Why you should visit Peterbrooke Chocolatier in Winter Park instead of buying your chocolate from a convenience store
In our fast-paced age of convenience, we no longer have time to buy our meat from the butcher, our bread from the baker and our milk from the milk man, let alone our chocolate from a chocolatier. We have grown dependent on the convenience of buying all our necessities from a big super-store. It works. It’s convenient. It saves time. We get what we need for a good price. Unfortunately, the price we pay for convenience is the loss of the relationships with the people who produce the foods we love, as well as the loss of quality and freshness. Knowing where our food comes from, who made it, having a conversation with them, learning about the product, getting the inside scoop on what’s good and what’s fresh are all things we have given up in the name of convenience. Why do I bring this up? Because I was fortunate to be invited to a Valentine’s preview tasting at Peterbrooke Chocolatier, a local chocolate shop in Winter Park Florida, and I was reminded how great it is to know who is lovingly crafting the foods I enjoy. If you know me, you know I am a self-professed chocoholic, and thus I enjoy chocolate immensely. I often buy mass-produced chocolate in the big stores, you know, the kind that comes in 5lb bags. Buying hand-made chocolates, directly from the person who made them, definitely elevates that experience to something memorable and worth sharing. There is just no comparison. I’m so happy to have discovered this local neighborhood treasure. This is why I wanted to share with you my Top 9 Reasons to love Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park and why I think you will love them too.
Top 9 Reasons To Love Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park
1. The Owners:
Husband and wife team, Jami and Kevin Wray purchased their Winter Park store in 2007 and have been an active part of the community ever since. They infuse their own charm and creativity into everything they do and after meeting them you will see why their chocolate creations taste so much better than anything you will find in a big brand store. I believe it is important to support locally owned and operated businesses and they in turn support many local events and charities, truly making them a part of the neighborhood. To learn more about their charitable endeavors, click here. Stop by and say hello to Jami and Kevin. You will find them at the store almost every day. Tell them goEpicurista says hello!
Jami and Kevin are truly reason enough why you will love Peterbrooke Chocolatier but, just in case, here are 8 more delicious reasons.
2. European Chocolate-Making combined with American Comfort Foods:
Peterbrooke chocolate is made in the old world European tradition, then they use it to cover all your favorite comfort foods, which can only mean one thing for a chocolate lover: PURE JOY! Their popcorn drizzled with milk or dark chocolate is their top seller and I could see (and taste) why. The combination of sweet and salty flavors is addictive. I’m adding this tasty snack to my Academy Awards Party menu because I can’t think of a better treat to accompany my red carpet fashion critiques. I bet Sandra Bullock and Julia Roberts wish they had some Peterbrooke popcorn to snack on while they anxiously awaited to hear if they won another statue. If that’s not enough to tempt you, Jami and Kevin don’t stop at just popcorn. Oreos covered in chocolate are double the fun. Assorted Fruits covered in chocolate are perfect for those on a healthy kick. Have you heard of the chocolate-covered bacon craze? Peterbrooke perfected it! If you didn’t have enough salty and sweet, how about potato chips covered in chocolate? I’m telling you that you can’t stop at just one.
Here’s a Tasty Tidbit of History in case you were wondering how on earth they came up with Chocolate covered Popcorn. It happened on a whim. When Peterbrooke first opened in Jacksonville Florida back in 1983, owner Phyllis Lockwood Geiger was participating in a neighborhood holiday event and at the last-minute was asked to provide free samples. She couldn’t afford to give out her expensive hand-made chocolates so she quickly improvised, purchased popcorn from the movie theater next door and drizzled it with her fine European chocolate. The creation was an instant hit and a new treat was born. They say necessity is the mother of all inventions, right?
If treats covered in chocolate isn’t enough, they will even cover a Champagne or Wine Bottle in chocolate. You can have them write a custom message on the outside like “Be Mine” or “Drink Me” (very much to the point), then you drink the champagne and nibble on the chocolate. That is what I call creative multi-purpose efficiency.
