The North Fork Chocolate Company is opening in Mattituck just in time for Valentine’s Day (source: Nicholas Grasso).
While winter is the quiet season for many North Fork companies, it’s crunch time for the North Fork Chocolate Company.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, founders Ann Corley and Executive Chef Steve Amaral and their team need to stock up on artisanal chocolates, chocolate roses, chocolate covered strawberries and other romantic essentials.
But adding the usual February mayhem is an important step.
After eight years at 740 Main Road in Aquebogue, the North Fork Chocolate Company has moved to two locations. The first of those stores — 8700 Main Road in Mattituck — welcomed its first customers Wednesday. The second location — 309 E. Main St. in Riverhead — will open its doors to the public next month after the holiday rush.
The North Fork Chocolate Company has leased its property in Aquebogue since 2014 while it was actively listed for sale in the real estate market. Ms Corley believed the ‘For Sale’ property sign was not good for attracting business, which prompted a move. Perhaps more crucially, the chocolatiers have not been offered a lease extension this year as the property remains on the market.
“If we had to move, why not grow,” Ms Corley said of the decision to secure two locations. “We can also serve our customers better. Hopefully that way we’ll have more reach for the community as we go a little more east and a little more west.”
Credit: Nicholas Grasso
At the new location in Mattituck, customers can browse the display case and then buy and taste chocolate, ice cream and other delicacies. The atmosphere resembles that of a café with café tables, a comfortable couch, local art hanging on the walls and bookshelves filled with the works and goods of local artisans and authors. All locally made hot sauces, honey, hardcovers and paintings are available for purchase.
“You can come and relax, have a cup of coffee, a piece of cake or an ice cream,” Ms. Corley said of the atmosphere.
She and Mr. Amaral named the store’s candy display “Tasting Bar” after their $7.95 “Tasting” special.
“People come in, they pick four chocolates that they want, then they take them to the vineyards and get wine with them,” explained Mr Amaral.
The two founders offer recommendations that inspire customers to purposefully visit the North Fork Wine Trail. The Thai coffee and fig and marzipan pralines pair well with reds, runny caramel with whites, and “goat’s milk toffee goes great with a rosé in the summer,” said Ms. Corley.
In addition to partnering with vineyards and breweries for tasting experiences, much of the North Fork Chocolate Company’s offering includes locally sourced beers and batches, from Long Ireland Celtic Ale to Duck Walk Vineyards’ 2016 Blueberry Port.
“We use local ingredients, that’s been our whole niche from the start, that we use ingredients from local farms and vineyards and suppliers to make the cores of most of our chocolates,” said Ms. Corley.”
These local ingredients are carried over into the store’s offerings beyond the sweet treats. In Mattituck, Mr. Amaral whips up a variety of waffles, including a grilled cheese waffle made with Mecox Bay Dairy cheese. Other options include the Cinnabomba Waffle with Buttermilk Cream Cheese Frosting and the Brown Butter Apple Cider Waffle with Donut Spice and Cider Caramel.
In Riverhead, which has a larger kitchen compared to the Mattituck chocolate shop, Mr. Amaral and his team will also prepare a menu of vegan and vegetarian options that the North Fork Chocolate Company has been offering since last year. When they’re not conjuring up chocolate and ice cream, dishes like curry tofu wraps, bruschetta and avocado toast are being prepared.
These savory dishes are a far cry from the minds of those behind the counter at the Mattituck chocolate shop. As of Tuesday, the chocolatiers were still busy unpacking boxes and setting up their Mattituck shop. Unboxing essentials include chocolate-colored heart-shaped boxes and red and gold ribbons waiting to encase hand-selected Valentine’s Day chocolates.
“Sometimes you get a box of chocolates and it’s filled with things you don’t like,” Corley said. “If you pick what’s in your box, you know the person is going to like whatever they get. That makes it even more special.”
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