Shawn Williams, the chocolatier who formerly owned Au Coeur des Chocolats, threw an open-kitchen tasting for the launch of his new San Francisco-based chocolate company Feve a few weeks ago. We got a preview of some of the goodies.
Overall, the presentation and aesthetic is very nice. Artful shapes range from a perfectly represented espresso bean to a slouched sphere reminiscent of a bean bag chair, and are complemented with the kind of delicate painting, etching, swooshing, and carving one would expect from a high-end chocolatier.
For all the vibrancy in presentation, flavors tend toward the subtle, though some overpower the more delicate notes of the chocolate couverture. Here's the lowdown on the line (we marked our favorites with an asterisk):
Milk-chocolate-covered peanut butter stick: A double-size Twix-shaped bar covered in milk chocolate. The grainy peanut butter filling is thick and a bit dusty-tasting, though tiny nubs of peanut add nice texture.
*Dark-chocolate-covered peanut butter stick (pictured): Dark chocolate stands up to the chunky and assertive peanut butter far better than the milk chocolate, creating an almost roasted flavor with a touch of salt.
Orange peel: Matchsticks of candied orange peel covered with dark chocolate. Tastes a bit milder than expected, and a bit waxy.
Ginger in dark chocolate: The taste of candied ginger comes through clean and potent. The chocolate is barely noticeable. This is your pick if you love ginger, but you'd get a similiar flavor from candied ginger alone.
Crunchy Munchy: A bit of hazelnut followed by a rice crisp note and a hint of orange peel in the chocolate. Reminiscent of Ferrero Rocher balls.
*Toffee: Toffee squares covered in chocolate and sprinkled with a pinch of sea salt. Classic, clean toffee flavor, with notes of burnt sugar and lush caramel. Good, buttery, and a bit of salt. Our pick of the batch.
Caramelized almonds (sold by the bag): Toffee almonds with an added dusting of a cocoa. But it's more grownup than the typical bridge mix snack; a bit subtler, less obviously sweet.
Mixed chocolates (sold by the box): Our favorites included the banana caramel, which opens to the tropics with first bite -- banana comes through immediately and obviously -- and the rich and roasty vanilla latte, a tiny demitasse of espresso and cream.
*Sea salt caramel (sold in a box of nine): Lush, runny, and buttery, with a pleasant touch of salt. The caramel's subtle, expressive flavor merges nicely with the chocolate.