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Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier

Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier

Nothing Says Love More Than Dark Chocolate

Gail Ambrosius ChocolatierSince its opening in 2004, Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier has offered hand-dipped dark chocolate truffles, caramels with sea salt, chocolate bars, tumbled treats, and much more to satisfy one’s sweet tooth.  Specializing in dark chocolates, all chocolates and sweets are made on-site at their shop in Madison, Wisconsin.  The chocolate used in her sweets are from Costa Rica, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Hawaii, and Venezuela.  Gail says, “In my opinion, good chocolate is its own food group. A little bit feeds the soul and fires the imagination. I want people to experience the real thing …Real chocolate is strong, earthy, fruity, floral … a whole world that unfolds on your palate.”  For Gail, chocolate, in all its mysteries and complexities, is her passion.  Her credo is that dark chocolate is far more interesting because one gets more of the real chocolate taste without the abundance of sugar.  Since quality dark chocolate ranges from 50 to 85% cacao, the higher the cacao percentage, the more pure chocolate you get.  Gail sees chocolate as an adventure since it comes from exotic locations, circling the equator worldwide.  For her chocolates, she finds single-origin chocolate even more interesting because it takes on the flavors of the area where it was grown. 

Gail Ambrosius ChocolatierGail’s story is one that truly shows what it means to follow dreams.  All roads point to fate as her parents, Ray and Lucille Ambrosius, gave her the perfect name for a chocolatier.  Growing up with nine siblings on a diary farm in Seymour, Wisconsin, Gail recalls her mom was generally in the kitchen creating treats like chocolate pudding and such.  Gail is no stranger to the culinary arts since she has been cooking with her mother since she could pull a chair up to the stove. Her mother instilled a lifelong love of cooking in her.  Since her first trip to Paris at the age of seventeen with her high school French club, she dreamt of opening a chocolate shop.  Gail remembers being separated from her school group for a day, where she shopped, got an impromptu haircut and visited patisseries.  “Everything was so beautiful, I just wanted to eat it all. I remember watching the people eat chocolates and they were in ecstasy. So I bought my first dark chocolate and I understood—eating this is the best thing you can do,” she shares.  She put her dream of opening a chocolate shop aside after she moved to Madison, got married, became a mother, divorced and worked with the State of Wisconsin for a decade.  After getting laid off at 44, being unemployed and a single mom, Gail realized this was her chance to live her dream.  With the support of her family and friends, she took the plunge and immersed herself in classes, even returning to France to learn the craft from the renowned Valrhona and Cluizel chocolatiers. Soaking in as much as she could learn, Gail returned home with nearly 50 pounds of chocolates.

Gail Ambrosius ChocolatierHer most popular items are the hand-dipped dark chocolate truffles and the caramel with sea salt.  One of our favorites is the Jasmine truffle, as it is rich and smooth with 61% Carenero Superior chocolate infused with the floral essence of Jasmine green tea.  This truffle is soft and floral like heaven on your tongue.  Rose, delicate yet dark, this Wild Rose Tea truffle is infused with sweet cream and made with smooth Venezuela Carenero Superior chocolate.  Like “breathing in a heady bouquet of roses,” this truffle provides a play on the taste buds with its quality chocolate and vibrant floral undertone.  Gail Ambrosius ChocolatierAnother delicious tea truffle varietal is Earl Grey, a deliciously complex marriage of orange blossom, bergamot, lavender, black tea, and 70% dark chocolate.  The truffle is sweet yet dark but ends with a light floral note of lavender.  Espresso, made with strong, deep Ecuadorian Arriba chocolate and Just Coffee espresso, this earthy and chocolaty rich truffle will fully awaken your taste buds.  The espresso is organic and made from fair-trade beans in Madison. The Arriba chocolate offers light floral notes, which balance nicely with the dark espresso.

Nothing excites our palate more than exotic and adventerous flavors and combinations as that is what chocolate was meant to do.  Shiitake Mushroom provides a warm earthiness with its savory shitake flavor as dried shiitakes are folded into 65% Gail Ambrosius ChocolatierPeruvian chocolate and cream for a seductive ganache.  The contrast in textures from the mushroom bits with the smoothness of the chocolate offers a pleasant chewy tasting experience.  Lemongrass with Ginger was inspired by Asian cusine as the buttery Venezuelan chocolate exudes scents of citrus from lemon and dried organic lemongrass.  The coconut puree with ginger pulp gives this truffle a nice kick.  A flavor that you would be pressed to find elsewhere is the Sweet Curry with Saffron, as the Hawaiian dark chocolate is blended with sweet curry and spices of coriander, tumeric, cumin and cardamom.  This edible gem is sprinkled with rare saffron.  The spicy curry is simmered in a fresh coconut puree and blended with chocolate, giving off a wave of fragrant curry, coconut and then sweet chocolate. 

Gail Ambrosius ChocolatierIf you cannot decide what to select as a gift or try for yourself, the Three-Bar Sampler is always a hit.  This sampler features Gail’s most popular bars - Bittersweet, Espresso and Three Hot Nuts.  The classic Bittersweet Bar is pure and undefined, made with 70% Colombian chocolate.  For a pick me up, the Espresso Bar is a dark and perky treat made with Madison’s own Just Coffee fresh-ground espresso that will be sure to liven things up.  The Three Hot Nuts Bar has a bonfire blend of pistachios, pine nuts and pepitas roasted with chipotle and cayenne, topped with chili verde salt for a fierce bite.  Voted Best Chocolate Bar, 2008 Next Generation Chocolatier Awards.  Today, Gail and her devoted team of ten employees produce several thousands of pieces of chocolate by hand daily during peak seasons.  After much study, experimentation, tasting, Gail Ambrosius Chocolatierand a lot of practice, Gail has come to understand a bit more about chocolate.  But she adds, “I am still far from being an expert. I like to think of myself as a lifelong student. There will always be more to learn and understand.”  Who in their right mind can resist Gail’s Salted Caramels.  These delicious treasures are made with sweet caramel wrapped in a silky dark chocolate, sprinkled with a touch of salt to offer the very best of sweet and salty.  As the caramel melts in your mouth, you experience the sweetness of the caramel along with the bitterness of the dark chocolate and a hint of salt.

