Now that February has kicked off, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. So why not plan to treat someone you care about to delectable—and beautiful—local artisan chocolate?
Luckily here in the Finger Lakes, there’s Rue Claire Lavender Farm in Lodi, located right on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. Rue Claire offers particularly unique, handmade chocolate creations by Claire Benjamin, a Certified Professional Master in Confectionary who grew up in the Philippines. Benjamin’s chocolates are made from entirely natural ingredients including local honey, maple syrup, and lavender she grows on her farm.
Although the physical store is closed for the winter, Benjamin said she will be making chocolates for pickup and local delivery in time for Valentine’s Day.
She has crafted one particularly special chocolate truffle in collaboration with Red Tail Ridge winery to commemorate her experience last year attending an event called the Finger Lakes Winter Fantasy in New York City through the national James Beard organization. The event invited seven Finger Lakes culinary professionals—all women—to create, “a proper feast of agricultural bounty” as a celebration of their farm-to-table talent and contributions to the region.
Benjamin’s commemorative dark-chocolate Valentine’s Day truffle is infused with a Red Tail Ridge rose because Nancy Irelan of Red Tail Ridge was also one of the seven women who attended the James Beard event. The lavish chocolate treat is complete with flecks of gold sprinkled on top.
“It’s like a Valentine’s [Day]-themed women collaboration and celebration,” Benjamin said.
Rue Claire will also be offering several other one-of-a-kind small chocolate-bar creations. The flavors include chocolate pearl crunch, ruby-chocolate with hibiscus-infused honey from Benjamin’s own honeybee hive, and Hawaiian lava salt with local maple syrup and a special Rue Claire brownie.
Benjamin said orders can be made by phone, email, or Facebook message. While orders placed at least a week in advance are preferred, she said she should also have chocolates available just before Valentine’s Day as well.
Rue Claire Chocolates. rueclaire.com. 9403 State Route 414 Lodi, NY 14860. Phone: (702) 897-8909; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Facebook: @RueClaireLavenderFarmAndChocolateShop; Instagram: @rueclaire_lavender_chocolate