Follow Karen on her Bike Ride! May 21 2018
Our Master Chocolatier, Karen Neugebauer, is off on an adventure! You can find her website here
Stay tuned for more updates!
Our Master Chocolatier, Karen Neugebauer, is off on an adventure! You can find her website here
Stay tuned for more updates!
As we work on our downtown Mount Vernon shop (reopening soon!), please visit our kitchen showroom for all your chocolate needs! Located just down the street from downtown, our hours beginning Monday, October 2nd, will be Monday-Saturday, 10 am-6pm. Do you work downtown? We will deliver for free! Call us at 360-982-2159 to place an order.
Don't forget your Golden Ticket bar while you're here--you could win free chocolate for a whole year!
You're invited to a special Forte Chocolate experience at our Bellingham and Mount Vernon retail locations. Stop by our stores for Stocking Stuffer Saturday on December 19th to enjoy a warm refreshment, fill your stockings, and shop all of our wonderful seasonal products!
This year give the gift of chocolate with our perfect selection of Stocking Stuffer Ideas:
Hot Chocolate will be available from 2:00-8:00, taste chocolate from around the world featuring samples from our connoisseur Volta line, and shop a variety of in-store specials including, buy four bars and get a fifth one of equal or lesser value for free!
Mark your calendars, make your wishlist, and share with your friends!
The title of this blog could mean multiple things. Number one, we have hit record temperatures for a record number of consecutive days here in Washington State, so maybe the title means I really want it to RAIN because 90 degrees is not what we are used to here! The rain would be nice because my lawn looks like the color of our Old World Caramels, and we aren’t able to attend the Mount Vernon Farmer’s Market today because it’s just too hot to have chocolate outside! So, yes rain would be nice! OR, ‘Make It Rain’ could suggest the name of a cool truffle making technique that I got to witness while in the kitchen one day! If you guessed the later, you’re right!
While in the kitchen a few weeks ago, I got to see a technique our Artisans use while making our truffle shells. Our Master Chocolatier, Karen, called it “Chocolate Rain!” She said the white chocolate looks way cooler than the dark or milk chocolate, which I agree, it looks really really cool! Our Artisan, Lindsay, was making our Honey Lemon Truffles. She painted the inside of the truffle tray and then poured the chocolate in to the tray, let it sit and then flipped it over, making chocolate rain! This technique is how we got the shell for the Honey Lemon Truffle! In the next kitchen over, our other Artisan, Taylor, was busy making Pecan Caramels! The smell when I walked in to the kitchen was AMAZING!!!!!! A few minutes sitting in that kitchen and every little kid, and or dog, would probably run up to me on the street because I smelled so wonderfully sweet!
(chocolate rain and making Pecan Caramels)
Speaking of caramels, let’s talk about that word. How do you say it? I have always said it so it sounds like CARMEL, but I was quickly corrected my first time at Forte for saying it wrong. All these years, I thought I was saying it right, but NO, it is not CARMEL, it is CARE-UH-MEL!! It’s kind of like tomato vs toe-mah-toe or how do you say Caribbean? Like when I say Pirates of the Caribbean, I say it one way, but when I say I’m going on a Caribbean cruise, I say it a different way! Does that make sense? So what is the right way to say CARAMEL? Think of it like this……if you say it as CARMEL without placing that last ‘A’ in there after the ‘R’, then you might be referring to a place such as Carmel California, where Clint Eastwood was once Mayor. The proper way to reference the candy would be pronouncing the second ‘A’ phonetically broken down like this; CARE-UH-MEL. Got it? Now if you come in to the Forte stores and you say this word the incorrect way, nobody is going to correct you, just know that you are saying it wrong and trust me, it’s very hard to fix a bad habit after 36 years! J
Now that you have seen how our Honey Lemon Truffle is made and you’ve learned how to say caramel the correct way, I invite you to come in to one of our stores, or visit our website www.ForteChocolates.com and purchase one of each of these items to try. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!
Ok, so now you know I love wine and chocolate, but did you know I also love special events? I love attending fundraising events, I love attending fun family events and I also love putting on special events of all kinds! Bringing people together to learn something new, support something that they are passionate about or bringing people together to just have fun, is a passion of mine. So, why not do the same with chocolate and host some CHOCOLATE EVENTS!
Forte’s Master Chocolatier, Karen Neugebauer, is so talented and full of chocolate knowledge, so naturally our first event involves her and Chocolate Maker, from Fresco Chocolate, Rob Anderson. You can attend one, two or three of the Chocolate Discoveries sessions. The sessions are going to cover everything from bean to bar and of course you will get to taste chocolate from all over the world! All session details and tickets can be found online by visiting www.frescoandforte.eventbrite.com. The first session begins on July 30th, so don’t delay, tickets are limited.
Our next event that we created is for KIDS! Yes, kids love chocolate too and what better experience than to get to play with chocolate and create something artistic! Our Chocolate Sculpting for Kids event is open for children ages 8-18. This 3 hour session on Saturday, August 1st, will involve kids learning about chocolate, creating their own chocolate sculpture and then having it featured in our Mount Vernon store for the Kids Art Walk on August 6th! This will be a fun event and something different and a nice change from all of the sports camps being offered right now! There are only 10 spots available for this event. More information and tickets must be purchased online at www.chocolatesculptingforkids.eventbrite.com.
In addition to us creating and hosting our own events, did you know we also offer many different opportunities for your business to host events OR for you to bring in a group and host your own private event?
If you own a business and want to host an after hour event and you don’t want to hold it at your office or home, consider hosting it in our Mount Vernon store location! Of course we will help you out by providing tables, chairs and CHOCOLATE! The same goes for personal events such as birthday parties, bachelorette parties, celebrations etc! Pretty much any celebration you can think of, we can host it! Ever thought about having your child’s birthday party in our production kitchen and having them create their own chocolate bar? Yes, we do that! Ever thought about treating your sweetheart to a private chocolate sculpting experience? Yes, we do that too! Want to announce a new product or service to existing or new clients? Make your announcement while enjoying chocolate! We guarantee they will show up! ;-)
The possibilities for events involving chocolate are endless and you are lucky enough to have Forte Chocolates in your backyard to help satisfy all of your chocolate event cravings!! So, we want to hear from you! What types of events would you be interested in seeing US host or what types of events would YOU be interested in hosting? Being that we are local, we can usually be creative and make anything happen. Please shoot me an email with your thoughts at email@example.com.
WINE & CHOCOLATE…..YES PLEASE!
If you know me, then you know that I love wine. For me, there is really no better food to go with wine than chocolate, and maybe a little cheese!
I haven’t been blogging the past few weeks because I have been busy on vacation with family. When my little family goes on a vacation, we don’t go far from home, we head over the mountains to Chelan! Chelan is one of our favorite places to visit and camp and when I say camp I really mean “GLAMP!” Yes, we have a 29 ft trailer complete with a tv and air conditioning. When you’re camping in 109 degree weather, like we were a few weeks ago, the air conditioning and tv are a necessity, since you spend a lot of time in the trailer. The other places we spend a lot of time at, while glamping in Chelan, are the wineries!
The wineries in Chelan are some of the best! The views from the wineries overlooking the lake are the best, the owners of the wineries and their stories about how they came to be are the best and of course their local wine is the best! The only thing a lot of them are missing to go with that great wine, is a little chocolate! Hopefully some of these wineries will be carrying some Forte Chocolate bars for you to enjoy while sipping their wine, very soon.
(wine tasting from Siren Song Winery in Chelan)
Once I returned home from glamping in Chelan, it was back to business as usual and off to an event in Snohomish. Again focused around wine, the Sunsets in Snohomish Wine Walk is a must if you like to shop while tasting wine! This event takes place once a month starting in June and ending in September. It sold out with 350 people walking through the streets of downtown Snohomish and going in to the host stores shopping and tasting wine and of course our chocolate! Forte was lucky enough to be paired with Claar Cellars in the most wonderful store, Faded Elegance! The owner Kimberly was so sweet and I really could have bought everything in her store for my home! We had a majority of our bars out for sampling and for sale. The wine walkers were drooling over the Lemon Pepper and Rosemary Sea Salt White Chocolate bars! Really, they were drooling over all of the bars, but those were the big hits of the night. Needless to say, we will be back on September 12th for another round of wine and chocolate tasting in Snohomish!
People always ask me which chocolate pairs best with which wines and really, I don’t know! I believe that everyone’s taste buds are different and at these events, I usually tell people to drink what you like with what you like to eat. Really thought, in my opinion, ALL chocolate goes with wine!
Week 3: Chocolate Anniversary Whirlwind
When I first started my job 3 weeks ago, I was given the task of coming up with a one year anniversary celebration for our Bellingham store location! I had one week to pull it all together and get the word out. I like to work under pressure, so I got to work brainstorming what to do!
My biggest challenge for the celebration was figuring out what types of specials would bring people in to the store to help us celebrate. Of course everyone LOVES FREE anything and on a daily basis we have free samples of our bars in the store, so it had to be something even better. So to accomplish this task it was decided, we would give out FREE bars, FREE truffles, FREE liquid truffle shots, FREE samples of one of the rarest chocolates in the World, Fortunato No. 4, FREE wine and a chance to win a FREE chocolate sculpting experience for two!