Gail offers a fabulous selection of sweets and treats for nut lovers.  For starters, the Pecan Smokies are made by toasting pecans dredged in malty Gail Ambrosius ChocolatierAle Asylum wort, sprinkled with Ecuadorian chocolate and topped with applewood-smoked sea salt. The smoky saltiness of the toasted pecans atop the square of dark chocolate is simply divine.  Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier is unique and different from other chocolatiers on the market because they specialize in dark chocolate as just about everything is dark.  Using single-origin chocolate only from Central and South America, single-origin chocolate is that which is made from one variety of cacao harvested from one region.  This makes a word of difference because since cacao is a plant, its beans take on the flavors and terroir of the region where its grown.  Gail Ambrosius ChocolatierLike wine, the terms used to describe single-origin chocolate are - earthy, floral, herbal and berry.  But once cacao is blended, the effect of terroir is lost.  Gail prefers the distinct flavors of single-origin chocolates without blending to preserve the terroir.  As Gail notes, “For chocolatiers, the alchemy comes in finding that perfect chocolate to make a flavor come to life, whether it’s a blend or single-origin. That’s part of the challenge and the discovery.”  If you cannot get enough of hazelnuts, the Hazelnut Wafers are sure to please.  Toasted and crushed hazelnuts sprinkled atop thin squares of Colombian dark chocolate – need we say more?

Gail Ambrosius ChocolatierFor nut lovers, the Parisian Praline Collection is a must as this box holds the best of sophisticated pralines, inspired by the best chocolate shops of Paris.  This unique 80% cacao leaf box holds pralines of Pecan, Pistachio Bomb, Hazelnut and Orange Almond. The collection is one of our very favorites from Gail Ambrosius.  The Pecan features a blend of pecan butter, candied toasted pecans and apple wood-smoked sea salt covered in a dark chocolate shell.  The layers of smooth and sweet against the salty and crunchy are unlike any other and are simply divine.  Pistachio lovers will adore the Pistachio Bomb, an amazing praline that lives up to its name as this praline combined with lime zest, white chocolate chili verde salt and a whole pistachio.  This mind blowing bite offers all the traditional pistachio glory with an exciting and unexpected twist.   Gail Ambrosius ChocolatierHazelnut is reminiscent of Nutella as Gail combines the European flavors of rich, thick hazelnut butter with feulletine (crushed, crunchy buckwheat crepes) in smooth Colombian dark chocolate.  The satisfying crunch from the feulletine is perfect with the creamy dark chocolate essence.  Other fabulous nutty treats are Tumbled Treats Almonds, large, crunchy almonds dusted with delicate cocoa powder.  We also adore the Tumbled Treats Nibs, small nibs tumbled in layers of cocoa powder and dark chocolate are always a pleasure.

Well known foodies such as Anthony Bourdain, Oprah and Martha Stewart have had Gail’s chocolates as well as many other politicians that love the sea salt caramels.  Gail Ambrosius was most recently featured in Martha Stewart Living, February 2012, as one of the six chocolates that “inspire.”  Gail’s truffles were also one of Oprah’s Favorite Things in early 2011 and featured as one of the ten best sweets on Alton Brown from the Food Network.  As her business grows, Gail seems to be more and more drawn back to the farm.  As she has traveled to a few of the countries where cacao is grown, she has lived with the farmers and seen agro forestry and biodiversity in action.  A “farm girl” herself, she understands the farming life in Seymour even though it is half a world away in the jungles of Costa Rica.  Gail is passionate about working to ensure the farmers and their families are paid a fair wage so that their children can be educated, as that is what diary farming did for Gail.  She attests, “Cacao farmers deserve that same opportunity. Real chocolate—grown on trees by farmers with dreams for their children and transformed into truffles on wintry Wisconsin days—is my passion. And it’s my joy to share it with you.” 

Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier introduces seasonal items that are not to be missed.  For Valentine’s Day, her shop offers sour cherry truffles, passion fruit truffles, and one of her favorites, a boozey cherry cordial. Spring brings forth chocolate bunnies that are sure to please both adults and children alike.  In the summer, they create special seasonally flavored sorbets using fresh mint and rhubarb from the garden.  For fall, they offer pumpkin and apple cider truffles.  And for holidays, the shop offers homemade peppermint treats.  Gail Ambrosius chocolates are mostly sold locally and regionally at specialty food stores, fine wine shops, and gift shops.  All items are available for sale through her online store as they offer fabulous mail order delivery.  Gail Ambrosius is a hometown favorite in the Madison area and larger Midwest region.  In the coming years, Gail hopes that she is still making the best chocolates on the planet and bringing joy to as many folks as she can. Lastly, Gail adds, “Have fun and be good to yourself! Enjoy chocolate without guilt … a little bit of chocolate can bring lots of joy.”  Visit her online store at gailambrosius.com and personal blog with stories of travels and more gailambrosius.com/blog

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