Dec 1 2007
“Everything in moderation, including immoderation” is our mantra as we enter Wisconsin’s newest outlet for little luxuries, the Craverie Chocolatier Café, in Kohler’s fashionable Shops at Woodlake. It has been open less than one month.
We have come for lunch, but our eyes remain fixated on dessert – the golden Danish that is filled with blueberries and cream cheese, the silky white chocolate rum raisin gelato, the dark chocolate brownies that almost drip with gooey caramel, the divine raspberry lemon cake.
My friend Marjean and I change our mind several times before reaching decisions. This would be the most difficult part of my day.
The smallest gems of extravagance take up the most space under glass. Handmade chocolates, about 30 types, sell for $1.20 to $2.35 each. At the high end, a 10-piece box of Terrapins (what the peasants refer to as turtles) sells for $24.95.
Time the visit right – or wrong, I suppose – and you’ll watch the candy, pastries and other treats being made. So aroma is not the only temptation.
A unique and proprietary blend of Swiss chocolates is at the heart of this confectionery line, says Ulrich Koberstein, director of culinary arts at The American Club, the five-diamond resort in Kohler. He and his staff developed the Craverie concept and menu, but the final judge throughout the process has been Herbert Kohler Jr., who heads the Kohler Co.
The work began about four years ago, Ulrich says, after the manufacturing company’s CEO/president was approached about investing in a Wisconsin chocolate shop. He preferred to develop his own.
So work began to create the perfect Terrapin, a combination of chocolate, caramel and pecans. After about 18 months and 400 recipe variations, the product was finished. Today there are four versions: Original, Cranberry, Java and Nutty.
“Then it was a question of how many types of chocolates do we need to open a shop,” Ulrich says. In the works for 14 months have been a line of ganaches – candy filled with a mix of flavored chocolate and heavy cream – and chocolate toffees, shaped like little mountains with a snowy topping of white chocolate.
The work continues. “The first batch of a new product just came out today,” the chef says. What can you tell me about it? “Nothing,” he replies, with a laugh. It is a top-secret process.
The Craverie concept is about providing both indulgences and healthful dining options. So the Lean side of the menu lists salads, soups and other choices by calorie and sodium content.
A salad with smoked salmon and yogurt/citrus weighs in at 109 calories and 107 milligrams of sodium. The count for a cup of butternut squash apple puree is 46 and 19, respectively. Passion fruit sorbet totals 92 and 15.
The quality is fine, the portions modest and the prices moderate (two of us ate for $20, not including beverage or dessert) — but we dare you to keep your mind on this part of your meal.
Thankfully, no calorie/sodium totals are given for the sweets, salads and sandwiches listed under Indulgence on the menu.
The biggest extravagance, Ulrich says, is the seven-layer chocolate cake with gold leaf garnish, for $8 a slice. It arrives about six inches tall and “if you finish it, you really deserve a T-shirt or something. We’ll have to think about that,” he jokes.
More likely to appear, at some point, are wine-chocolate pairings, an especially attractive option for people who want to lounge in front of the café’s fireplace and look at Wood Lake, instead of sit tableside.
“Red wine lends itself well to chocolate,” Ulrich asserts, because the beverage is served at room temperature, which makes it easier to also experience the full flavor of the candies.
The Craverie Chocolatier Café is at 725D Woodlake Road, Kohler, and 800-778-5591.
The Kohler Original Recipe Chocolates go on sale online Dec. 5. For more: www.kohlerchocolates.com, 800-344-2838 extension 52066. No preservatives are used, so the chocolates should be consumed within a month of purchase.