Hangin’ at French Broad Chocolate Lounge

Posts | February 28, 2013 | By

Ever dream of chocolate streams?  I have.  When I was a kid, a dream I had about swimming in a chocolate river was so vivid that I hoped and prayed that there were chocolate bodies of water in heaven.  That was my idea of eternal paradise.  I simply didn’t want to go if I couldn’t swim in a chocolate stream.  But you know what I’ve been thinking?  I don’t need one anymore because I have French Broad Chocolate Lounge.  Seriously.  Heaven on earth.

It’s not a chocolate shop.  It’s not a coffee shop.  It’s not a bakery, bar, or sandwich shop.  It’s truly a chocolate lounge And lounge I do, any time I’ve had the privilege of stopping by for a treat.  Sitting back with a steaming cup of their French pressed coffee and a handmade slice of rich cake or a delicately designed and flavored truffle is one of my favorite ways to unwind.

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Sometimes I do the opposite of lounging when I’m there and work while my boys do their lessons.  Chocolate makes everything more fun.

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The first time I went to the chocolate lounge it was late in the evening and there was a line to the door.  I knew I was in for a treat.  It was a good thing the wait was so long, because with all the choices a person is given, it’s really hard to settle on just one thing.

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The sign says it all.

The sign says it all. 

FBCLbars They don’t just sell their own creations at French Broad Chocolate Lounge, a colorful display of chocolate from other independently owned producers offers unique varieties.  One day I’ll buy one of each brand to do a taste test.  Now there’s a fun project idea!  I could host a party on that theme.  But chocolate…tasting.  Think anyone would show?

004 Of course their own bars are displayed as well.  I have only tried the 81% in bar form and was it ever good?!  I was very surprised by the texture.  It was grainy and rich, fabulously bitter, like the last 1/4 inch at the bottom of a pot of French pressed coffee, which ironically always reminds me of chocolate.  Gotta love those tropical beans!

032 The display cases are filled with the most unique variety of chocolate truffles you’ll ever see.  Lavender Honey, Salted Caramel, Tulsi Basil, Masala Chai…

DisplaycaseFBCL 020 The Fresh Raspberry is rolled in dehydrated, ground raspberries.  It’ll knock your socks right off!

031 When I was at the chocolate lounge on Valentine’s Day, they were rushing people who needed to select a box of truffles as a gift to the head of the line.  Lots of happy honeys that night!

Other display cases are filled with creamy delectables and topped with mile-high rich and whippy cakes.  It’s so hard to decide which one to choose!

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017 015 Cookies, tartlets, brownies…oh my!

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Nibby Brownie.  It's spicy!  See the cayenne?

Nibby Brownie. It’s spicy! See the cayenne?

And above all these tempting selections is mounted an enormous chalk board with more offerings, such as…wait for it…Liquid Truffle.  It’s hot chocolate.  No, it’s not, it’s rich cocoa.  No.  You know what I think it is?  It has to be what the Mayans “drank” because it’s fit for the gods.  Must be what Belgian Poirot sipped every evening from a tiny cup in all of those Agatha Christie mystery novels I used to read.  It’s simply liquified truffle, or drinkable ganache, and comes in wonderful flavors.

006 They also serve cheese, wine, and beer.  Like I said, heaven on earth.

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The movers and shakers who provide fast quality service, even on busy nights when the line is out the door!

025 The owners of French Broad Chocolate Lounge, Jael and Dan Rattigan, moved to Asheville after owning a cacao farm in Costa Rica.  No wonder everything at the chocolate lounge is so amazing!  These people are not only proficient at turning raw cacao beans into fine chocolate, they also know how to grow the beans!

The opening of their new chocolate factory, of which I have yet to visit, allows them to continue making quality chocolate and desserts in the same manner.  Tours of the solar powered facility include chocolate tastings.  Willy Wonka would be green with envy.098

That Vegan Avocado Chocolate Pudding Everyone Makes That I Refused To Try

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Yes, it tastes as good as it looks. I never would have believed it!

