(Updated, Nov. 9) The Pentagon City mall is getting a little sweeter with the opening of Swiss chocolate shop Läderach.
The large Swiss chocolate retailer is expanding to 30 new U.S. locations, many of which are specifically at Simon shopping centers, including the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.
Läderach is replacing the Godiva store that closed earlier this year, part of an asset purchase agreement that saw them assume the leases of more than 30 Godiva locations across the country. The shop is on the mall’s first level, next to the Ann Taylor.
It had a soft opening last month, a Läderach spokesperson confirms to ARLnow.
The Arlington location is the second in the region. In February, Läderach opened a shop at Union Station in D.C. with a “self-serve carousel.” The Pentagon City mall shop does not have a carousel.
This is all part of the company’s “westward expansion… to meet the growing demand for premium fresh chocolate in the area that we’ve also seen through e-commerce.”
Nonetheless, there’s going to be lots of sweet, sweet chocolate.
“For chocolate lovers, this store is all about the chocolate experience! It offers more than 85 varieties of premium fresh chocolate shipped directly from Switzerland, including its famous FrischSchoggi (fresh chocolate in Swiss German) counter which includes more than 20 varieties of chocolate bark,” says a press release. “All chocolate is made from bean-to-bar in-house and shipped directly to the store guaranteeing its quality and freshness, which is second to none.”
Operating since 1962, Läderach is family-owned and until recently only had stores in Switzerland. Elias Läderach is one of the heirs to this chocolate fortune and was named World Chocolate Master in 2018 for his “lightning-fast technique, perfectionist attitude and flawless execution.”
The chocolate store is one of a number of new shops and eateries at the mall on S. Hayes Street. There’s now a Levi’s store, Mediterranean restaurant Sante, and a Day & Night Cereal Bar that specializes in milkshakes and cereal, among others.
It’s finally going to feel like May today, with the temperature nearing 90 degrees — just in time for some outdoor chocolate sampling.
The event is being held from 6-8 p.m. at the Arlington Arts Center in Virginia Square (3550 Wilson Blvd).
Andelman and Springfield will be discussing their methods and how they got their start in art and business. Chocolate samples and light refreshments will be provided. Admission is free, but registration is required.
Fifteen restaurants and shops are participating in “Shirlie’s Chocolate Crawl,” with free mini-chocolate ganache and chocolate and cream cheese cupcakes at Best Buns and a free chocolate tasting at Cheesetique among the offerings.
The event itself is free for participants, who must register online. With the temperature expected to be in the mid-70s and no rain in sight, the event should draw dozens, if not hundreds, of chocolate lovers to the streets of Shirlington.
Here is a list of the participating businesses, according to the event website:
- Ah! Love Oil and Vinegar — An opportunity to meet the gourmet shop’s “Chocolate master” and pair spices and chocolates.
- Best Buns — Free mini cupcakes in chocolate ganache and chocolate cream cheese flavors, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. while supplies last.
- Blue Sea Seafood & Bar — Complimentary chocolate strawberries and $5 chocolate martinis. From 4:00-7:00 p.m., Blue Sea is serving $1 oysters.
- Bungalow Sports Grill — $4 “coco loco” shooters.
- Busboys & Poets — The café will be serving $9 chocolate martinis, $7 gluten-free hazelnut chocolate, $6 chocolate layer cake and $6 white chocolate banana bread pudding.
- Café Pizzaiolo –House-fried dough with chocolate drizzle, paired with two 4-ounce chocolate stouts ($10 sharing plate for two) and a chocolate stout float ($7 single serving).
- Cheesetique — Meet Rob Kingsbury of Kingsbury Chocolates and enjoy a free chocolate tasting from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Plus, happy hour from 4:00-7:00 p.m., including $2 off all beer/wine, $4 off all three-item or more cheeseboards.
- Copperwood Tavern — Serving “Shirlie’s Raspberry Chocolate Martini” made with Bailey’s, Stoli Vanilla, Kahlua and Chocolate Raspberry sweet moonshine.
- Dogma Bakery — 15 percent off all chocolate or expresso colored beds, and limited time only carob coated bully sticks.
- Hardwood Artisans — “Fresh baked Ghirardelli Brownies & other goods. Perhaps some wine, too.”
- Le Village Marche — 10-40 percent items in the store, with free chocolate giveaways. The signature item for the event, chocolate-dipped Oreos, will be served here.
- Luna Grill & Diner — Luna is offering an extensive $4 dessert menu, which can be paired with $4 chocolate martinis.
- PING by Charlie Chiang’s — Two chocolate cocktails will be on the menu, and local chocolatier Robert Rhoda of Tempered Chocolates will be on site as with samples of his debut line of Tastes of Asia Truffle Collection: Sesame Sake Truffle, White Chocolate Yuzu Matcha Truffle, and a Lapsang Souchong Chai Truffle.
- Samuel Beckett’s — Sample “Sam & Shirlie chocolate specialty drinks.” Customers get a chocolate dessert free with a dinner entrée and drink from the “Land and Sea” menu.
- THAI in Shirlington — $5 chocolate martinis.
The Curious Grape, at 2900 S. Quincy Street in Shirlington, held its first chocolate tasting last night, guiding attendees through tasting five high-end chocolates. It’s the first in a series of chocolate tastings and seminars that Curious Grape plans to offer through August.
During the tastings, which range in price from $3 to $5, customers can come in between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. and taste five “rare heirloom varieties of chocolate,” said Curious Grape owner Suzanne McGrath. Artisan chocolate-making, she said, has been on the rise recently.
“There have been developments with chocolate in the past few years,” McGrath said. “Chocolate really is like wine. It depends on where it’s grown, how it’s grown and how it’s processed.”
At the chocolate seminars, attendees will taste more than 12 chocolates, with guidance and commentary from McGrath, and watch informational videos on chocolate production, McGrath said. The seminars cost $15 and accommodate 34 attendees.
“People are pretty jazzed by the end,” McGrath said. “It’s a lot of caffeine.”
Chocolate tastings will be held Aug. 13, 15 and 22, and will explore the differences in chocolate offered by single brands, or the variance between different brands making chocolates at the same cacao percentage, McGrath said. The 90-minute chocolate seminars will be held Aug. 19 and Aug. 26 at 6:30 p.m and registration is still open.
The cafe and wine shop has offered wine tastings since it first opened in 2001, and also offers cheese tastings and seminars, although wine will not be served at the chocolate events, McGrath said.
“Once you start mixing wines and chocolates, you miss the complexities in the flavor,” McGrath said. “There will be no spitting of chocolate.”
Although McGrath had offered chocolate events at her store in the past, she said that the improvements in organic and heirloom chocolate production inspired her to hold tastings and seminars again. Among the more than 40 new, white, milk and dark chocolate bars at the cafe, there is a range of cacao percentages, roasting techniques and conching styles among them, McGrath said.
“Those are big brands for me,” McGrath said. “Ritual is one that uses the same process to make chocolate from different origins, and Fresco uses different methods to make chocolate from one origin.”
But of all the options in her cafe, McGrath said the customer favorite is still Mo’s Milk Chocolate Bacon Bar.
“That’s always been our best-seller,” she said.