wares with chocolate and offered free tastings.
It is true that the chocolates are made in France and shipped, rather than being made right on the premises. However, I think that totally misses the point. Wherever they are made, they are made carefully, in small quantities, in a unique and artisanal process. Unlike some foods that we eat in restaurants, chocolates do not spoil or taste at all different if they are consumed several weeks after they are prepared versus several hours, especially if they are refrigerated. I would much rather consume excellent chocolate made a few days ago then mediocre chocolate prepared more recently.
Also, on the mail order front I cannot say enough good things about Socola Chocolates. Formerly from Cambridge, Massachusetts these sisters have moved to San Francisco and operate a small mail-order chocolate company with some of the very best truffles I've ever tasted: http://www.socolachocolates.com/
On the home front, I must say that I like neither Burdicks nor Serendipity for chocolate truffles. I enjoy Burdicks for the coffee, cookies and atmosphere, but I find their chocolates uninspired. I like the original location in New Hampshire for well-prepared rustic French food. Serendipity has amusing molds and might make a nice gift, but the chocolate itself is second-rate at best.
The most interesting selection of high quality boxed chocolate I've run across is in the little gourmet store in the Copley Westin downtown. They often have a few varieties on sale, but I would particularly recommend the Sonoma Valley wine grape chocolates, and the pink peppercorn chocolates (reminiscent of a special holiday flavor from Richart actually).