Loco for Coco sates chocolate urges

by Brian Clarey

LOCO FOR COCO 1420 Westover Terrace Greensboro 336.333.0029

‘She’s not shaking, not exactly, but she enters the place with a sense of urgency and makes straight for the counter.

“How are you today?” Betsy Gauthier asks her. “Not so good today,” says Avery Bernstein. “I came straight here.” She’s checking out the goods under the glass: fudge, turtles, chocolate bark, toffees, dipped cookies and fruit. “Oh yeah,” Bernstein says. “I know some feminists would kill me, but I’m a woman — we run on chocolate.” Some people drink. Some smoke dope. Some gamble, shop, exercise, preen. Everybody’s got a vice. And this is how Bernstein, who says she comes into Loco for Coco “at least once a week,” scratches her itch. The store, owned by Gauthier and her daughter, Amie Gauthier, carries all manner of the dark, sweet stuff, including odd bits and ends like chocolate pasta, raspberry-chocolate cabernet and chocolate pasta. But the real coco junkies usually go straight for the display case facing the door, which overflows with 20 or so kinds of handmade Belgian truffles — the good stuff. “You’ve got to try this one,” Bernstein says to a reporter, “the one with sea salt.” It’s a fascinating cacophony of tastes: dark chocolate, caramel ganache and a dusting of rock salt. She buys him one like she’s backing him up a beer at the bar. “You can’t eat it in one bite,” she says. “Men always want to do that. You need to take two bites to savor it.” She’s right. And the reporter, long a fan of the magnificent dissonance between chocolate and salt, finds a new favorite.

“We get our truffles from about 45 different suppliers,” says Gauthier. “It’s our signature item.” Bernstein paces in front of the glass. “I need a milk chocolate cashew turtle,” she says. “And that piece of s’mores bark, that one right there. I’m going to eat that one here.” She’s also settled on a two-piece truffle box, but has trouble narrowing down her choices. Definitely one of the dark chocolate ones. And…. “The cr’me brulee is really good,” she says. “And I got the peanut butter last time.” She breathes heavily through her nose. “I’ll go for… the tiramisu.” “Good choice,” Gauthier says, and wraps the package.

A chocolate truffle is a wonderful thing — a creamy ganache center with the consistency of heavy frosting or light fudge, a (usually) chocolate shell, sometimes dipped, sometimes rolled, always luxurious. The reporter, a man of vice himself, is unable to leave the place without buying some. A six-piece box is decided upon, and two of the spaces go to the sea-salt truffle; for the rest he takes some expert advice. A champagne truffle has a dark-chocolate shell and a chocolate center flavored lightly with bubbly; a light dusting of milk chocolate decorates the outside. A cr’me brulee truffle has a vanilla cream center, a milk chocolate shell and a crunchy sugar crust. A tiramisu truffle has coffee ganache and a dark chocolate shell is rolled in cinnamon sugar. A chai tea truffle has spicy chai ganache encased in dark chocolate and then dipped in white chocolate. The truffles are boxed, wrapped and bagged; they are transported to the reporter’s home, where another chocolate junkie waits after a particularly vexing day of career, kids and house. And some time in between getting them in the front door and taking a picture of them for the reporter’s article, one of them disappears. The good stuff never lasts too long.

To comment on this article, e-mail Brian Clarey at