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Sweet Lorraine's Bob Sullivan talks chocolate

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What inspired you to open Sweet Lorraine’s?
There used to be a store in town called Nuts and Such. They closed probably nine years ago, and we thought “we should open one.” But our kids weren’t the right age at the time, and we had other things going on, and then five years later we’re driving down Waseca [Avenue] and saw a “For Rent” sign here and the idea came back.

Did you have any experience with candy before that?
We lived over in the Netherlands for six years and spent quite a bit of time traveling around Europe. We had favorite candy shops in different cities that we would go to religiously when we were in that area... it definitely gave us a taste for the finer chocolates, better than a Hershey’s Kiss or something.

Can you tell me about some of the various candies you offer?
What we tried to do is get as much of the gourmet chocolates as we could, and as we started getting them we found the local manufacturers are fantastic. Andrew Shotts [of Garrison Confections]: the Food Network has him on all the time! We went with him and Hauser Chocolates Westerly. There’s a Swiss man down there, second generation chocolatier – he’s been written up in The New York Times several times.

Which candies are the most popular for the holidays?
I’d say the truffles and the boxed chocolates are absolutely the most popular. They make great hostess gifts. You know, you have people over, a lot of people bring wine. If you want to bring something a little different: box of chocolates. They always seem to be welcome, and I get more new customers in here because of someone giving them chocolates than anything else. The Garrison, when you don’t want to have massive quantities of chocolate, are beautiful, very impressive and the way he makes them you can taste every ingredient in them.

What are “chocolate covered wine grapes”?
Chocolate, being made from a cocoa bean, much like a coffee bean, picks up regional flavors. We’ll carry some single origin chocolates so you can try a Peruvian chocolate as compared to an African or a Columbian chocolate. We’ll be doing a chocolate and wine tasting at Grapes and Grains [in Barrington on December 21st].