What do you call the neighborhood shop that represents the dreams, hard work, family loyalty, and enduring passion for chocolate of two very special sisters?

Chocolate Chocolate.

A simple elegance, the name of this downtown DC family business says it all. If you’re looking for chocolate, you’ll find it here. As it happens, I am – and I did.

Chocolate Chocolate is in the middle of the busy corporate part of DC, where the strides are quick and the eye contact is nil. But step inside this tiny chocolate shop and suddenly it’s a cozy neighborhood feel. If I ever move back to DC, I will adopt this place as my very own chocolate fix.

Chocolate Chocolate, a small family business in downtown DC | #thechocolatetourist

Chocolate Chocolate, a small family business in downtown DC | #thechocolatetourist

Ginger and Francie Park, proprietors, still man the counter – two sisters who opened the place in 1984 and are still cheerfully informing and supplying our chocolate choices.

The woman ahead of me in line chats with Ginger about her son who has every allergy known to man. Even after she leaves, the store reverberates with sympathy. This is my kind of place.

Chocolate Chocolate, a small family business in downtown DC | #thechocolatetouristA glance around the shop: lots of Lake Champlain chocolates and cocoa mix (Vermont, represent), with a wall dedicated to bulk candy dispensers and an in-depth display of Taza chocolate (what’s up, Massachusetts).

In the chocolate case: French, Belgian, Swiss, American bonbons. Handmade truffles from Ginger, in small batches. A cornucopia of the world’s chocolate offerings, right here for ordinary cosmopolitans to enjoy.

Chocolate Chocolate, a small family business in downtown DC | #thechocolatetourist

I’m surprised and intrigued by the books lining the shelves behind the counter. Turns out our chocolatiers are authors! Writing and chocolate, my two loves! There are several picture books for children (not about chocolate, ironically) and a grown-up book on feeding kids who have allergies.

I’m Christmas shopping, so I choose a few Taza bars (an extra for myself) and a box of Ginger’s homemade truffles. One of which is cracked, so Francie gives it to me on the house. Isn’t that sweet?

Trying to seem self-controlled, I ignore the otherwise-perfect coconut truffle and while my purchases are ringing up I cast another glance at the books – one of which bears the same name as the store itself. “Chocolate Chocolate?” I ask. “What is that about?”

Chocolate Chocolate, a small family business in downtown DC | #thechocolatetouristFrancie beams. “My sister and I wrote that. It’s a memoir, in honor of 25 years running a chocolate shop.”

OK, hold it.

At this moment my heart is talking to me and my brain is talking back. My face is replying to Francie: something mildly interesting about running a chocolate blog and video series and how much I love learning chocolate-makers’ stories, blah blah blah.

But inside, I need this book. I must read it and have it for my own. But I’m dropping a wad of cash on chocolate and I don’t even have all my gifts yet.

Budgets are real, people.

Ever the pragmatist, my brain reasons that I can buy the book later, after my bank account has a chance to recover from December, 2013. Resolute – if a bit disappointed – I exit the tiny, beautiful shop of happiness with a bag full of goodies and an extra truffle just for me.

Ginger Parks' handmade truffles, sold at Chocolate Chocolate, a small family business in downtown DC | #thechocolatetouristNow that the distraction of books is gone, it’s time for a truffle tasting. After one bite, I know I need to go back inside. The truffle is rich and coconutty with a hint of liqueur. The chocolate shell is perfect, caving the merest touch.

It tastes like love – not romantic love, but the kind of care and interest that motivates people to open a chocolate shop and run it for over 25 years.

My heart was right – I need that book.

I tried to leave without it and it called me back.

I’m so glad it did. The Chocolate Chocolate sisters sign it for me and send me off with a wave and a smile. I can barely wait to get on the train and crack it open.

But more about that Friday.

Is there a book or a place that has inspired you lately? One that calls you back, even though your brain tries to talk you out of it?

Sometimes life doesn’t make sense. Just go with it.



Post filed under Family Business, The Chocolate Tourist, Washington DC and tagged , , , , , , , , .

2 Comments

  1. Anita Raman says:

    I discovered CC when I was in the library with my daughter here in Chicago. I am originally from the D.C. area, so when I came back to D.C. to visit my family, visiting CC was the first thing on my list. I met Francie on that first visit and then on the next visit, I met Ginger. Now Francie is one of my dearest friends as is Ginger and they feel like family to me.

    My daughter has read all of their childrens’ books and loves hanging behind the counter with them!!

    Chocolate Chocolate is truly a magical place owned by two very special people. It is truly a place where everyone feels welcome and you never want to leave.

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