I think the greatest irony of my short life is that when I was a young child, too young to enjoy alcoholic beverages, my father worked for a beer distributor. Wait, it doesn’t end there. About the time I was approaching the age at which most people begin to have an interest in alcohol, my father left the beer world and entered the candy distribution business. Perhaps though, after giving a great deal of thought to this chain of events (and I have given it all a lot of thought), the way things worked out might have been for the best. Had my dad worked in candy while I was young, and beer when I was a young adult, I quite possibly could have become a diabetic-alcoholic. Though truthfully, I don’t think anybody who likes sweets ever really gets too old to enjoy candy, especially good chocolate. Case in point: Chilmark Chocolates.
Located in the town of Chilmark, on the southwestern corner of Martha’s Vineyard, resides the island’s foremost purveyor of quality chocolates, Chilmark Chocolates. Yesterday we made the drive across the island to perform a little bit of quality control for the people of this good earth, just to make sure the folks at Chilmark aren’t slipping when it comes to the excellence of their craft (wink, wink). The shop itself is housed in a cute little house that sits just off from a beautiful tree lined road (at times it seems as though almost all good things on this island can be found in cute little houses that sit just off a beautiful tree lined road). If the local residents themselves hadn’t already succeed in convincing me of the superiority of this place, I knew there was something special going on once I saw the huge line of people that stretched out the front door and into the parking lot. So we took our place in line, trying our best to convince ourselves that we were really earning our chocolate by waiting faithfully in the hot August sun.
Finally it was out turn to enter the shop, and upon entering I felt an intense sense of panic. Two huge wood and glass cases stretched across the main counter of the tiny little shop. Behind the counter Chilmark employees busily restocked the cases, while others shouted “Who’s ready?” to waiting customers. To say the experience was overwhelming would be a huge understatement. There were many different flavors to choose from, and while most customers I assume have been through this song and dance many times before, I was a newbie, and I wanted to read each and every flavor prior to selecting my assortment of ‘samples.’ Half a minute goes by, and an employee has already talked Ali and me into buying a quarter pound of chocolates (which in the end translated into eight pieces of chocolate at a price of approximately $1/oz.). Just as quickly as we were tricked into deciding upon the amount of chocolate we were to buy, I began hastily giving my order. I went the traditional route, deciding upon a milk chocolate square, dark chocolate square, and dark chocolate-peanut butter fudge. My rationale was that you should really be able to judge the skill of a chocolatier based how well they can perform the standards. Ali on the other hand chose to cater to her wild and well developed palate, opting for a dark chocolate coconut cluster, dark chocolate candied peach, Menemsha crunch (dark chocolate with Grape Nuts cereal), almond butter toffee, and milk chocolate caramel. As for the quality of the chocolates, we’ll just say that the box didn’t last us the short drive home. All were good, though I would say that the ‘standards’ I thought I would be able to judge Chilmark by, didn’t even compare to the goodness of the more creative flavors Ali chose.
We fly back to Portland late this afternoon, and are very excited to resume work on the café. It has been a fantastic trip, and we feel we did an adequate job carrying out some ‘market research’ each day we spent away from home. Check back in for a Best of Martha’s Vineyard Eating recap in the coming days.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 6:54 AM