Thursday, September 4, 2008

North Carolina Chocolate

Isn't it terrible how we'll travel far away to see things and never notice what's in our own backyard? It's like when you go to New York and the resident New Yorkers have never been to the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building. Unlike the visitor, they take them for granted.

Well, on Labor Day, my friend Carole (she of the bacon flavored chocolate and chocolate Peeps gift) and I went on a mini local ChocoTour. The first place we stopped was Chocolaterie Stam located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Now get this - Stam has 10 stores, 6 in Holland, 3 in Iowa (Iowa - can you believe that?), and one here in North Carolina. The owner, Bob Droog, is from Holland and missed the company's chocolate when he relocated to the US. So he contacted them to see if he could open his own shop. And thank God he did! This place is terrific!!

So far it is hands down the most gorgeous chocolate shop I've been in. (Yes, even more beautiful than the Voges Haut-Chocolat shop in NY.) The color scheme is deep wine and gold. There are crystal chandeliers hanging over the rows of chocolates. And these are some gorgeous chocolates:

I broke the dark chocolate peacock, but look at these! There's a milk chocolate windmill, a dark chocolate butterfly, a milk chocolate frog, a white chocolate ear of corn (Iowa?), and a dark chocolate accordion and a hedgehog!!! I tried to get better pictures of the windmill, the accordion and the hedgehog:

Look at that detail! How amazing are those? And there were many more gorgeous chocolates - cute chocolate mice, peanut butter filled hearts (yum!), and on and on. I can't wait to go back at Easter - Bob said they would have tons of new shapes then. Also the cases were clean and filled - some shops just have that "we used to give a damn" look. Chocolaterie Stam is like a chocolate art gallery - absolutely beautiful.

But here's the best part - the chocolates are to die for! Like the best European chocolates, they are so smooth and creamy, they just melt in your mouth. And the fillings are also delicious - the praline centers were almost fluffy and the caramel - wonderful - the perfect mix of creamy and chewy. The coconut wasn't heavy and grainy, but smotth and subtle. I haven't tried them all yet, but so far they have been fantastic. And I like the classic flavors - some of the chocolatiers these days are trying so hard to come up with new weird stuff that they lose sight of some of the best tried and true flavors. (Do you want squid ink or peanut butter in your chocolate? Give me tradition!)

Their web site is and you can order online.

The lesson is the same as in the motivational classic "Acres of Diamonds" - so many times what you're looking for is right in your own backyard. But we tend to overlook or take those things for granted. Looking for a great new friend? Maybe there's someone who works in the very same office as you who you just haven't taken the time to get to know. Looking to get out of debt? Maybe you need to have a yard sale and sell some of those things you never use. See the incredible things already around you - there might be a chocolate hedgehog just next door!


Heidi said...

I have really learned this lesson first-hand. This year we decided not to do our regular Disney World vacation due to finances. I was really bummed about it but then I realized all of the things around us that we never take for granted in central Kentucky. Plus, we are vacationing at my husband's parents' lake home in Wisconsin this October, which also leads to wonderful discoveries -- I am planning on trekking to the childhood home of Laura Ingalls Wilder, plus indulging in my favorite Northern Lakes delicacy: Walleye Cheek Soup. It is amazing! Yes, I do miss Disney, but this year I have really learned to appreciate the beauty around me in a new way.

Oh, and regarding that hedgehog ... my kid loves hedgehogs. I really need to get him a few of those! He is fanatical about hedgehogs. It's scary.

KiddoKare1 said...

Wow, those chocolates look wonderful. My husband and I try to look for things to do in our area since we usually can't afford to go very far. It's amazing what you can find to do when you look.

Heidi, I am a bit jealous of you visiting Laura Ingalls Wilder's childhood home. I love her!