Email from Bag Lady to Shopping Siren at three minutes past noon:
“Shall we chocolate?”
The immediate reply:
Although we are women cloaked in mystery and shrouded in secrets, we’ve never been able to hide our fondness for all things chipped, dipped or cocoa-covered.
So it’ll come as no surprise when we tell you Maine Gourmet Chocolates is right up our alley. (Um, both figuratively and literally. At 5 Park St. in Lewiston, it’s a chocolate cakewalk from the Sun Journal.)
The shop is as tiny as a store can get and still squeeze in shoppers, a shopkeeper and merchandise. But don’t let its compact size fool you. The little store is a showcase for the versatility of chocolate. Chocolate-covered popcorn? Check. Animal cracker bark? Check. Needhams that taste a little like that key lime mojito you dream of sipping on a white-sand tropical beach while cabana boys fan you with palm fronds? Oh, check.
You can find some of the Maine Gourmet Chocolates’ handmade-by-the-owner goodies online, but be forewarned: The site is under construction. Although the home page tells visitors they can order online, it then instructs them to call or email for current prices . . . and to place an order. So. You can’t really order online.
But if you’re a chocolate lover, we encourage a store visit. Two words: free samples.
And if you’re not a chocolate fan, we recommend stopping by, anyway. It’s almost Valentine’s Day. Cards shmards. Nothing says “I love you” like a solid chocolate lobster claw.
* Chocolate-covered dried blueberries, 5 oz., $6.95
One of the few things we didn’t sample, but on name alone, there’s potential. Not sure if it’ll hit the mark for your sweetie? The store is having a Ladies’ Night on the 10th and a Men’s Night on the 13th with samples and, we assume, some hand-holding help.
* Needhams, various flavors, $1.50 each or $6.95 for an eight pack
Ten flavors in all, plus traditional. But why go with plain coconut-packed, chocolate-covered goodness when you can get one with a hint of pineapple? It’s the pina colada taste without the pina colada alcohol. That’s a good thing during work hours. We suppose.
* Chocolate-dipped Oreos, two pack, $2.50
One is dipped in white chocolate and decorated like a wedding dress. The other is dipped in both white chocolate and darker chocolate (possibly milk chocolate, it was hard to tell), and decorated to look like a tuxedo. Perfect for wedding favors. Or breakfast. We don’t judge here.
* Chocolate pops shaped like a motorcycle or a heart, $1.50
When you’re less “I love you” and more “I really, really like you,” “Let’s see where this leads” or “See, I remembered!” That’s a lot for $1.50.
* Bark, various flavors, $5.95-$7.95
Six ounces of chocolaty wonder mixed with animal crackers, candy canes, pretzels, peanuts or other treats. Solid foundations, all. Everything good is better with chocolate.
* Brittle, various flavors, $6.95 and up
Two dozen flavors, including cinnamon, chipotle, cranberry and caramel. Also some flavors that don’t start with c. In case you’re wondering, bark is softer and chocolate-based, while brittle is crunchy and more nut-based. Founts of knowledge, right here! You learn something new every day.
* GIANT solid chocolate lobster claw, $29.95
This lobster is the size nightmares are made of, except this nightmare happens to be very tasty. We understand a real lobster’s claw was used to create the mold for the piece — that is Maine authenticity.
Best find: Chocolate-drizzled popcorn, 6 oz., $4.95
*Actual sounds coming from the two of us at the free sample table. Must be tasted to be believed.
Think twice: Chocolate-covered licorice, 4 oz., $2.25
Strawberry licorice (think Twizzlers) drizzled with regular chocolate and white chocolate. Shopping Siren loves both licorice and chocolate, and so was greatly enthusiastic. Until she tried it. Turned out the licorice was too hard and the chocolate too subtle. Someone in the office suggested chocolate-dipped licorice. Someone else had the idea to inject chocolate directly into the licorice’s hollow core. We could possibly get behind both suggestions. But, really, only after the popcorn runs out.
Bag Lady and Shopping Siren’s true identities are protected by a pair of stylish, sweater-wearing Doberman pinschers (who take their popcorn straight-up) and the Customer Service counter at the Sun Journal. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected].