MONTROSE – The theme of the most recent First Friday Stroll in Montrose – a monthly Main Street block party celebrating art, shopping and all things culinary – was Christmas in July. Maybe the organizers were onto something. If Christmas in July, why not…Valentine’s Day in August? Or at least, the most delectable comestible associated with Valentine’s Day, that ancient treat that has been cultivated for at least three millennia?
We speak, of course, of chocolate, but much more fun than speaking about it is actually eating it, and there’ll ample opportunity to try some of the best chocolate in the region this week – and even get a discount for doing so. Fabula, for example, will be offering 20 percent off its selection of chocolates, including the excellent Scharffen Berger, as well as Moonstruck Chocolates from Portland, Ore. Moonstruck is the only American supplier of a rare cacao bean called the Pure Nacional, recently discovered in Peru (and formerly believed to be extinct, according to the gourmands at the website Serious Eats). Moonstruck’s chocolatier-in-chief, Julian Rose, grew up in Montreal, where his parents owned a very successful pastry shop. “I was a natural pastry chef, baking cookies from the age of six, and chocolate cookies were my favorites,” he told the publication Dessert Professional, which recently hailed Moonstruck’s confections as some of the best in the U.S. “No wonder I became a chocolatier.”
In Portland, Moonstruck Chocolates are sold in Moonstruck Cafes, inspired by the original chocolate houses of Europe and intended, Rose explained, “to provide an escape from the rigors of ordinary life.” As luck (or coincidence) might have it, that is exactly what the First Friday Stroll is designed to offer. Nibble a bite of Moonstruck chocolate, for example, which you’ll also find at The Canyon Gallery, and gaze at another form of escape: a journey to Alaska. David Kehrli’s “Alaska” exhibit is up at the gallery through the end of this month. The painter/photographer’s show depicts both “dramatic and peaceful scenes that will make you long for a visit,” owner Amy Harmsen says. And The Pour House will be offering a selection of wines “that pair perfectly with chocolate and summer.”
First Friday strollers can also enjoy chocolate treats and wine at Around the Corner Gallery, which will showcase a specially themed show called “Up Close and Personal.” Speaking of escaping the rigors of ordinary life, if Alaska seems a tad far and you’d prefer to summer in Colorado, then Kit and Randy Cassingham have a literary treat for you: the writers will sign their book, Savvy Visitor: A Fun Guide to Colorado’s San Juan Mountain Region, which details the best places to eat, drink, stay and shop locally.
More on Main Street:
– Nina Suzanne will host watercolor artist Jodine Broscovak, where you can also stop by and enjoy a chocolate creation.
– There is not a lot that goes better with chocolate than jewelry, and Tiffany, Etc. will host a ladies jewelry party this Friday. Buy two pieces and get a third for free.
– Main Street Ice Cream is offering cool chocolate decadence. At this old-time dessert purveyor, you’ll find all manner of brownies, ice cream, sodas, phosphates and sundaes – chilly treats to beat the heat.
– And at A+Y Gallery, you can sip local fruit wines from Mountain View Winery in Olathe and view the work of featured contemporary artist Jennifer Morrison Godshalk, whose paintings are noted for their vibrant, layered colors. Godshalk was recently invited to exhibit her work at the Museum of Young Art (MOYA) in Vienna, Austria, a “virtual gallery” that is part of the museum. Vienna…isn’t that where the Sachertorte, a classic dessert composed of chocolate sponge cake layers, apricot jam and a swirl of whipped cream, hails from? A+Y doesn’t have that on offer, but it will be selling Italian gelatos (Spumoni, Stracciatella) with chocolate as a key ingredient, as well as a variation straight out of our own Southwest: Chocolate Chipotle Raspberry, a creamy concoction studded with chunks of chocolate and raspberries and boasting a hint of smoky jalapeno.
Because at First Friday, life is sweet.