(An Inside Narrative Written By An Anonymous Local Observer)
On the edge of Everglades National Park enveloped by the National Marine Sanctuary is one of the most popular and dreamed about locations in the world, a movie legend sort of place where sun and adventure seeking visitors have been delighted to discover an unexpected and remarkable jewel — Key Largo Chocolates.
It’s a magical place that is all about delicious, creative, heart pounding, mouth-watering, over the top, I would kill for a piece kind of chocolate that drives women wild and men crazy and creates shrieks of joy from children. It’s the kind of chocolate that properly deployed insures you’ll never be in the doghouse again.
It’s the kind of chocolate that is so unbelievably good that it is represented by a whacky flamingo named Lucy who has never been to Europe but just happens to love chocolate truffles.
Keys locals are smug in the knowledge that they don’t have to travel to Zurich or Belgium to savor world-class, royalty level chocolate truffles. A step through the Key Largo Chocolates door triggers an amazing taste adventure that usually starts with exclusive key lime chocolate made from a highly secret and well-guarded recipe.
For generations, Europeans have understood that great chocolate is never an accident. Great chocolate is produced through a combination of skill, experience, a large dose of esoteric knowledge, sharply honed instincts and, most importantly, love. Combined together it all comes to life into a glowing, never satisfied passion in the form of a Master Chocolatier with virtually mystical powers.
In Key Largo, her name is Kristie Thomas.
On her own 41-foot Morgan ketch, Kristie literally sailed into the Florida Keys, where she instantly knew she was here to stay. With her was her husband Bob, a professional pilot and a man on a mission. They had wandered the world and finally they found home. They were instantly in love with Key Largo and all that it offered and represented.
But there was still a missing ingredient in their lives. For years, Kristie had honed her innate skills as a chocolate confectionery maker and baker of key lime and rum cakes. She had become a master of the alchemy and ruthless principles of making great chocolate treats. Once she and Bob reached the Keys, they realized they were in the right place at the right time. The time had come to take her talents to the next level. Thus was born Key Largo Chocolates.
Kristie and Bob have never looked back. Starting in their own kitchen and then moving to a rented space, they began tempering chocolate to produce the truffles and other treats that had locals and tourists in the know beating a path to their door. Valentines Day of 2012 was such a smash hit, they bought their own building with an expanded kitchen and new chocolate making equipment to help them meet the growing, at times almost frantic demands of their customers.
For Kristie, making and selling chocolate is not just a business. It’s a passion. It’s a cause. It’s a way of life. It’s a way of connecting with others by providing them with something to boost the pleasure level of daily life.
If you are fortunate enough to visit the store, ask for Kristie. She loves her customers. She would love to say hello and help make your day. And yes, she still bakes those famous key lime and rum cakes. But if you are in a hurry, don’t get her started about her wedding services or the Junior and Adult Chocolatier programs.