|Passion of the Sea Truffle|
When I think about Gaithersburg, Maryland, I do not conjure up a chocolate factory in my mind. I used to live there once upon a time, so I should know, but I am happy to be wrong. Not only does SPAGnVOLA have a chocolate factory there, they provide regularly scheduled tours of their factory. It’s not a big factory, but it’s thoughtful and enough for my corner of the world.
As you know, I’m not a big chocolate fan but I do appreciate really good chocolate. SPAGnvVOLA chocolate is delicious and I’m already planning numerous boxes for holiday presents.
SPAGnVOLA (pronounced spang-vola), means Hispaniola in Criole and refers to the island where the Dominican Republic is located. SPAGnVOLA is a single-estate chocolatier with a cacao farm in the Domincan Republic. The process they employ is organic from start to finish. The Gaithersburg facility is called the Truffle Factory and you can see why from the photos. They also serve gelato and coffee.
On my last trip to Paris, I remember walking by more than one chocolate shop and gaping, unable to move simply because the chocolate looked so incredibly beautiful. I cannot tell you how much it pleases me to have such a shop so close to me. Aside from the product being delicious, the shop is well appointed, the factory meticulously clean and organized, and the staff friendly and knowledgeable.
|Justin Brooks giving a tour. Kids get the front row.|
Our tour was led by SPAGnVOLA’s marketing director, Justin Brooks, who talked about and showed us how the chocolate is prepared from pod to truffle. The tour is not long, but Justin packs in a lot of information and makes it interesting. Tours are free and conducted Saturday and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. We also got a little taste of chocolate, which only made me want to buy their chocolate. The factory also has two-hour chocolate making classes (again, a possible holiday gift).
A few blog posts ago, I wrote about the chef’s table dinner at Rasika West End and mentioned how a little inside knowledge enhances a meal and a dining experience. In that vein, I think the factory tour is a stroke of genius. It’s been done, but why isn’t it done more? You become intimate with the process and the product, the passion of the owners, you’re offered a taste, and boom! You’re in. Brand Loyalty 101.
Take the tour, buy some chocolate. You won’t be sorry.
360 Main Street
Gaithersburg, Maryland 20878
|Cacao from SPAGnVOLA's AgroCriso Estate in the Dominican Republic|
|SPAGnVOLA's chocolate is 70% cacao and 30% pure cane sugar|
This process goes on for days. And smells incredible.