CLEVELAND - When I think of chocolate, I will forever think of a good wine to go along. Or even a beer. I learned the two could be paired to make a sweet treat with a little spark to it.
That is the philosophy at Lilly's Handmade Chocolates in Cleveland. Owners Amanda and Joshua Montague are professional chefs who walked away from the traditional restaurant kitchens so they could open their own candy shop where all the treats are handmade. But there is more to this candy shop than that.
"We make friends easily," said Amanda. "We sell your chocolate and booze," she added, accenting her statement with a smile.
During the Valentine's Day season, there are lines of people looking over the many varieties of chocolate candies made in the shop at 761 Starkweather Avenue. But even when St. Valentine's Day has come and gone, there will still be lines selecting candy and choosing wines or beer.
"Specific beers and wines that pair best with several kinds of chocolates is what we offer," said Amanda. She offered a word of caution, however. "Chardonnay and chocolate are not friends; they don't get along," she said, noting it was just her taste to which she referred. "But if you have a nice zinfandel, now you're talkin'."
It is the little shop owned by Amanda and Joshua Montague. If the last name sounds familiar, it should. It was the last name of Romeo of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet." So important is their story, Joshua proposed to Amanda beneath the New York City statue of the two fictional lovers.
It was there, Amanda and Joshua, both professional chefs, decided to begin their own handmade chocolate shop in Cleveland. So Lilly Handmade Chocolate in Cleveland has a lot of romance behind it. And a lot of romantic love in their candy it produces.
The wines and beers also help.