My kids joke that I am anti-everything.  I simply refuse to go with the flow and do what everyone else is doing.  I know for certain that this stems from growing up as a shy child.  Don’t ever tell a shy kid to “Smile!  You look like your dog just died.”  The shy kid may not be as miserable as she looks, just lost in thought.  I guarantee such comments will ruin her day.  And telling a shy, sensitive kid not take things personally is even worse.  A shy and sensitive kid who questions authority and everything else she is spoon-fed in a private, fanatically religious school will feel even more rebellious.  Spending nearly a decade as a military spouse after shaking off the irritants of the past two decades won’t help the “problem” any.  Don’t tell me what to do, I’ll NEVER do it.  But I will if I want to.  So there.  Sticking my tongue out at the world.  😉

Avocado chocolate pudding?  Agave syrup?  Sugar is sugar is sugar.  Well, raw sugar is raw sugar is raw sugar and I only use turbinado and raw honey, except for on those special occasions when only white flour and sugar will do, as in birthday cake making.  You’d never convince me that eating a bowl of chocolate guacamole would trick me into thinking I was eating chocolate pudding.  Then came the GAPS Diet…

I was halving an avocado for my sons to share this afternoon when I decided that it would be more fun to give it to them in the form of that vegan chocolate pudding recipe I’ve been avoiding, to see if it was any good.  Holy cow!  I found when I licked my spatula that it was indeed, and quickly divided it up into four portions, rather than two.  My three fellows sat mmm-ing, sighing, eyebrows raised in question, wondering at my sneaky grin.  Where did she get chocolate pudding?!  My husband, who had never been brave enough to try the mushy green fruit (anyone who follows this blog knows he avoids green edible plant material when possible), nearly licked his sundae dish clean.  I waited until after everyone was done before I told them it was made from avocados. They all asked for more.  There wasn’t any more.  There is another avocado in the fridge…

And I must mention that we are NOT a vegan family.  Grilled lamb kebabs for dinner!

Most of the recipes for this overblogged delight are the same so I don’t even know who to give credit to for this idea.  Who was the first?  I don’t know.  Here’s my version.

Orange Chocolate Pudding~ Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Vegan, GAPS Friendly

1 avocado.  Peeled.  Pit removed.

1/4 c. Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa (so much better than regular, and better for you)

1/4 c. honey

1/4 c. water (milk, almond milk, whatever)

1/2 tsp. orange extract

Pink Himalayan salt to taste.

Method:

Puree in food processor.

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You can have dessert first!  Mmmmm-azing!

028 Yield: App. 4, 1/4 c. servings

Wilted Spinach with Lemony White Beans and Asiago

104 We’ve been very slowly reintroducing legumes into our diets after avoiding them for a while.  First it was lentils.  We added those in the wrong way, raw and ground into flour, rather than soaked and cooked, but suffered no gastric discomfort or ill effects.  Then it was garbanzo flour.  This came about when my lentil pappadums were an utter failure and I needed to add the garbanzo flour to stiffen up the dough and keep the rounds from sticking to my board when I was rolling them out.  Tonight it was white beans.  I’d intended to use them last week but it never happened.

My husband has been watching a lot of Gordon Ramsay with me.  We love all of his shows.  On one episode of his new cooking show he made cannellini beans with tarragon on grilled ciabatta.  My husband loves beans in any form and has been asking me to make him a dish similar to Gordon’s when we finally got around to adding back legumes.  I’ve wanted my Lemony White Bean Hummus every time I’ve seen the dried white beans sitting in the pantry.  Both dishes are intended to be eaten with bread and seemed as if they would be a little lackluster without it, but my husband and I are avoiding grains and bread for the time being.  To spruce things up, I came up a with a dish that was similar to each of the ones we were longing for and added in spinach to give it a little more substance.

It made for a harmonious supper.  Hopefully digestion will progress as smoothly.  If not…well I guess our rumbling, squawking bellies will be harmonizing in the still of the night as we try to sleep.  Hopefully there won’t be a trumpet solo from my husband’s side of the bed.

Ingredients:

2 T extra virgin olive oil

1 clove minced garlic

2 c. baby spinach leaves

1 1/2 c. cooked white beans

Salt and Pepper

Lemon juice

Asiago

Method:

Heat the oil in a skillet.  Saute the garlic in the oil until translucent.  Very quickly wilt the spinach in the oil and garlic.

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Add in the beans and smash a portion of them with the back of a spoon.  Stir the ingredients together, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

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Plate.  Add a squeeze of lemon juice and shaved asiago to each portion.

Makes 4 side dish servings.