Specialty Chocolates for Valentine’s Day
It doesn’t take much proof to know that love and chocolate are engaged in a not-so-secret love affair. No time is that more apparent than in February when Valentine’s Day rolls around. As the Beatles sang, “All you need is love,” but Peanuts’ Charles Schultz added to that, “but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” Wooing a sweetheart on Valentine’s Day usually means a card, flowers and a candlelight dinner. Most likely, it also means the sweet, divine, melt-in-your-mouth experience known as chocolate. Shops throughout Benicia and Vallejo offer a large selection of chocolate bars, truffles and chocolate hearts to put a smile on the lips of a loved one.
Benicia’s Bastion of Chocolate
Benicia is a bastion for chocolate of all shapes, flavors and types. At Studio 41, the chocolate selection is its own art form. A huge assortment of gourmet and handcrafted chocolates are on hand in stunning displays. John Kelly, Moonstruck, Lake Champlain, Vosage, Frans and others are available in an array of flavors such as grey salt, Hawaiian salt, coconut, jalapeno, turmeric, and bacon, to name just a few, says owner Leah Perry Shelhorn. Studio 41 also sells fine chocolate caramels, hot chocolate mixes, chocolate sauces and decadent marshmallows with chocolate and salted caramel inside.
Alongside the guitars and the music, science and art gift store at Mozart Einstein & Me, customers will find an assortment of standard and unusual goodies from the Humboldt Chocolate factory out of Eureka, California. At Bookshop Benicia, owner Christine Mayall has found books and chocolate make a great pair. She offers a wide selection of Theo chocolates, an organic and fair trade brand out of Seattle. At the Southampton Center, Steve’s Hallmark has a large case of yummy truffles and individual chocolate baggies to create the perfect Valentine assortment.
Annual Wine & Chocolate Walk
Chocolate is also on track at Benicia Main Street—which, in addition to selling a large assortment of boxed See’s Candies—is offering its annual Wine & Chocolate Walk in downtown Benicia, capturing the spirit of Valentine’s Day. The Feb. 4 afternoon event gives attendees a chance to taste chocolate and wine pairings in many First Street shops. The goal is to meander from shop to shop and enjoy an array of chocolate treats like truffles, cookies, brownies, fudge and chocolate fondue, along with wine selected to pair well with them. Ticket prices include a complimentary wine glass and up to 15 tastes. Go to beniciamainstreet.org for more details.
Vallejo’s Old-Fashioned Candy Store
In Vallejo, giant chocolate hearts are a traditional Valentine’s Day specialty at Liled’s Candy Kitchen. The old-fashioned candy store on Tennessee Street dates back to 1936, with a kitchen where the chocolates and ice cream are made from scratch. Today, husband and wife team Evon and Vaughn Hardiman run the shop, determined to preserve the store’s tradition. They bought the business (along with its recipes) eleven years ago. Valentine’s Day is a big deal for Liled’s, Evon Hardiman said. The cases are filled with truffles, fudge, chocolate mints and more. On the shelves are boxes of chocolates and flavored milk chocolate hearts. Of the chocolate-themed holiday, Evon said, “It’s fun. It’s a lot of work but it’s a lot of fun, too.”
700 First Street
Mozart, Einstein & Me
620 First Street
636 First Street
844 Southampton Road
Benicia Main Street
90 First Street
Liled’s Candy Kitchen
1318 Tennessee St, Vallejo, CA 94590
Companion alt photo text: Chocolate with sea salt is just one of Benicia’s many specialty choices.