Monday, September 10, 2012

Chocolate in Sudbury for your 'Sudbury Saturday Night'

So maybe you have to buy this chocolate in the afternoon, but you can certainly enjoy it on a Saturday night. And you do not have to attend 'bingo' or get 'stinko' to enjoy it. Sudbury has come a long way since  1967 when Stompin' Tom Connors wrote his famous song depicting the life of nickel miners in the Northern Ontario city, which can be seen in the changes to their art, culture and foodie opportunities. For a girl like me, who grew up in Sudbury and never knew what fine chocolate was (because it simply was not available), I see huge changes in the availability and selection when I visit my home town.

Ten years ago, I could buy a few Lindt Excellence chocolate bars at Sudbury's Shopper's Drug Mart or Walmart locations. Then I discovered that HomeSense always had a good selection of gourmet and imported fine chocolate and occasionally, Winner's would also have a small selection. And if you are looking for an interesting chocolate gift at a good price, I recommend that you still go to HomeSense to see what they have in their gourmet food aisle.

Then Chapters opened on the Kingsway, which has a consistent selection of Godiva and other seasonal chocolate and expensive confectionary gift items. The attached Starbucks also sells Starbucks' Milk Chocolate bars, which are surprisingly quite good. And the selections at Walmart and Shopper's Drug Mart have improved over the years.

But if you really want the high end stuff and you have an inkling to spend some serious cash on imported chocolate, head to the Fromagerie on Elgin Street in Sudbury's downtown.  Although this is primarily an imported cheese shop and cafe, the Fromagerie began selling a range of Michel Cluizel's single origin chocolate bars a few years ago, and most recently added to their chocolate selection by bringing in Italian brand Amedei and American brand Vosges Haut Chocolat, a chocolate maker from Chicago that I have written about many times.

Since I had purchased the entire flavour range of Michel Cluizel from the Fromagerie previously, I had not gone back since. Until I heard that Vosges was also available there.  I was surprised to find a large flavour range of Vosges' chocolate bars, including the Smoke & Stout Caramel bar that I had also recently purchased in Toronto, as well as the similar Black Salt Caramel Bar. Vosges is known for their interesting flavour pairings using only real and gourmet ingredients.  And although the Fromagerie does not carry Vosges' entire line of chocolate flavours, they do have a great selection.

What was most interesting about the Smoke & Stout Caramel bar was the strong hint of beer flavouring in the bar.  Well, perhaps that wasn't surprising since "Stout" was included in the name of the chocolate, but the surprising part was how great it tasted and how nicely the stout paired with dark chocolate. Also, there was a soft centre to this chocolate bar that just melted away.  The Black Salt Caramel Bar was very similar in taste and texture, but lacked the beer flavour.  I liked both chocolate bars very much.  The only downside is that the pieces do not break where they are supposed to, so it can get a bit messy when you are eating it.  But of course, what does that matter when it tastes so great?
There was also a small selection of Amedei that run at about $10 per 50 gram bar.  I took home Amedei "9", a chocolate with 75% cacao solids and made from a blend of beans from 9 plantations.  It also won the Academy of Chocolate Gold award in 2011.

So if you are searching for chocolate for a tasting party or as a special gift for that discerning chocoholic in your life, I highly recommend that you check out the Fromagerie.  Perhaps you will even pick up some imported cheese while you are there!

If you know of any other places that sell imported, single origin or bean-to-bar craft chocolate in Sudbury, feel free to add it to the comments.  I will also update this article as I discover more about Sudbury's chocolate scene.

The Fromagerie is located at 5 Cedar, but the entrance is on Elgin Street in Sudbury's downtown. There is a city-run parking lot directly across the street, with free parking for up to 2 hours.

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