Lucky New Yorkers! The verē chocolate factory will open to the public beginning Wednesday, December 13th through Friday, December 15th from 10:00a.m. – 6:00p.m. Not only do you get to sneak a peak at one of the most magical processes known to humanity (seeing how cacoa beans eventually become truffles, bars, and brownies, among other treats), but also, all chocolates will be discounted 20%. The factory is located at 12 W. 27th Street, 6th floor, in Manhattan. On-line shoppers get a reduced price on the new verē Classic Truffles and Fruit + Nut Tiles.
verē (pronounced "very") seems to adhere to the artisanal chocolate philosophy birthed at Paris's La Maison du Chocolat and embraced by the likes of Patrick Roger, as well as U.S. chocolatiers such as Richard Donnelley and Michael Mischer (among about a dozen others and more all the time). The focus on couverture and ganache made preservative-free from the freshest ingredients means these morsels have about a two-week shelf life. Without all of the sugar, your mouth experiences the intense chocolate flavors and ganache subtleties. How does verē distinguish itself from the "chocolate as a living food" pack? The company makes a number of claims, including using organic, "natural" ("No additives, chemicals, artificial sugars or sugar alcohols") ingredients, in a gluten-free facility. The cacao is said to be grown under fair trade conditions, "pesticide-free" in the shade of the Ecuadorian Rainforest. No certifying bodies are mentioned on the web site. verē also adds inulin to many products, a "fiber and prebiotic to support the immune system and promote healthy digestion." I know nothing about inulin, and as far as I can tell, most of the other benefits verē offers are true of chocolatiers using a similar approach.
When high quality cacao beans are used, in general they are coming from plantations that don't use chemicals, but have not been certified organic. If you're buying chocolate from an artisanal chocolatier, you are likely getting pesticide-free yumminess. Also, high quality beans do not in general come from the Ivory Coast, where most of the child labor allegations have been made.
In most cases, then, it comes down to the individual chocolatier's alchemy. Do verē Cream, Cognac, Coffee and Earl Grey Tea truffles sound delectable? Like the sound of their Mint and Nibs brownies? I'll be at the factory taste testing tomorrow, and will fill you in on favorites! ::verē