Thursday, December 19, 2013

The OC Mix Mart Gets A Little Sweeter

Michelle Haut Chocolat
3313 Hyland Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Think about chocolate for a moment. What came to your mind? If you are like me, maybe you suddenly had a slight smile stretch across your face. Or maybe you had a memory of going to See's Candies at the mall as a kid, and remembering that smell of chocolate hitting you as soon as you walked in. Or maybe you flashed back to reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and wishing you were Charlie taking that tour of the candy factory. Okay you got me, these are all of the things I think of when someone mentions chocolate to me.

Like almost everyone, I love chocolate. So when I was recently invited to the opening of Michelle Haut Chocolat, I was pretty excited. This new store is located at the OC Mix Mart at SOCO. For the three of you reading this that have not been to SOCO yet, this shopping center is quickly becoming the culinary capital of OC. If you hear about a great new restaurant that has recently opened up, it more than likely is located at SOCO in Costa Mesa. My list of restaurants that we want to eat at is peppered with restaurants that are located at SOCO, (Arc, Taco Maria, Shuck, and the Iron Press to name a few). We will eventually get to all these, but tonight it was all about chocolate.

I must confess, I had never heard of Michelle Haut Chocolat before. That probably puts me in the minority, because they have been seen at some high profile events. The Oscars, the GLADD Media Awards, and even Teri Hatcher's Celebrity Yard Sale Event. Yeah, I would say those are some pretty big events. Because of Michelle Haut Chocolat being involved in these events, this chocolate company has grown quite the following in LA and OC, to the point that the demand for a retail location was imminent. That time has come, with the opening of Michelle Haut Chocolat at the OC Mix Mart.

This retail space is not huge by any stretch of the imagination, but they have plenty to offer. The chocolate is handcrafted daily at their Laguna Beach Chocolate Kitchen and Tasting Room. Michelle Haut Chocolat uses a custom blend of 73 percent bittersweet chocolate from Belgium. There are no artificial ingredients or preservatives used. Even the packaging is special here. The packaging for their truffles is sourced directly from Italy, while their chocolate bars are wrapped in Nepalese paper, made from a renewable plant in Nepal. With all of the care that is put into this chocolate, I was very excited to give it a try.

For this grand opening party, Michelle Haut Chocolat had a lot of samples laid out for us, starting with this Tahitian Vanilla Bean Truffle. Not to ruin the rest of this post, but this was my favorite of the night. This had a great combination of hand ground vanilla bean pods and white chocolate. I definitely ate my fair share of these. As Katie was talking to everyone, it allowed me to slip away unnoticed for more of these. Thanks goodness that girl likes to talk.

Next up was the Glace Orange, which is orange slices dipped in Michelle Haut Chocolat's Belgian Dark. I used to think that orange and chocolate didn't go together so well, but it surprisingly works. The dark chocolate kind of deferred the sweetness to the orange, which makes this combination work out.

At this grand opening party, Michelle Haut Chocolat was was showing off their creativity by sharing their custom creations, which were inspired by their fellow tenants at the OC Mix Mart. These Ethiopian Heirloom Chocolate Tasting Tiles used Portola Coffee Lab's Ethiopian heirloom beans as the centerpiece of their Belgian dark chocolate. Even for this non-coffee drinker, I enjoyed these tiles a lot. This was definitely Katie's favorite of the night. No surprise, since she has to have her coffee fix almost everyday.

Another orange and chocolate combo, this Blood Orange Balsamic Truffle was pretty unusual. Here they used We Olive's all natural balsamic vinegar, mixed in with their creamy, dark chocolate ganache center. Even typing this it seems like it would taste odd having vinegar and chocolate together, but I would have never known the difference if I wasn't told about it. I did not really get any vinegar taste, but instead I got a heavy orange presence.

Even though my eyes were bigger than my stomach when it came to my night at Michelle Haut Chocolat, there was only so much chocolate that I could eat, I still was pretty impressed with everything I tried. I was especially excited by their creativity. On my next visit I am definitely going to be trying an Exotic Chile Cardamom Chocolate Bar, which promises a hot and spicy finish. Another one that caught my eye was the Toasted Coconut and Black Lava Sea Salt Bar, which sounds fantastic. I love sweet and salty together. Michelle Haut Chocolat and the OC Mix Mart seem like such a natural fit. I am sure that they will be making OC Mix Mart shoppers very happy, for many years to come.

If you would like more information about Michelle Haut Chocolat, go to their website here:

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