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Current chocolatier recommendations?

I am on a quest to purchase a box of chocolates for a dear relative's birthday. Said dear relative lives overseas, in an area where no fine chocolates can be found and is a chocoholic, so I am hoping to find the perfect gift for her, not a fine imported Belgian chocolate that will likely be stale by the time it reaches her. I am looking especially for freshness, as the gift will be shipped which will take time and diminish fresh qualities of any chocolate, so I am hoping for locally made. Last year I tried Saratoga, which did not quite meet the standards. Does anyone have an opinion about Recchiuti, TCHO, Christopher Elbow or Charles Chocolates? Are there any newer manufacturers that I might be missing? Although I am willing to sample chocolates, I no longer have a sweet tooth, so I am depending on the opinion of those who still do to help out a fellow sweet tooth, my gift recipient. I am looking for a box of assorted. She prefers dark chocolate, fillings such as raspberry, lemon, strawberry, coffee or truffles, for reference. TIA.

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Recchiuti
1 Ferry Bldg # 30, San Francisco, CA

Christopher Elbow
401 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA

TCHO
17 San Pier, Francisco, CA

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  1. I love TCHO but I don't know if they do fillings. What I like are the straight chocolates with the different flavor profiles. I was not at all impressed with Christopher Elbow.

    Michael

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    Christopher Elbow
    401 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA

    TCHO
    17 San Pier, Francisco, CA

    1 Reply
    1. re: mdg

      Thanks, Michael. I don't know if my relative would like bars over filled assortments, but http://www.tcho.com/store/bars/tcho-a... the healthy prescription for chocolate on their website looks interesting. I will have to check them out.

    2. Chocolatier Blue in Berkeley is amazing.

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      Chocolatier Blue
      1964 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94701

      1 Reply
      1. re: milklady

        Thanks, milklady. While Chocolatier Blue's website does look amazing and impressive, I am afraid it wouldn't be easy for me to get there. I should have specified that I am looking for San Francisco proper chocolatiers, although if it comes down to the wire, I might be able to get across the bay.

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        Chocolatier Blue
        1964 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94701

      2. I loved Recchiuti when I visited SF several years back, but I don't live there and can't compare to the other chocolatiers you mentioned. I CAN tell you I remember a very different lemon verbena filling and don't recall a single thing I tasted there that was less than fabulous. I'd be a happy kat if a box from the Ferry Building made it my way. :)

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        Recchiuti
        1 Ferry Bldg # 30, San Francisco, CA

        1. Total chocoholic here...Question - you mention Belgian. Is that her standard? What does she like, because that will give a clue to which chocolatier she would like the best.

          Chocolatier Blue is great for those fillings and his ganache is very smooth and nice. Not all the flavors come through as strongly as i would like, but when he is on - the chocolates are wonderful. I like Christopher Elbow's infused caramels. They are great, less enamored with his ganache. But I have found few American Chocolatiers that compete in the ganache category with my favorite French. I also do love Rechuiitti, particularly their less mainstream flavors and of course the fleur del sel which is a dark caramel.

          Charles does a good peanut butter but the rest is meh IMO. Also not in love with TCHO.

          Also Cocoa Delice does wonderful caramels and peanut butter truffles. Some of the best in the area IMO. i have not tried many of their others, but i think they are very good.

          Finally, Poco Docle does flavored tiles and toffees which may not sound wonderful, but they do a really fantastic job. Really really nice. You can get them at many whole foods.

          Also, Jade chocolate does some nice infused chocolate. Their tempering isn't as top notch as some, but the infusions certainly are. Also available at Whole Foods.

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          Christopher Elbow
          401 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA

          TCHO
          17 San Pier, Francisco, CA

          Chocolatier Blue
          1964 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94701

          4 Replies
          1. re: jsaimd

            jsaimd, her traditional favorite from the past was Godiva, but I do know that before she moved overseas she found the quality to have declined. You brought up something I hadn't considered until just now, which is that she can't eat caramels, unfortunately, and probably not toffees if they might stick in the teeth. But other than that, fillings, ganache, any nuts are OK, and as I said before, preferably dark chocolate. I am narrowing down my list now, leaning heavily towards Rechuitti (Thanks, kattyeyes!) or Chocolatier Blue. Cocoa Delice's website looks good, but they have no storefront of their own from which to purchase the goods and having formerly worked at Whole Foods, I am disinclined to purchase them there or from any other grocery store. I appreciate the good thoughts from everyone so far.

