Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ethel's Chocolate - Las Vegas!!!

Ethel's Chocolates are visually seductive, and for this reason they deserve mention.  Sexy, trendy, and a little bit sassy, some of these chocolates actually taste pretty good too. Ethel's Chocolates is named for Ethel Mars, the mother of  Forrest Mars (the candy magnate who "invented" M&M's and Mars bars).  Owned by Mars Inc., Ethel's Chocolate factory is located just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada, and offers taste tours for those who want to sample the goods.

It was Sunday insanity at the Las Vegas airport. Everyone was on their way out after a weekend of sleepless debauchery. We were jostled and pushed about with the swarms of other traveling bodies, and found our way, eventually, to our gate.  A quick search for some snacks to complement Southwest's in-flight service of ginger ale and crackers brought us to a slick outlet for these handsome chocolates. 

Somewhere between Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf , Sbarro, Starbucks, and a generic sandwich stand, was the oasis of Ethel's Chocolates. We slipped in and away from the buzzing crowd and ogled the pretty pretty chocolates in the pretty pretty glass case. One piece for $2, or twelve of your choice in a little box  for $16, and so on. The savings continued as you increased the number of chocolates in the box. The workers kept rattling off the savings in dollars. We chose sixteen, and half of them the kind with the hipster retro graphics, supposedly filled with something alcoholic.

I wasn't expecting these things to taste like much, but some of them were pretty good. There were a few, though, that weren't so good. According to the website, Ethel's chocolates are designed by Jin Caldwell, a former pastry chef for Wynn-Las Vegas and the Bellagio Hotel.  To me, however, the chocolates are mostly about presentation. The little retro graphics are masterful, but fillings and flavors aren't consistently great. Overall, the chocolate is a bit waxy, but kudos for all the dark chocolate!

The lemon meringue (above) is fairly great: tangy, lemony along side dark chocolate. The balance is nice, if you are a lemon meringue pie person.  The Etheltini is delicious with a chocolat-y vodka creamy middle.

The Lemon Drop (with the lemon wedge above), is pretty good, not too sweet, but can't taste the vodka at all.  The Chocolapolitan (labeled "Cosmo", which they claimed was a vodka chocolate cosmopolitan), was pretty good, but all of these supposedly liquor filled chocolates are a far cry from their European counterparts (think the German Asbach Uralt brandy filled chocolates that can actually get you tipsy). I could only taste the alchohol if I closed my eyes and tried really hard. So, on the plus side, these alcohol-filled chocolates are kid friendly!

The perfecto mohito (see the graphic of the green drink above) just sucked. Strange sour lemon lime and mint flavors and icky sweet. I couldn't even finish my 1/3 of a piece ration (morsels were divvied three ways for taste testing).

There were many many flavors, shapes and permutations of these chocolates that I didn't buy or sample, so I can't comment on the cabernet wine or the champagne chocolates, or the many truffles and brittles available at Ethel's.  In any case, these chocolates would make great gifts for someone who isn't overly discerning about their chocolate, but who enjoys a visual feast.

And... there are Ethel's lounges in Las Vegas (one in the Flamingo Hotel) where one can sip coffee and other beverages on plush couches while eating vodka chocolates. Might be a fun diversion from the slots.

Ethel's Gourmet Chocolate Lounge on Urbanspoon

Semisweet Chocolate on Foodista


Alisa@Foodista said... chocolates!I should try one of those.I followed you from the foodieblogroll and I'd love to guide our readers to your site if you won't mind.Just add your choice of foodista widget to this post and it's all set, Thanks!

Leela said...

All Ethel's stores in Chicago and the Chicago suburbs have been closed down due to slow business. :-( They have some great truffles and I kinda miss those.