By Molly Golubcow | Photography by Phil Fabrizio
In the past, you would have had to fly to Paris to sample such to-die-for chocolates. Think truffles filled with ganache so smooth they send your palate into orbit, or mouthwatering bonbons as delicious as they are beautiful. So if not Paris, where can you go to get your hands on such delectable morsels? The answer to your chocolate dreams is the SPAGnVOLA Chocolate Boutique in Gaithersburg. Yes, it’s true. Chocolate ecstasy now exists right on Main Street in the heart of the Kentlands!
As soon as you enter the shop, you are welcomed by the soft scent of chocolate. Stylish glass cabinets display the precious, mouthwatering jewels like so many museum pieces. They come in all manner of shapes and shades of chocolate. Some are round and delicately laced with color. Others are shiny and pyramid-shaped. All are made by hand as a labor of love, using only fine and organic ingredients.
This concept of creating fine chocolate is the brainchild of Eric and Crisoire Reid, SPAGnVOLA proprietors and chocolate mavens. Although the chocolate boutique has been open only since February 2011, the Reids have been busy for years—studying at the Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy, experimenting with exotic ingredients like passion fruit pulp, and perfecting what they call a “unique and exquisite” chocolate.
To ensure that every step of their chocolate making is perfect, the Reids believe in quality as opposed to bulk production. For example, SPAGnVOLA only uses cocoa beans grown and cultivated from their own farm in Crisoire’s homeland of the Dominican Republic. Once the beans arrive in the U.S., the Reids and their carefully selected staff painstakingly process them into the chocolate silk that they then transform into bonbons, bars and truffles.
Eric is proud of SPAGnVOLA. “By slowly and carefully overseeing the process with our own eyes and hands,” he says, “we strive to control the aroma and taste of our chocolate from the soil on our farm to the final product that we label as SPAGnVOLA Chocolates.”
Crisoire, the head chocolatier, is the creative genius behind each delectable morsel. She uses only the highest quality and organic ingredients to create her masterpieces. One of her personal favorites is the popular BlackBerry Truffle. But Crisoire is also an adventurer who enjoys experimenting with bold and unusual ingredients like adding olive oil infused with rosemary or jasmine to her chocolate.
In addition to a shop filled with chocolates, gelato like you can only get in Rome, and baristas ready to make your favorite coffee or chocolate beverage, SPAGnVOLA offers tours of their “Truffle Factory” located downstairs from the boutique. The 20-minute tour is yummy as well as educational. You learn about cocoa plants, the processing steps needed to perfect the beans and the exact temperatures needed to chill chocolates setting in molds. If the scent of the chocolate is not enough for you, the tour concludes with samples of just-made chocolates so fresh that they melt, slowly and sensually, in your mouth. The tours are free and are given only on the weekends.
SPAGnVOLA also offers chocolatemaking classes twice a week. Crisoire, the master herself, instructs up to 15 people per class in the art of making her special ganache and truffles. The best part? Participants get to take home the gems that they create.
After tasting SPAGnVOLA’s creations, you’ll never again want to eat that stuff masquerading as chocolate at your grocery checkout counter—and you can skip the trip to Paris, too. Treat yourself to ultimate chocolate bliss, SPAGnVOLA-style right here in Gaithersburg.
To make reservations for SPAGnVOLA’s free, weekend factory tour, visit http://SPAGnVOLA.com.
Published in the January/February 2012 issue of Montgomery Magazine.