I haven’t had much luck so far with hot chocolates in Texas, and in particular Houston. They usually range from mediocre to some of the worst hot chocolates I have had ever, anywhere. That is….until now. Today I had a hot chocolate somewhere along the highway between Houston and Dallas which easily rates as one of my favourite hot chocolates of all times.
We were driving along the rode from Dallas to Houston on a Saturday afternoon. The TX-6 state highway doesn’t make for the most scenic drive in Texas, but somewhere right in the middle is the gorgeous town of Calvert. It is a bit of an oasis really, as all of a sudden you are on the main street of this town lined on either side with colourful heritage houses. Looking like it could easily feature as the set of an old Western movie, it is the local railway that brought prosperty to this town over a century ago. And right on queue, a train passes by on a track just half a block away – it feels like we have stepped back in time.
Today many of the inhabitants were outside, sitting on rocking chairs along the main street, waving American flags. We wanted to stop for a stretch and a coffee so we thought we would check out what all the fuss was about. A local told us that a firefighter had been killed the night before and they were having a procession of fire trucks along the highway for him. Once the trucks passed, we made our way to a chocolate shop called Cocoamoda, in the hope that they’d have a hot chocolate.
It was completely random that we found this chocolate spot, on this particular highway, in this particular town, but what a find it was. The owner and head chef is originally from the UK and found this beautiful building (the old Bank), completely renovated it brick by brick, and opened up a unique little spot that is a mix between a chocolate shop and a restaurant. He creates all the chocolates himself from scratch using his secret recipes. We ordered a few including the crème caramel truffle. They are apparently famous for their Key Lime truffle which, as one of the incredibly friendly staff mentioned to us, has won many awards and been featured on TV. The staff were fantastic, and treated us like family. They explained every element of the truffles to us, almost with a sparkle in their eye.
I asked if they have a hot chocolate….of course they did. I told them I’d love one and then asked what it was made of. The woman sent me to the kitchen out back to speak with the chef himself who was busy preparing the 7 course dinner he was putting on in the restaurant later that evening. The chef was absolutely full of energy and more than willing to chat…about anything and everything. He discussed a lot of things in the 10-15 minutes we were standing in the kitchen watching him prepare that evening’s meal. He explained the whole tasting menu, and was quite insistant that we stay, and was even ready to have the staff arrange for an extra table. He gave us his opinion on all sorts of things, and had us so amazed and interested that we didn’trealize that our hot chocolate had already been placed on the table in the restaurant.
Ah, the hot chocolate. My hot chocolate was beautiful, just beautiful. It was presented in a pot, from which I could fill my cup(I love it when they do that). In the pot was enough hot chocolate for 4 full cups, and I drank it all, every last drop. I had a beautiful white cup and saucer, and also a small pot of freshly whipped cream to enjoy with my drink. The pot and the saucer were all Wedgewood, and beautifully designed as well as totally unexpected. When the chef came out again, I asked him about the hot chocolate because he still hadn’t told me; it was made from 66% cocoa from a Caribbean blend because, according to him, that was a lot better than having it all from one farm because that’s the only way to ensure consistent quality from year to year as the quality from a single source can vary so much year on year.
When I judge a hot chocolate, I look at a lot of things. The taste and presentation of course is a huge part. But a hot chocolate can be made or broken by its environment, the staff, the location, the ambience in the café. This spot had it all, which easily put this in my top picks.
Verdict: Obviously highly recommended. He also has a 7 course dinner that changes weekly that happens just on the weekend. Apparently after all that delicious food, and of course some chocolate desserts, he brings everyone outside to the backyard to make smores. How perfect is that. Cocoamoda, 518 Main Street, Calvert, Texas