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            Chocolatier Blue
            1964 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94701

            1. re: PersnicketyChicky

              The infused caramels I mention are soft caramels s o they don't get stuck in teeth. You can also check out Chocolate Covered in Noe Valley for a lot of local chocolates. Cocoa Bella carries some, but not too many local chocolatiers (Mischner and Elbow - although Elbow is half local).

              So Chocolatier Blue uses Amedei chocolate and their dark is wonderful. Rechuitti used to use a Scharfenberger/Guittard blend, which has less personality but is more neutral IMO. I favor Chocolatier Blue's fruit flavors, he does best I think with brightly flavored fruits. Rechuitti has a nice hold on the balance between savory and sweet with his herb infused or sesame for instance. You can't go wrong with either.

              I never had Godiva when it was good I guess, but it is fairly sweet and kind of Belgian or Swiss in quality. Their darks tend to be milder, and high butterfat content for a very smooth sensation. I prefer more assertive chocolates, with a nice snap (which is more in line with French or Italian chocolate (of course these are generalization). It is an import but Teuscher fits the Godiva profile but higher end. I find it too sweet but it is more that style. One advantage of Chocolatier Blue, is that if you go into the original shop when Chris Blue is there he will guide you through it all and will recommend the best fit.

              Poco Dolce tiles are just chocolate and are really lovely. You can get them a lot of places, and since they are not ganache they tend to have a really nice shelf life. i would suggest picking up a little bit as well.

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              Chocolate Covered
              4069 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94114

              Chocolatier Blue
              1964 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94701

              1. re: PersnicketyChicky

                Coco Delice chocolates are great and they will ship directly for you. Handcrafted by Dennis, who trained in France. The chocolate-covered almonds are the best you will find, and all the dark chocolate filled ones are great. And as noted above, the caramels are soft and not sticky (not at all like See's butter chews, which are the best if you do like chewy caramels). You can't go wrong. Contact Dennis directly by email or phone and he'll make sure you get what you want. Don't let the fact that Whole Foods sells some of his products deter you.

                1. re: judyn

                  Yes, Dennis makes some great stuff and is a really sweet guy.
                  His Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels (Forais) are some of favorites.
                  Others of note in the Dark Chocolate category: Spicy Rouge: Dark chocolate, Italian sparkling red wine, cayenne pepper. Orange/Cardamom (Dark chocolate). Citron: Dark chocolate with organic lemon & balsamic. Pure Passion: Dark chocolate with passion fruit. Merlot & Port both are Dark chocolate with Sonoma wine and one of the most intriguing is the Elderflower: Elderflower Liquor & a blend of citrus in dark chocolate.

                  I also love Recchiuti. The folks are always friendly and willing to help.
                  Favorites: The Burnt Caramel, Force Noir, Spring Jasmine Tea, Madagascar Varietal. I haven't had anything yet that wasn't a party in my mouth. I'm not remembering if I've had the Lemon Verbena, but I'm sure that'll be good as well. Oh, and their Sipping Chocolate is sooo good. Have fun shopping!

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                  Recchiuti
                  1 Ferry Bldg # 30, San Francisco, CA

            2. How about good chocolate and art work pieces, Xocolate , Berkeley.
              http://thexocolatebar.com/default.aspx

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              The Xocolate Bar
              1709 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

              2 Replies
              1. re: wolfe

                I agree with jsaimd's assessments: don't bother with Charles and Tcho; I don't think you can go wrong with any of Recchuiti, Chocolatier Blue or as wolfe suggested, Xocolate Bar. If transit is a problem, Blue might be able to put together and ship your chocolates for you. This time of year you really should consider shipping them express, professionally packed with cooling packs. Otherwise your investment in fine chocolates is really wasted. In fact,. I think how your chocolates are shipped will make a much bigger difference in quality than splitting hairs between various high-end chocolatiers. It would be worth calling several and asking them specifically about their recommendations for shipping to your destination.

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                The Xocolate Bar
                1709 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

                Chocolatier Blue
                1964 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94701

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  Thanks, Ruth, for bringing up another issue I hadn't considered before, having the chocolatier ship for me. I am planning on visiting Recchuiti first because it's in San Francisco proper and therefore easiest for me, and as backup, going to Chocolatier Blue and The Xocolate Bar, which all sound like perfect candidates. I also appreciate jsaimd's comment that soft caramels should be no problem for teeth. Wonderful advice, everyone, and most appreciated. I will report back in mid August to let everyone know what she thought of the chocolates.

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                  The Xocolate Bar
                  1709 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

                  Chocolatier Blue
                  1964 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94701