Our week long celebration started on June 14th and ended on Father’s Day, June 21st. I had the opportunity to spend more time in the store and I was surprised at how many people stopped in that didn’t even know we had a store in Fairhaven! I think the coolest thing about being in the Fairhaven store was getting to hear all about our Fortunato No. 4 Bar.
The Fortunato #4 Bar is one of the rarest chocolates in the World! It is from Nacional cacao, thought to be extinct, and grows in the remote area of northern Peru. Nacional is prone to disease and is very difficult to grow, but it is treasured for its excellent aroma. The Fortunato No. 4 is conched for 60 hours (most chocolate is conched between 8 and 16 hours). The longer conching process brings out the full natural flavor of the white beans. No vanilla, milk or lecithin have been added to this remarkable chocolate. The bar contains 68% cacao and 32% sugar; nothing more! Yes, I had to look up what the word CONCHE means, so here is the definition as pulled from Wikipedia: A conche is a surface scraping mixer and agitator that evenly distributes cocoa butter within chocolate, and may act as a 'polisher' of the particles. The Fortunato No. 4 bar can be purchased in the Mount Vernon or Fairhaven locations OR online.
The other amazing FREE sample we were handing out was our liquid truffle. Basically, take our dark chocolate truffle and put it into liquid form, serve it hot and you have the most amazing liquid chocolate drink you have EVER tasted. EVER. People asked over and over if we would be selling this in our stores and there isn’t a mix or powder that we sell for this, but our goal is to be selling this by the cup when the weather gets a little colder.
Well we pulled it off and it really was a chocolate whirlwind. All in all, I think it was a great one year anniversary celebration in Fairhaven! We got to see many new and old customers, we gave away free chocolate and of course a free chocolate sculpting experience. The winner by the way is BETTY THEILER! If you know Betty, have her call us!
Week 2: Forte Chocolates 101
It was my second week on the job and it was time for me to learn more about our products! This position requires me to spend a couple hours each week in the Mount Vernon store and the Bellingham store. I of course don’t mind this at all since you get to be surrounded by chocolate and great customers who venture in!
First I went to the Mount Vernon store. My goal was to learn about the different products we have in store as well as do a little re arranging and marketing for the store. As I was walking around looking at everything I noticed that some of the “art” that’s in the store is actually CHOCOLATE! When just glancing at these pieces, you would think they were a sculpture purchased at Pottery Barn, but upon closer review, they were made entirely from chocolate! That day I was working with Taylor, who is also one of our Artisans, so he was able to give me a little Chocolate 101 about the sculptures. I asked how long these sculptures last and he basically said, they never go bad, they just bloom. Bloom? Like a flower?? Basically, blooming is when moisture gets on the chocolate and the sugar starts to come out. So the chocolate doesn’t go bad, it just changes texture. There’s also a term of ‘FAT BLOOM!’ Yes, I know what you’re thinking…..interesting term. Anyways, it means that the chocolate was wrongly tempered or there was an extreme heat difference and it damages the crystal structure……yep, that one was a little out of my league!
So take a look at these different items, can you tell which ones are chocolate?
chocolate sculpture, pods or table? You will have to venture in to the Mount Vernon store to find out the answer!
My next stop was Bellingham. Fairhaven is always buzzing with locals and visitors walking the streets, so working in the store is always exciting. I got to work with Gabriel who had lots of great ideas for preparing the store for our one year anniversary celebration and he was very informative when it came to teaching myself and the customers about the different products! While in the store, people enjoyed sampling all of our bars and our Tiger Bark, which is an amazing combination of white chocolate and peanut butter swirled with dark chocolate! Yes, I did just say that, it is the most amazing flavor combination EVER! Oh and did I mention it is topped with some sparkly edible gold glitter? White chocolate, peanut butter, dark chocolate and glitter……need I say more? I am a huge fan of rosemary and the Rosemary Sea Salt Bar in White Chocolate is one of my absolute favorites….until I met the Rosemary Caramel with Orange. This yummy item was the 2013 Academy of Chocolate GOLD winner! You really can’t go wrong with this one!
As I mentioned above, our Fairhaven location is celebrating its ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY! We have great specials going on in store all week, which you can find on our Facebook page. I am also personally, not publically, inviting you, my friends, to our Friday night celebration in the Fairhaven store from 6-8pm. There will be wine tasting, chocolate tasting, chocolate truffle shots and all visitors will be entered to win a chocolate sculpting experience for two! It’s also the Fairhaven Solstice Art Walk, so there will be lots of other things going on in the neighborhood to take advantage of. It's also Father's Day on Sunday, so don't forget to take home a gift or two for Dad!
Please stop by this week or on Friday evening as we ‘CELEBRATE LIFE THROUGH CHOCOLATE’ and you might even get a little chocolate 101 lesson!