Wrapping sweet, salty and a little bit of umami into a truffle-iciously tasty package is chocolatier Julie Herson of Salt Side Down Chocolates.
Using the best stuff she can get her hands on — heirloom cacao, fresh local fruit, cream and wines and artisan sea salts — this Culinary Institute of America grad is putting a new spin on luxe chocolate. The idea: Hand-dipped truffles topped with sea salt crystals meant to be plopped into your mouth salt side down. Prepping your buds with a quick jolt of salty makes the sweet, well, that much sweeter and more dynamic, according to Herson.
Her lineup of flavors change frequently (she’s currently working on a chili-infused chocolate), but recent truffles included the Blushing Bride (cinnamon and plum with Sonoma Valley Portworks’ Aria Petit verdot Port and Murray River Flake salt); spiced orange with French gray sea salt; Sweet Dreams (chamomile and lavender with lavender sea salt); The Flying Esmeralda (Flying Goat coffee with coffee dusted Maldon salt and cocao nibs); a late-harvest Zinfandel reduction chocolate and Le Classic (a French style truffle).
Where to find ’em: Occidental Farmers Market each Friday through the summer, Geyserville Farmers Market on August 19th (5:30 to sundown) and at a number of pairing events at local wineries (see her website). Also at pairing events at local wineries (Kokomo, Sonoma Valley Portworks, to name a few). And…complimentary hand delivery throughout Sonoma County from the online boutique at saltsidedownchocolates.com.