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Towson Times
By Meredith Schlow

Good chocolate for you special Valentine sweet
Even if your annual St. Valentine’s Day shopping list doesn’t go beyond card, flowers and chocolates, you might be surprised to find how much your love will appreciate even a small departure from the ordinary. So by-pass that convenience store candy and visit A. Kirchmayr Chocolatier, where owner Albert Kirchmayr and employees are busy preparing for Feb. 14.

On a recent weekday afternoon, the smell of chocolate is strong in the tiny front room where the confectioneries are sold. Behind the door, chocolatier Jeff Holben is busy wrapping heart-shaped chocolate shells in red foil. They will be filled with bite-sized chocolates, hundreds of which are cooling on racks near where he stands.

“This is the appealing part of it,” says Kirchmayr, who celebrated his business’ 10 year anniversary last year. “People can see that everything we sell is made right here, and know that it’s always fresh.”

Kirchmayr, a former country club chef who trained as a chocolatier in Germany and Switzerland, says he chose the tiny building --- a former BGE sub-station that is still owned by the utility company --- because he wanted to make and sell his chocolates in the same location. All of his European-bought equipment, his office and the little shop fit cozily in just 1,000 square feet.

“It still looks like an abandoned building,” jokes Kirchmayr, 42. “But now we are bursting at the seams. You have to start small because it’s not an industry that already exists. You have to create a demand for stuff.”

It seems that one taste is enough for some. Customers recently stopped by to pick up chocolate before visiting friends, explaining that their hosts “aren’t going to let us get away without bringing this chocolate again.”

“It’s surprising how many people want us to ship chocolate all over the country. This type of business doesn’t  exist in every city,” says Kirchmayr, adding that just the opposite is true in his native Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

“There, the chocolate industry is so saturated that people need to always come up with something else. I talked to my old boss recently, and he said the only thing they haven’t done is coat a shoe with chocolate.”

You won’t find chocolate coated shoes at A. Kirchmayr, but you will find Champagne, Amaretto and Cointreau truffles. You’ll also find beautiful chocolates flavored with cherry marzipan, orange, raspberry, mocha and whiskey, to name a few, and edible boxes made of marbleized chocolate that are truly works of art.

“This is stuff for people who have everything, and they can’t get anything like this in a department store,” says Kirchmayr. “It’s special.”

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