Easter is coming around the corner very soon. For those who do celebrate this religiously and gave up chocolates or alcoholic beverages for Lent, I guess this is your list of things you could try when Easter arrives. For everyone else, this is something to indulge for that holiday weekend.
As a longtime fan of La Maison du Chocolat, you can never go wrong with this luxurious French chocolate house. Their small praline egg coffret ($56) might be steep in terms of pricing but you’re getting superbly made chocolates. Underneath the pastel foil, it will unravel to a wee chocolate egg that is wonderfully crisp from the praline mixed with the utterly rich and smooth dark chocolate.
DeBrand Fine Chocolates creates very well made chocolates, based out in Indiana. They create beautiful molded truffles year-round (photographed is the 12-piece Truffle Collection ($36)) that are luxuriously rich that one or two should satisfy a sweet craving (unless you’re like me, the entire box will suffice). The filled chocolate eggs (photographed are peanut butter, raspberry, and caramel, $2.75 each) and dark chocolate mini bunnies make great gifts for children or part of an Easter gift basket.
Moonstruck Chocolate arguably makes one of the most precious Easter handmade chocolate truffles I’ve seen in a while. The ones above are the Lamb (4-piece $15), Bunnies and Eggs (6-piece $25), and Spring Fling Truffle Collections (4-piece $4.95 and 5-piece $10).
These truffles are both very adorable (or pretty if you’re referring to the Spring Fling collection) and flavorful. Frankly, when I ate one of the bunny truffles, I almost had a hard time eating them just because they’re too darn cute.
Zoë’s Chocolate has a whimsical, handmade large chocolate egg ($14.75) that is has an adorable bunny that is filled with gianduja (hazelnut chocolate) that is cushioned with paper nesting. You can have both solid dark chocolate (the egg) and a sweeter, nutty chocolate kick (the bunny) all in one confection. Large enough to be shared.
In case you don’t have enough of those charming gianduja bunnies from the large chocolate egg, the 5-piece box called The Bunny Hop ($19) could fulfill your need of sweet chocolate and hazelnut. Their signature chocolates (4-piece box $7) have Mediterranean inspired flavors (such as Dionysus Baklava, Orange Flower, Aegean Pistachio, and many others) that could transport you to the sunny, warm climes staring out into the azure seas.
Moving to more grown-up ideas there is wine and spirits that you may want to pair for Sunday brunch or dinner.
The Valdo Nerello Mascalese Brut Rosé (SRP $16) is a blended Prosecco sparkling wine. It begins with light aromas of strawberry, raspberry and pear along with some floral notes. The wine tastes fruity featuring pear, strawberry and apple flavors along with some additional doughy notes (yeast) and good bubbles. It ends with a nice, easy finish. Overall a really nice rosé option for a sparkling wine.
Los Vascos Grande Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (SRP $20) has deep ruby red color. Complex fruity nose, ripe cherries and blackberries, firm figs and notes of cedar, tobacco, cinnamon, white pepper, mint and bitter chocolate. Well-structured on the palate, offering remarkable balance, volume and consistency.
Aruma 2010 Malbec (SRP $18) 100% Malbec from Argentina’s signature varietal in a joint venture between Chateau Lafite Rothschild and Nicolas Catena. The nose displays youthful aromas of freshly crushed blackberry intermixed with black cherries and licorice. Medium to full bodied and possessing plenty of richness, the palate displays fully ripened flavours of blackberry, black cherry, earthy cedar and spice. Slightly dryish but perfectly balanced tannins with long aftertaste of dark cherry, dried meat, earth and spicy cedar.
La Petite Fontaine Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2010 (SRP $13) Côtes du Rhône, France. It has a dark ruby color; fleshy, spiced and macerated blackberries, black currants and plums; smoke, plush but somewhat rustic tannins, very earthy and minerally. Simple and direct. Tasty and good paired with burgers, grilled sausages and the like.
Les Charmes Unoaked Chardonnay (SRP $16) Golden yellow with green highlights, clear and bright. Aromas floral and fruity mixed with notes of hazelnut, honey, acacia and citrus. Great finesse, rich wine, full, velvety with a slightly spicy flavor. Pairs well with appetizers, pastries, petit fours; fish and poultry.
Emiliana “Natura” Organic Carménère 2010 (SRP $17) begins with woody aromas of black cherry, toffee and black pepper. The wine tastes juicy and velvety smooth with dark fruit, spice and a good bit of oak. The wine ends with good juicy fruit flavor plus nice tannins that resolve into coffee notes that linger for awhile. Fairly good, but this wine may still be a little young.
