Fleurir Hand Grown Chocolates
While many of you readers are familiar with Artfully Chocolate and Kingsbury Chocolates that are based in Alexandria, I bet there are many of you who didn’t realize that Old Town has its very own chocolatiers. Fleurir (pronounced “flurryier”-this is as close to the Hooked on Phonics pronunciation I could come up with) Hand Grown Chocolates is located at 724 Jefferson Street, just a half block off of South Washington Street.
I was unable to personally interview the owners, Robert Ludlow and wife Ashley, since they were on a long overdue vacation; I did, however, have the pleasure of visiting with Michelle Whittaker (referred to as the master-knitter) while she was manning the store and getting ready for the upcoming Easter rush. I did garner from talking with her and from this fun establishments website/blog that they have a great sense of humor and really love what they do. According to the site, “Robert is the mad genius behind Fleurir – not mad as in angry, but mad as in wildly creative and remarkably disorganized….”. I like that in a person. They obviously operate with a very capable team.
A bit of history….their original store was located in Georgetown for several years before they decided to move to Old Town where they could have an onsite kitchen. All of their products are made in-house right on Jefferson Street. This includes not only retail but online and custom orders as well. I am amazed at what they put out of that relatively small space! It would be fun to watch them when they are in full truffle making mode!
They produce over 18 different kinds of truffles as well as 7 chocolate bars, 3 kinds of handmade marshmallows and three different flavors of hot chocolate mix. All of their candies have a version of a “born on” date. Freshness is of utmost important to these folks since they use only fresh ingredients and there are absolutely no preservatives of any kind in any of their products. Any chocolate that reaches an expiration date is recycled into a display or pulled from the shelves.
The Truffles: Each flavor has an edible topping that indicates what is inside – see the pic of the Wattleseed Toffee truffle. A much more creative and sophisticated version of the identifiers in the boxes of Whitmann chocolates most of us grew up with. They are very pretty to look at and definitely as “exciting to look at as they are to eat”. See the website for the low down on all 18.
The Chocolate Bars: I found these very intriguing in that they are “regional” in nature. There is the Northwest (chai tea in mild chocolate), Southwest (spicy chili and cinnamon in dark chocolate blend), Great Plains (salted breadcrumb in dark chocolate blend), Midwest (Michigan cherry and black walnut in dark chocolate blend), South (hickory smoked caramel and crispy bacon in milk chocolate), Northeast (maple pecan toffee in dark chocolate blend). They also have a Georgetown Bar (butterscotch toffee and salted pretzels in dark chocolate blend) and will be coming out with an Alexandria Bar this year. Michelle didn’t divulge what could possibly be in it – guess it’s supposed to be a surprise. Also, on the chocolate bar horizon are Wine Bars – there will be five, flavor infused chocolate bars created to compliment your favorite wine.
The Handmade Marshmallows: I love handmade marshmallows. I even have a good friend and baker extraordinaire, Shannon Koprovich-Jones of Royal Icing fame, who makes her own marshmallows. It is a real talent. Fleurir makes regular vanilla, chocolate and peppermint. All of these would be nice floating on top of a cup of hot cocoa or smooshed in a Smore!
The Cocoa Mixes: Bitter Sweet (a velvety combo of four chocolates, house made vanilla sugar and a touch of sea salt) and Spiced White (white chocolate with a hint of almond, nutmeg and clove).
Crispy Honeycomb (golden honeycomb made with Virginia honey wrapped in dark chocolate) rounds out the offerings at Fleurir. This sounds like a fantastic combination. I believe I will try it on my next visit to the store!
As I mentioned earlier, they are gearing up for the upcoming Easter season. They have a specialty “World Famous” chocolate bunny and a surprise chocolate Easter egg – a chocolate egg inside another chocolate egg – that I think would make a very fun addition to anyone’s Easter basket!
I encourage you to check out the store and taste some fantastic chocolate and let us know what you think! I doubt that you will be disappointed!
Written by: Lani Gering