terroir

alcohol-15626_640Last night I had the pleasure of attending a holiday mixer hosted by the women of Smith & Gesteland and R.W. Baird & Co.. It was a lovely opportunity to mingle with some of Madison’s most interesting and involved women. The main attraction? Wine and chocolate. There may not be a better combination in the world to guarantee a perfect ladies’ night out.

It was held at the Chocolaterian Café, a charming eastside shop that has been in business about two years. My first visit there was well worth the trip through the Isthmus at rush hour.

Co-owner Leanne Cordisco gave a brief welcome to the group, in which she used the word “terroir.” This was a new one for me and I had to ask her to repeat it and explain further. “Terroir” is a word with French origins that describes a trait shared by wine, coffee, and chocolate. It refers to characteristics of the land and environment that give a product its uniqueness. Foods with terroir have distinct tastes based on where they are from, and true aficionados understand these geographic differences and know how to enhance and complement them.

Even a layperson such as myself can appreciate the fine quality of the confections that are coming out of the Chocolaterian kitchen. I’m already dreaming of a return trip, where I plan to spend more time watching the bakers in action through the window from the dining room and also more time buying instead of just tasting. Their Ugly Cookies are calling my name.

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