Van Otis Chocolates – Manchester

CP Smells Like a Dog Not that kind of smell, I wore deodorant today (although I do keep an extra stick at work for when I forget).  What I mean is, my freakishly alert nose notices smells that others don’t.  This can be a blessing (what’s better than the smell of sautéing garlic and onions?) or a curse (when my 5th grade students come in from recess).  I’ve read that about 80% of what we taste is actually due to our sense of smell, which explains why I love eating and discussing food.  Hubby, on the other hand, has basically no sense of smell which can be a blessing (I can eat as much garlic as I want) or a curse (if a cologne-wearing thief ever robs our home, we’re out of luck).

When it comes to Van Otis, I hope you share my nose power.  As soon as you open the door, you are assaulted with the enticing aroma of chocolate.  The air is saturated with it.  I stuck out my tongue (snowflakes style) to catch what had to be floating chocolate molecules, when my eyes landed on samples of nuts.  And popcorn.  And…holy chocolate, let me list all the items out for sampling today: 4 types of caramelized almonds (regular, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and white chocolate), 3 types of gourmet popcorn (white chocolate, caramel, maple), roasted cashews, chocolate covered potato chips, peanut brittle, milk and dark swiss fudge, chocolate caramels, and chocolate disks filled with Zorvino’s Bacca Z and Fragole wine.  It gets better- the employees don’t glare, so you feel comfortable walking around and sampling one of everything, which you know I did!

How to choose?

I’m at Van Otis to use my bday coupon, of which I have two.  $5 off from WZID, and $5 off plus a free chocolate bar from Van Otis.  I was unsure if they’d let me use both, but I was going to try.

You already know I make sloth-like decisions.  The employee who helped me was extremely helpful.  She didn’t offer unsolicited advice (I’m not a huge fan of that), but when I approached her, she offered helpful suggestions and waited cheerfully while I hemmed and hawed over their extensive selection.

I focused on dark chocolate.  This lets me pretend I’m being healthy (and rationalize eating it all in one sitting).  Each purchase was around $6, and I was able to use both coupons without question, so my loot cost me a total of $2.

The Loot: Rice crispy treat - Cranberry almond bar - Pumpkin truffles - Pistachio creams - Chocolate ginger

The dark chocolate pistachio cream was delectable.  It tasted just like the pistachio pudding my dad used to make (well, Jello boxed it, but dad mixed it!)  The cream was a snazzy green color full of flavor.  I’m so glad I bought three of these.

The dark chocolate rice crispy was good but not distinctive.  I like my rice crispy treats to be super gooey, while this was drier and not worth the 2.99 sticker price.  The milk chocolate pumpkin truffles had a strong nutmeg scent, but I wanted more pumpkin flavor.  The texture was extra creamy and smooth, so if I wasn’t expecting pumpkin, I think I would have liked them a lot more.

The dark chocolate covered ginger was spicy, rich and bursting with flavor, so if you like ginger, buy this!  I prefer a subtle flavor, but Hubby gobbled this up and strongly declared it the winner (which means I get the pistachio creams all to myself!)

Here are a few other stellar chocolates I’ve purchased on other visits that I highly recommend:   Nutty Peanut Butter Egg:  reminiscent of a Reese’s cup but so much better that they don’t even belong in  the same category. The PB filling is sweet, the milk chocolate surrounding it is creamy and riddled with chopped peanuts.  I ate four in one sitting, and would have eaten more, but that’s all I had. Wine-filled Disks:  The Fragole is bursting with Zorvino’s strawberry wine (literally – eat in one bite or the wine will sputter all down your chin).  I recommend buying a bunch so you can practice proper eating technique.  They are especially fun if you pick up a bottle of Fragole wine (available there) and eat them paired.

If you visit, they have a parking lot off a side street so you don’t have to deal with on-street parking.  Van Otis is a good place to go for a special treat or gifts.  It’s too pricey for me to frequent on a regular basis, and some of their chocolates aren’t worth the prices, but others certainly are, and it’s fun work to find them! Van Otis is a great place to stop for a favorite piece.  And keep your eyes open for samples!   ¡Buen provecho!

CP4Less:  Join Van Otis and 95.7 WZID’s mailing list for your birthday coupons
Keep it Local: Van Otis has been selling chocolate in Manchester since 1935.    They have also partnered with NH businesses such as Zorvino Winery and Grape Time Winery to produce chocolates filled with their wines (a portion of Grape Time Winery chocolate sales is donated to the Animal Rescue League of NH).  They sell local products such as wine and maple syrup as well.
I’ve tried three of their wine filled disks.  The bacca Z (surprisingly one of my favorite wines) was my least favorite.  Still delicious, but they get better.  The Fragole is bursting with strawberry wien flavor (literally, eat in one bite or the wine will sputter all down your chin.  I recommend buying a bunch so you can practice proper eating technique.  They are especially fun if you pick up a bottle of Fragole wine (available there) and eat them paired.
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