Gourmet Chocolate Tasting Comes to the Texas Hill Country
Fredericksburg is known for its tastings…wine year ‘round and maybe peach ice cream if the season is right. Yet, as we meandered through the back roads that connect Spring Branch to Fredericksburg a tasting of a different sort caught our eye.
“Chocolate Tasting” said the sign, and if I didn’t spot it, well the 10-year-old to my right most certainly did! Actually it would be quite hard to miss Chocolates El Rey. This beacon of sweetness right at the corner of Ranch Road 1623 and Highway 290 is adorned with the image of a giant box of chocolates. So of course we had to stop.
We were welcomed right in. With a variety of ages from 5 years to 45 we each were offered a tasting plate peppered with an assortment of delicate chocolate morsels. We had to hold back the younger ones who wanted to dig right in. Clearly this was their first tasting and we urged them to slow down and listen as this was a time to taste and to learn.
Our host started with a quick history of the chocolate making process, which included the history of Chocolates El Rey. The El Rey chocolates are actually some of the best in the world made of Venezuelan cacao. Founded in 1929 it is the second chocolate company to be established in Venezuela. The company quickly became known for producing the finest chocolates, leading to the name El Rey, The King.
With the majority of the production meant for El Rey’s distinguished list of artisan chocolatiers, this Texas tasting room is one of the only opportunities to taste the pure flavors of its chocolates on their own. The award winning quality of the El Rey chocolate has made it a staple ingredient in several well-known chocolate-based treats sold around the world.
It was time for the tasting. Small round discs lined the bottom row of the plate. Above each of those, a sample of what some of El Rey’s customers have made out of that particular chocolate. We started with the white chocolate and then moved on to the milk chocolate and ending in a variety of darks. With each bite the flavors became even more complex. The tastes were at times surprising and always delicious, as each of us began to realize we had no idea how interesting chocolate could be.
As we tasted our last bite we immediately began discussing which to bring home. The walls of the tasting room were filled with bags of the pure little chocolate discs for purchase, as well as some of the decadent creations from the El Rey artisan partners. While an offer to join the chocolate of the month club was quite tempting, we settled on just an assortment tray of the original El Rey chocolates from our tasting. Too bad they only lasted the drive home…yet clearly a reason to go back very soon!
Chocolates El Rey is located at:
42 South Ranch Road 1623
Stonewall, TX 78671