COASTALCOMPANION.COM - Claude's Chocolate Opens 2nd Location
Second Location Opens Where Chocolates are Created! - (February 2008) . Claude’s Chocolate has their new chocolate room ready for tasting, shopping and meeting Claude himself. Claude and Nicole Franques are filling a niche in Ponte Vedra and St. Augustine that is innovative while pioneering a true European-style of luxurious romantic chocolate. There are many reasons to celebrate this opening, most notably by winning the Editor’s Choice Award from Water’s Edge Magazine (August 2007) for ‘best of the best’ chocolates!
The allure of America enticed Claude Franques to leave Toulouse, France for New York City in the 1970’s and become one of America’s fine French chefs. He and his wife Nicole spent nearly 20 years continuing the legacy of Rene Pujol Restaurant in Manhattan, until St. Augustine’s charm and European style beckoned them to stay; here they have created their innovative culinary adventure…Claude’s Chocolate.
Similar to the impeccable, refined approach to dining in New York’s theater district with classic French cuisine in a serene setting, Claude and Nicole’s first chocolate shop in St. Augustine is a masterpiece of fine European chocolates sprinkled with the quaint historic ambience of the ‘oldest city’. Keeping with years of tradition, Claude crafts his chocolates by hand in small quantities, using only the purest ingredients. No detail is overlooked by either of the Franques…the chocolates are a delight to the eye and their petite shop is filled with the fresh, deep aroma of rich Belgian chocolate!
The new Chocolate Room is conveniently located on U.S. #1 midway between St. Augustine and Jacksonville. Claude is on premises daily designing his signature chocolates; it’s a charming shop that features 100+ confections. The shelves are laden with an abundance of visually stunning sweets that have already brought their patrons back daily for a chocolate indulgence. Claude also makes a full-bodied luxurious Belgian chocolate cocoa and the most decadent double chocolate mudslide cookie.
Claude’s passionate appreciation for achieving the proper balance of flavors between the aromatic and flavorful ganache (interiors) and the dark or milk chocolate coatings, results in a flawless little mouthful of heaven. From pecans to hazelnuts, Claude painstakingly roasts all of the nuts in his repertoire. The exotic flavors are numerous… from passion fruit and espresso to fresh coconut and lime. There are 28 varieties, one more uniquely designed than the next. Together they tease anyone to just try one!
Slowly bite into any of Claude’s Chocolate and you could forget that he is a classically certified Chef and pastry chef who has worked in many of the finest hotels and restaurants in France and New York. But there is nothing ‘snobby’ or pretentious here. His techniques and resulting chocolates are pure. The glamorous confections are sophisticated, stylish and absolutely the finest; and when Nicole strolls you through the various signature assortments, she brings an added pleasure to Claude’s world-class gourmet chocolates.
The original St. Augustine shop is on brick-paved Hypolita Street, only a block from St. Augustine’s bayfront, where it’s easy to forget you’re in Florida. The ancient brick fireplace (circa 1912-1915) resembles, not surprisingly, the fireplace in Rene Pujol. Each Friday evening, from 5:00-8:00, the petite chocolate shoppe hosts chocolate & wine tastings, with a sampling of the season’s most beautiful creations, paired with wine, port and bubbly!
Hint: Because of the intensity of the flavors and aromas, most people can easily be satisfied with one or two pieces, making Claude’s fine chocolates one of life’s affordable luxuries!
The website is convenient for chocoholics anywhere in the U.S.