Emiliana “Natura” Unoaked Chardonnay 2011 (SRP $16) was quite earthy and had little oak-y character for a Chardonnay but very drinkable.
Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (SRP $12) remarkable bouquet of cassis, cherries, and blackberries, complex overtones of cacao and spices with a lingering finish. It is well structured, perfectly balanced and boasts a satisfying and lingering finish. Dark and deep red color. Appealing red cherries and black plums with a touch of toasty oak.
Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (SRP $13) Pale yellow colour with green hues, very bright and clean. Fresh, citric scent with presence of pears, lime and some tropical touches with a greenish finish thanks to the presence of green apples. It’s an elegant wine due to the intensity and balanced acidity. The citric characteristics from the coastal areas of the Central Valley stand out. It is fresh afrom the beginning to the end, where the balance of fruit and acidity refresh the palate.
Angel’s Envy Bourbon Whiskey (SRP $45) is one of the most exciting and delicious bourbons to come on the market in recent years. Angel’s Envy uses the unique process of finishing their bourbon in port wine barrels. Designed by Lincoln Henderson, the former Brown Forman master distiller and creator of Woodford Reserve, Angel’s Envy is the culmination of over 40 years experience in the distilling industry.
Angel’s Envy offers a soft, gentle and with aromas of warm caramels, satsumas, brown sugar and praline, the bouquet is a study in subtle complexities. It has a rich mouthfeel and a sumptuous banquet of flavors on the palate. The port influence is most evident here, providing solid flavors of walnut and oak, orange marmalade, fresh mint and Seville orange. Long, lingering and utterly and an delicious finish.
Breckenridge Distillery is unique for being 9,600 feet above sea level in Breckenridge, Colorado. The mineral-rich snowmelt water used for proofing gives this hooch a richness and depth of flavor hard to find at lower altitudes. Their Bourbon Whiskey (SRP $48) is distilled three times and contains 36% rye, 54% corn and 10% barley and aged for about 3 years with 86 proof. It was awarded at 2011 International Wine and Spirits Competition in the United Kingdom and was named one of the top three Bourbon’s in the world.
This brown spirit has pronounced aromas of oak, brown sugar, baked apple and banana lead to a balanced, medium bodied palate of corn, dried fruit, ginger and oak, complemented by spicy notes of white pepper. Undertones of sweet vanilla and honey enhance the spicy, fruit-forward finish. Since Kentucky Derby isn’t too far from now, this bourbon would make an excellent mint julep.
Breckenridge Distillery Vodka ($30) Distilled from grain and bottled at 80 proof, this is a nicely clean and traditional vodka, with a nose of medicinal spirit and a touch of cedar needles. The body is quite a bit more easygoing — a medicinal (but quite pleasant) core, almost burnt sugar/crème brûlée sweetness, and hints of evergreen on the finish. Great balance, with a lovely, rich body. This is a fantastic vodka, and it’s not just because of the clever, lift ticket-inspired bottle hanger.
White Pike Whiskey (SRP $40) is from Schuyler County, NY, the just-released White Pike Whiskey is the alcoholic child of Mother Industries, a New York based creative company that was excited by the emerging culture of craft distilleries. The whiskey is matured for 18 minutes. White Pike Whiskey is a refined, flavorful spirit handcrafted from corn, spelt and malted wheat. It’s incredibly easy drinking despite its young age, with bright notes of naturally sweet corn lingering through the smooth finish.
The original Bols Genever (SRP $40) has crystalline clarity, a lush medium-weight body and captivating malty, floral and fresh cherry aromas. Its initial approach is cool and slightly spicy before quickly bathing the palate with a generous helping of citrus, malt and black pepper. The juniper makes an appearance during the warm lingering finish. The genever is surgically balanced with just a touch of sweetness and features an intriguing well-integrated palate.
The Bols Genever Barrel Aged Genever (SRP $50) is a blend of genevers that have spent time in French oak. The youngest genever in the blend is 18 months, with genevers as old as 15 years in the mix. It’s tasting age, or how it tastes against equivalently aged is around 3-5 years old. Aging the genever adds the wonderful notes of the French oak to the mix and enhances the genever’s whiskey-like character.
To view more photos, please click through the slideshow (or view my Flickr set):
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