Seattle's Naftali Chocolates

Seattle's Naftali Chocolates

Many cities in America have been eagerly embracing boutique businesses in recent years. Especially in Coffee Town Everyone has a favorite cafe. The all-in-one supermarket culture is giving way to an appreciation for specialization. Of course, there is always a little pride in being one of the first to discover a bit of local excellence. In a cozy apartment in Seattle's Capitol Hill district lives one of Seattle’s best-kept culinary secrets, which hopefully won’t stay a secret for long. Michael Anton, the hand behind Naftali Chocolates, has recently entered the business of proving what great things can come from being the little guy. His unique, gourmet chocolate recipes are an exciting addition to Seattle’s ever-maturing palate. In the middle of 2008, Michael brought his passion for the cocoa bean out in a quiet debut making gift boxes for weddings and providing a wonderful alternative to wine and cheese at Suite 100 gallery’s steam-punk art show, Anachrotechnofetishism. So, how does one become a chocolatier? For Michael Anton the journey began at the Art Institute of Seattle’s culinary program. While there, he decided to veer into dessert-space instead of diving into the world of full kitchen staffing. “I’m not that kind of chef,” says Anton. For him, chocolate isn’t simply a treat. Sitting at a sample plate of some of his most successful creations, he explains how the careful personalization of a chocolate dish can act as a means of connecting with people. For the art, for the passion and for the people, Michael Anton chose chocolate. Instead of slaving away in a resort’s kitchen, he invents new flavors at home. Of course, Anton has developed some strong opinions on the subject. His is a primarily American audience, one that has lived for generations with mass-produced bars of milk chocolate and mixed-filling Valentine boxes primarily described by weight. “That stuff is candy, not chocolate,” Anton jokes. With a more-than-casual background in linguistics, Michael wants to rid people of the perception of the sweet stuff as being “decadent”. He finds the word “stunning” to be far more apropos, as a good truffle makes a person stop and readjust his or her attitude. Michael presented us with four original creations, each as tasty for the eyes as for the tongue. On the more traditional end he made a Raspberry Cream truffle using chambord and dark chocolate ganache. For those of us used to the super-sweet, neon-variety from the chart-top box, Anton’s has a delightfully natural flavor, as it should—Naftali Chocolates are all hand made with no artificial ingredients. The Whiskey Cream truffle is a wonderful winter piece. It’s sweet but not syrupy, the chocolate mitigating the bite of bourbon while retaining its warmth. The prettiest of the pack is Naftali’s Chocolate-Dipped Marshmallow made with an exotic variety of vanilla from Madagascar. It stands out like a miniature tuxedo-colored statue. The star of the bunch, without a doubt, is the Earl Grey truffle that saw its debut at the Suite 100 show. The balance between the chocolate and tea flavors is perfect. It’s ten kinds of elegant without even a hint of pretension. Naftali Chocolates is just getting off the ground, but interest is growing quickly. Michael Anton, ever the gustatory globetrotter, has plans of integrating a wide variety of new flavors into his custom creations. Not content with the traditional stuff, he’s developing recipes that include little-seen Middle Eastern and Indian ingredients. All the same, Michael’s ambitions for flavor are bigger than those he has for business. He insists that the singular craft of Naftali comes from its ability to devote more time to a smaller volume of clients. Anton has no plans to go corporate or move into a large industrial kitchen. He rather hopes to keep his boutique business local, opening a small storefront and creating custom pieces for individual events.