Until you’ve perused the works of internationally recognized artists on the First Thursday art walk or fine dined at local gem Il Terrazzo Carmine, you’d probably think Pioneer Square is all quirk and no finery. But did you know Pioneer Square is home to some of the fanciest chocolates in Seattle? Meet Aaron Barthel, chocolatier and founding owner of Intrigue Chocolates Co.
Since opening in November 2010, Intrigue Chocolates has been making fine chocolate truffles crafted in the French tradition. A defining quality of Aaron’s chocolates is how fresh and natural they are, as they are often organic and local. New flavors rotate in and out according to season.
Being in the Intrigue shop is an experience in itself: instead of rows of pre-packaged chocolates lined on shelves, you are greeted by a long stainless steel chef’s table and a chalkboard outlining the season’s offerings. It is a chocolate artisan’s workshop where assorted spices are kept in jars on racks, immersing you in the process of chocolate creation. Instead of a cashier waiting for you to buy a mysterious box of chocolates, you are greeted by Aaron in his chef’s coat ready to take you on a tasting tour of some traditional, yet wildly inventive chocolate flavors.
First things first, Aaron informs you of how to truly taste the chocolate. The truffles at Intrigue Chocolates are not to be munched on in the conventional sense, but are designed to melt in your mouth. The truffles lack the distracting hard shell and are dusted with cocoa power, leaving the taster to discover the complex flavors of the chocolate as it melts. Aaron is so passionate about the flavors of his chocolates, he often hosts chocolate and wine pairings as well as pairings with Zoka Coffee and Zen Dog Teas. “My favorite customers are a tie between those who are blown away by their first chocolate tasting and those who come back to revel in new flavors every month,” says Aaron.
Aaron’s passion for chocolate spills over to the historic location he chose to put his shop. His upper level space overlooks the streets of Pioneer Square and gives a unique vantage point of neighboring picturesque historic buildings. We ask Aaron what his favorite part about being in Pioneer Square is. “I love how people who live or work here are intensely passionate about their neighborhood. And it’s never boring!”
So if a customer came into Intrigue Chocolates to buy something in preparation for the zombie apocalypse happening tomorrow, what would should they buy?
“All they could carry. Seriously. Chocolate will give you a reason to keep on fending off the undead. And who knows? Maybe good chocolate is a cure for the alien virus that turned them in the first place. Not that I need an excuse to buy more chocolate….”