3. Full of Creativity:
When you go to your grocery store, you get what’s on the shelf. That’s it. You want to get creative and have a chocolate mold made of say for example your hand, your shoe, your face, your logo… or anything your heart desires, and the answer you will get is simply “No” or a more likely “Huh?”. Not at Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park. Just ask Jami and Kevin and they will make practically anything out of chocolate. Just take a look at the recent cover of Orlando Magazine and see for yourself. The magazine features a very informative article by food writer Joseph Hayes about the history of chocolate as well as our Central Florida chocolatiers, including Peterbrooke of Winter Park, titled “Chocolate Unwrapped”. When it was time to design the cover, they turned to Peterbrooke to make a mold completely out of, you guessed it, chocolate! That is what I call well written creativity. A popular creation especially with Valentine’s Day around the corner is Jami’s cleverly named “Jami Shoo”, a woman’s high-heeled shoe made out of chocolate with a customized label. “Will you Marry Me?” seems to be a popular message and what girl could say no to that delicious proposition?
4. Be a Chocolatier for a Day:
I love parties and gatherings with friends, so the fact that Peterbrooke hosts chocolate parties is really exciting. If you always wanted to be a chocolatier, Peterbrooke will help you make it happen. Gather your chocolate-loving friends and host a party in the Peterbrooke chocolate kitchen. It’s a great way to celebrate a birthday, get your girlfriends together for a bridal shower or baby shower or just celebrate your friendship and your shared love of chocolate. Any day is a good day to celebrate and share chocolate with friends. Come to think of it, this would also make for a great team-building activity for your company. Getting your hands dirty with chocolate sounds much better than doing an obstacle course in the mud, don’t you think?
Chef Jami and Kevin are gracious hosts so I could only imagine how much fun a chocolate party would be. Parties start at an affordable $20 per guest and can be customized to meet your needs. Just wash your hands, put on an apron and get ready to dip and decorate to your heart’s content. And best of all, you get to take home all your beautiful (or wacky) creations plus receive an extra 10% discount on any additional purchases made that day. Parties can be held any day of the week based on availability. Just call them at 407-644-3200 and let them work their magic.
5. Chocolate & Wine Pairing Classes:
If you love wine and you love chocolate, why not learn how to pair the two? This is social learning at its best. Peterbrooke of Winter Park partners with Quantum Leap Winery, the first and only local winery in Orlando, and Lisa Wilk of Orlando Uncorked to host a chocolate and wine class on February 12 and March 12 that is not to be missed. For more information click here. It is one of my Top 9 Ideas to celebrate Valentine’s with Friends.
During the preview tasting event I sampled two delicious pairings. Quantum Leap’s Kaley’s Red with Peterbrooke’s 65% Cacao Signature Dark Chocolate and the Merlot with Peterbrooke’s Salted Dark Chocolate using a “Fleur de Sel” salt from The Spice & Tea Exchange, another local merchant, located right down the street on Park Avenue. I love how Jami and Kevin partner with local businesses for a delicious end result. They methodically reviewed and tasted different salts until they agreed, with the help of customers that were lucky to be in the store at the time, which salt was the best to combine with the chocolate. Not just any salt will do as it must not overpower the chocolate. Note to self, I must visit Peterbrooke next time they are taste testing one of their new creations.
I learned dark chocolate pairs best with red wines as it brings out the fruity notes in the wine without having the high sugar content overpower it. Having said that, the best part of tastings is you get to try how different flavors interact with one another. It’s a great way to explore and find which you like best. Not all wines can hold up to being paired with sweets. Some chocolates may bring out the tannic bitter qualities in the wine or make it go flat and disappear. My favorite was the Merlot with the Salted Dark Chocolate. For you? Well, you might feel differently. In the end, it’s all about your preferences, and I say “if you like it, drink it” who cares what someone says goes with what. Taste is all a matter of opinion.
