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Virginia Highlands: Cacao Opening Party

As Hyesoon and I finished up at La Tavola, the woman at the next table asked me about my camera.  When I explained that it was for my food blog, she invited us around the corner to the opening of her sister's new chocolate shop.  As it turns out, her sister is Kristen Hard, a nationally-known chocolatier.  The shop is her third location of Cacao, one of those many places I'd read about but hadn't yet visited.  She roasts her own cacao beans, for goodness sake. What a treat! 
Invited guests filled the shop and spilled out onto the sidewalk.  A band played in the front window.  The food, of course, was exquisite.  You can see a sample of chocolate truffles in this photo.  I noticed an apricot balsamic number.  Given my recent obsession with fruit and balsamic vinegar, I had to try it.  The flavor was an amazing balance of sweet and just enough tang; the texture of the truffle was perfect.  My absolute favorite was the salted caramel gelato.  I can't imagine how much experimentation was required to get the right amount of salt into an ice cream, but it was perfect.

And here is a photo of Kristen and me...

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