To "kick it off" we have the fantastic Detroit based band Velveteen Rabbit who visited Gayle's Chocolates in Royal Oak a few weeks ago for a seated sampling of the sweetest kind. MCB peeps were onsite to document the chocolate explosion that ensued on Washington St Downtown Royal Oak.
Words - Sandy Hopkins - Lead Singer Velveteen Rabbit
Sweets - Amy Gutz - Director of Operations Gayle's Chocolates
Images - Brett Lawrence - Founder Lawrence Creative
My band and I recently had the pleasure of having a chocolate tasting at the home base of the renowned Gayle’s Chocolates in Royal Oak Michigan. When we were told about the new experiment of having area musicians review the tastes around town we dove in head first excited about the chance of highlighting our local eats to fellow Michiganians.
The day of the review we were running late, we parked quickly, and clutching my skirt in my hands I lept from the car and bolted down fourth street, the echoes of my heels followed close behind. Our drummer Todd Flogous and Bass player Nick Pirog joined in my exuberance as we stealthily made our way through the busy Royal Oak sidewalks. I am sure we were an eyeful. We were dressed to the nines and ready to devour some chocolate heaven. Hard to explain the excitement of being asked to write a chocolate review for MOTORCITYBLOG, all I can say is that my watering mouth controlled my every move and led us all the way to the legendary and forever fabulous Gayle's Chocolates.
We were warmly received by our guides Amy and Chris. Amy Gutz is Gayle’s trusty right hand in the business. She moved back to Detroit from a career in fashion to aid Gayle in expanding the business. She impressed on the fact that they pride themselves on excellent customer service with a traditional and personal touch. She believes in Gayle’s motto that “chocolate is the worlds most affordable luxury; we eat it when it is time to celebrate, as well as when our hearts are broken”. Chris, our chocolate guru, started working at Gayle’s three years ago, and now knows just about anything you could imagine about the making of chocolate. From the percentage of cocoa bean that goes into each hand crafted piece and even where those cocoa beans are grown. Their eloquence and pride added to our excitement as we stared at the beautiful treats laid out so delicately before us.
Chris and Amy had decided to show off a sampling of their lovely little truffles which were exquisitely plated for the band, photography crew, and fellow writers at MCB. The quaint diner style counter felt warm and familiar as we all settled in for our memorable chocolate journey. Presented to us were six delectable truffles with ingredients varying in taste, texture and appearance.
Chris first introduced us to the milk chocolate Champagne Truffle. It was light and lovely with a crisp outer shell and smooth creamy ganache center. Next we were introduced to a dark, semi-sweet truffle, the Dark Brandied Morello Cherry; devine in its decadence. Our third treat was the Strawberry Truffle, with a sophisticated twist of balsamic vinegar; lite with a bite, it pleasantly surprised us all. Fourth was the Cognac Truffle with 62% cocoa bean. Gayle is not one to mess around, this truffle comes with a warning that one too many might make you a bit tipsy. Similar in the “fun” factor and delicious in its own right, is the Rum Truffle. The last, which I had been eyeing in anticipation, was adapted and named from Gayle’s signature Video Mix chocolate bar. This palate pleaser contains roasted coconut, a mixture of the finest dark, white, and milk chocolates - married with caramel, cherry and almond; totally worth the
We were walked through each candy in order from one to the next, showcasing the uniqueness of every hand rolled piece. Nope, Gayle’s Chocolates doesn’t use machinery. It is all poured, rolled, and hand painted by the loving and dedicated hands of her chocolatiers, which includes Lucy who has been there for over 30 years.
Beyond truffles, Gayle’s is famous for creating customized molds to form your chocolate delight into anything you can dream of. You can also choose from over 4,000 pre-existing imaginative designs. Gayle’s custom chocolates have been sought after by GM, Mercedes, Ford and The Red Wings to name a few. She also has an exclusive line of exact replica chocolate Louis Vuitton shoes that can only be purchased from Gayle’s and at Saks Fifth Avenue. This place suddenly became a “chocolate boutique” for me. It was a complete eye opener, never had I heard of or seen anything like the things that are being created here.
After the tasting, with pride in her eyes, Amy told us about Gayle and her humble beginnings. Gayle was a teacher, but found her passion for chocolate making, she got married and had children. Her marriage did not work out and she was forced to find a way to support herself and her children. She did not give up and through perseverance and a love for her craft she has become a leading chocolatier. She is constantly coming up with brilliant ideas that many try to emulate and she is one of the first in artisanal foods in our area who continues to innovate and inspire.
Velveteen Rabbit gives Gayle’s Chocolates 5 stars.
Get more info on here
417 S Washington Ave,
Royal Oak, MI 48067
Velveteen Rabbit is project based out of Detroit MI USA and founded in 2004 by Sandy C. Hopkins.
The eclectic group ranging in size from 2 to 7 members have steadily built a body of music and short film and video. Every member of the group is DIY artist related. VR music is feeling, breathing. uneasy yet comfortable and in December of 2010 they were discovered on the internet by an entourage of the band Madness and had the pleasure of being asked to play music in the UK, Exeter, and London where VR toured for 10 days. Having recorded with the legendary Detroiter Jim Diamond and Billy Kozy they are currently working on rock opera.
Guitar/Vox Sandy Hopkins
Drummer Robert Todd Floguas
Bass Player Nick Pirog
Catch them at a local show coming up soon as they are playing the Helicopter Conspiracy Show at the Tangent Gallery on Friday 6/20 and at the Ann Arbor Art Festival in July 2014
Get more details here on VR here
PHOTO CREDIT: Crystal Rae
PHOTO CREDIT: Jill Moninger