6. Home Entertaining with Decadent Chocolate Truffle Cake & Cookies:
Peterbrooke doesn’t stop at just making chocolates. For the baking aficionados, Peterbrooke helps you show off and impress all your friends with their Truffle Cake kit which includes the pan, the chocolate and the recipe. Chef Kevin demonstrated how easy it was to make this messy, gooey, decadent cake (think of soufflé combined with a molten lava cake) and it was so good! Your friends will think you slaved hours in the kitchen.
If you’re short on time but want to entertain like a true kitchen diva, then Dark Chocolate Truffle cookies are the answer. They have all the goodness of the Truffle Cake but in a nice warm crispy and chewy form plus some crunchy walnuts for that added nuttiness. You must call ahead to order these as they are made fresh daily and usually run out. You can even ask them to have them warm when you get there which is absolutely amazing, trust me.
7. Huge Chocolate Covered Strawberries:
I have never seen Strawberries this big! They only use the best and make sure that they are nice and bright red all the way through. No “green shoulders” on these strawberries. You know when you lift the leaves of the strawberry and it is green underneath? That is called “green shoulders” in strawberry picking lingo and it means the strawberry was picked before being perfectly ripe. These strawberries were simply juicy, decadent and amazing! And good for you too. Antioxidants in the berries and the chocolate make this a perfect food in my book. I learned that Peterbrooke dips their Strawberries daily, even on Valentines Day when their orders are through the roof. Their chocolatiers will be there at the crack of dawn dipping for your chocolate-loving pleasure.
8. Amazing Gelato:
As If I hadn’t had enough sweets, I hit the jackpot when I discovered their gelato! Made locally by Stefano’s Gelato, based in Tampa Florida, and using Peterbrookes’ own chocolate, this 100% all natural artisan Italian style ice cream was a great find on my “Ultimate Ice Cream Hunt”. Their Dark Chocolate Gelato was perfection but they have over 20 flavors so I will need to make several trips to try them all!
9. Top Notch Personal Service:
In the end, it all comes back to service and Peterbrooke of Winter Park knows how to offer that special personal touch. Their hand-made gourmet chocolates are made fresh daily by a skilled team of chocolatiers. There is no comparison to fresh hand-made chocolate. Plus they understand our fast paced hurried world where convenience is key so if you’re in a hurry, call ahead to place your order and you don’t even have to get out of your car, they will bring your delicious package right to you curbside. They will also deliver for free within the immediate area of Park Avenue and Rollins in Winter Park. Outside of the area, delivery is only $1 per minute of driving time and they will ship anywhere in the US without any added surcharges. You only pay the charge for shipping. That’s what I call service and convenience. This is what doing business with a locally owned and operated business should be like. It’s the personal care and attention they provide that makes the experience a truly memorable one. So you see, we don’t need to sacrifice quality for the sake of convenience. We just need to make it a point to find these local gems and give them our business. If we don’t they will go out of business and that would be a shame.
Check out their most popular products. The next time you are in the mood for chocolate or looking for a gift for that chocolate lover in your life, look no further. Peterbrooke Chocolatier in Winter Park is worth a visit.
On Valentine’s Day, they are even open extended hours because they know how important it is for you to give your loved one that very special sweet treat. Their hours on Friday 2/14 are from 6am-11:15pm. There is no excuse to not stop in for a gift that will truly knock the socks off that chocolate lover in your life. Check out their Valentine’s Menu
Peterbrooke is always working on new delicious creations so follow them on Facebook and you just may end up with some free treats and possibly even the chance to help them taste test. Finger’s crossed, I’m waiting for that opportunity!
P.S. you can stop in anytime for a free sample, but I guarantee that you will not leave empty-handed.
Peterbrooke of Winter Park is located on 300 S. Park Avenue in Winter Park Florida. Hours of operation are 8am-10:15pm. Call them for your orders and parties at 407-644-3200.