I just happened to be down in Seattle’s Pioneer Square last Friday and decided to finally track down Intrigue Chocolates, a chocolatier which specializes in French-style truffles. I have known about Intrigue and its owner Aaron Barthel ever since I played an open house at Davenport Cellars, one of the plentiful boutique wineries here in Woodinville, and I have run into him a couple times since. So, mobile Google Maps in hand, I discovered his lair. It is sort of hard to find, but totally worth it. They don’t have a storefront on the street. Rather, you go up a stair and down a hallway and then ring a bell to be let in. Having to hunt for the place lends to the intrigue, don’t you think? (Pun intended!) And it means you are serious about chocolate! (And who shouldn’t be?)
Aaron has been in business for about seven years. After earning a BA in ecology and botany, he “stumbled” into making chocolate truffles through a recipe in a horticulture magazine. Some friends started a catering business and hired him to make their breads and also feature his truffles. “Starting to develop my techniques and recipes as an employee was a great way to begin,” Aaron told me, and after a year or so, he then took the plunge to start Intrigue. After several years working out of a combination of his and his friend’s living spaces, he consolidated his operation into the current location at 76 S. Washington Street.
How does one describe his creations? To quote a Pioneer Square blog post: A defining quality of Aaron’s chocolates is how fresh and natural they are, as they are often organic and local. New flavors rotate in and out according to season.The truffles are not to be munched on in the conventional sense, but are designed to melt in your mouth. The truffles lack the distracting hard shell and are dusted with cocoa power, leaving the taster to discover the complex flavors of the chocolate as it melts. Aaron is generous with his samples, and I tried several. Each one seems to tell a story as it gently melts in the mouth. Being the frugal sort I am, I bought only two of the Vrai Chai truffles, and now I’m kicking myself for not buying more. I guess it gives me an excuse to return soon, don’t you think?
They have a lovely website, aptly named www.intriguechocolates.com and be sure to sign up for their newsletter so you can keep abreast of events where his chocolates are featured. Oh, and did I mention that their chocolate is 100% organic and from sources which follow ethical and fair trading practices? All the more reason to pay them a visit!
A little hard to find, but impossible to forget…
Top photo courtesy of Share the Square blog at www.pioneersquare.org.