This past weekend The Accidental Cowboy (my better half) and I made a day trip to Madrid, New Mexico. It was their annual CrawDaddy Blues Fest. Having lived in Houston for many years, we do miss good crawfish now and again so we jumped at the chance to try some. The food and live music was well worth the drive but for me, the best part was discovering the best chocolate in New Mexico. Really, some of the best chocolate I have had here in the states, at Shurgarman’s Little Chocolate Shop. It’s just off Highway 14, the main street that runs through Madrid.
You step into this small shop and the first thing that hits you is the smell of chocolate (just like the streets in Belgium where the chocolate shops are). Lonnie, who was working behind the counter was such a pleasure to talk with. She said we had just missed the owner, Harvey. The day we were there the tall glass showcase was full of chocolate bark. An amazing assortment of unusual flavor combinations. Of course I had to try the dark chocolate with sea salt. Basic but always one of my favorites. Oh my gosh, not too sweet and yet not bitter. Just the right amount of cacao and then the hint of salt at the end. Most of the chocolates here in the US have a slight coconut finish to them. I am not a fan of this. This chocolate however is the real deal, pure chocolate heaven. Harvey you are a genius.
The next one I tried only because my husband tried it first was a white chocolate. I usually can take or leave white chocolate because it is very sweet. This one was topped with the thinnest layer of crushed french crepe, so you get a delicate crunch at first. And then, a whisper of orange along with the silky and smooth white chocolate. Extraordinary!
Now, for those of you who like milk chocolate, there is that too. Perfectly balanced, very chocolatey and again not overwhelmingly sweet but exactly right. We had one with roasted pecans. Chocolate and pecans a marriage made in heaven.
There were chocolate truffles which we didn’t even try, and chocolate turtles infused with red chile. As I write this I realize I have to go back. I have to try more.
Now let me tell you a bit about Madrid, New Mexico. It has an interesting history. Once upon a time, it was a thriving coal mining town with a population of 2500 by 1899. By the 1920’s, Madrid had its own Elementary and High Schools as well as a hospital and of course a company store. It became famous for its Christmas Lighting Display powered by coal generators. Unfortunately after World War II when the need for coal dissipated, Madrid became a ghost town almost overnight.
In the 1970’s a few of the miners’ cabins were rented out to artisans and craftsmen looking to create a life in the mountains of New Mexico. Quirky, and fun, Madrid is now a thriving art community that sees visitors from all over the world. Today you will find Galleries galore. Everything from pottery, to sculpture, to paintings, photography and hand-made jewelry. You will find shops with antiques, clothes, rugs and local turquoise. You can grab a bite to eat at one of the four eateries in Madrid.
The last two times we have had out-of-town company, we made the trip to Santa Fe and Madrid. Both times their favorite was Madrid. So, if you are looking for one of the destinations that makes New Mexico so unique, check out Madrid.