Appetizers
February 16, 2011
Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates, after a very pleasant storm

By Blair Anthony Robertson
brobertson@sacbee.com

If you think you were busy on Valentine's Day - making that reservation, buying a card, ordering flowers, dousing yourself in cologne - think about Ginger Elizabeth Hahn and her talented staff at Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates.

Valentine's Day was their Super Bowl, their ultramarathon and, it turns out, it was a little bit of history.

I called Hahn the day after the big day for chocolatiers everywhere. Feb. 15, it turns out was a day for here to ask, "Where did everything go?"

"It was crazy. We had our busiest day ever - the most transactions, the most dollar amount ever," she said. "We had a double snake line going out the door all day."

This comes on the heels of a Christmas season that saw sales increase 60 percent from the year before.

When I walked past the stylish, 600-square-foot shop on L Street on Monday, the place was, indeed, jammed. Hahn, her husband and all their employees had the focus and intensity of athletes as they greeted customers, gathered up the orders and rang them up - over and over.

"Everyone is on super-overtime," Hahn said.

And Hahn? She's eight months pregnant with her second son, name still to be decided. The Hahns might go with something to do with Palet d'Or, the bittersweet chocolate treat that is the shop's top seller. I don't know about baby names, but I do understand a thing or two about chocolate. I'm a fan of the Meyer Lemon, the Maya Chile, the Grapefruit and Fennel Pollen Caramel, and the Fleur de Sel Caramel. If you can't decide, get a whole box, find a comfortable seat at home and prepare to savor some of the best chocolates you will ever have. I've also purchased chocolate in bulk at the shop, grabbed a recipe card at the register and did quite well baking Ginger Elizabeth-inspired cookies and brownies at home.

Ginger Elizabeth's fans know Hahn, just 30 years old, was recently named one of the top 10 chocolatiers in North America by "Dessert Professional," the respected trade magazine for the pastry and baking industry. Her ever-expanding customer base also understands that the shop's chocolates are worth the money, that once you have a brush with superb, it's hard to go back to so-so.

Hahn isn't resting on her laurels. The next big chocolate holiday is Easter, then Mother's Day. Meanwhile, she and her staff are planning to launch a selection of jams, as well as sell ice cream by the pint.

Before I let her go, I asked Hahn what she and her husband get each other for Valentine's Day.

"We don't have time to do it, so we normally do a nice dinner the next month," she said. "We eat our fair share of chocolates, though."

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