North Fork Chocolate Company in Aquebogue
740 Main Rd., Aquebogue, 631-599-4944, northforkchocolate.com
Could there be a more fitting time for North Fork Chocolate Company, Goods and Gifts to open than the week of Valentine's Day? Partners Steve Amaral and Ann Corley have been working steadily for two years to make the deadline.
The Aquebogue store is the first brick-and-mortar outlet for the chocolate company, which got its start in the Calverton "incubator" kitchen run by Stony Brook University. Until now, its confections and desserts have been available only through its website and at various farmers markets and special events.
Amaral and Corley run the rustic-elegant store -- formerly the home of Esprit de France arts and crafts gallery -- and rent shelf space to artisans whose products include Aldo's coffee (roasted in Greenport) and All for Nun soaps, handcrafted by the nuns at the All Saints Greek Orthodox Monastery in Calverton. But pride of place goes to the exquisite chocolates made by Amaral, former chef-partner at Amarelle in Wading River and, before that, a corporate chef and caterer.
Each of Amaral's truffles and bonbons uses its own blend of dark, milk and/or white chocolate. The fillings are imaginative and, wherever possible, local: toffee made with goat's milk from Goodale Farms (a mile down the road), white chocolate bonbons infused with Miss Lady Root Beer (Wainscott), salted caramels with North Fork Sea Salt (Southold), ginger caramels made with organic ginger grown by MarGene Farms (Mattituck), milk-chocolate fleurs-de-lis sweetened with The Hamptons Honey (Southampton).
Chocolates are sold by the piece, three for $5. For Valentine's Day, North Fork Chocolate stocks dark-chocolate-colored, heart-shaped gift boxes. A small box (16 pieces) is $29; large (26 pieces) is $49.
North Fork Chocolate Company, Goods and Gifts opens Feb. 11. Regular winter hours (in effect until May) are Thursday to Monday, 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.