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Three bottles of rum ready for tasting at Outer Banks Distilling, in Manteo, North Carolina

Rum Days at Outer Banks Distilling in Manteo, NC

On a visit to Outer Banks Distilling, in Manteo, on the beautiful North Carolina Outer Banks, prepare to be shocked… then delighted… and then oh so mellow.

Three bottles of rum ready for tasting at Outer Banks Distilling, in Manteo, North Carolina

The Shock of the Raw… Rum in the Making

Raw rum, right from the still is…an experience. A pretty shocking one at that. As a small glass of the stuff was handed to me, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I held it to my nose. Whoa! The fumes knocked my head back. Gingerly, I brought mouth and glass together and sipped. Whoa again! At first touch, my lips were burning. Within seconds, my tongue was numb.

“At this point, it’s 180 proof,” said Scott Smith, one of the four owners of Outer Banks Distilling, who was leading my group on a tour. “It’s got a long way to go before it’s drinkable.” He was not exaggerating.

I’m not a heavy drinker by any stretch, but I do like rum. It has long been my spirit of choice. Hot and buttered, mixed into a Cuba Libra, with a tropical Latin touch a la mojitos and piña coladas, most of the cocktails I actually enjoy include rum. So I was delighted to have the opportunity to visit the first “legal” distillery on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Even better was the chance to taste several of their flavored Kill Devil Rums and see where and how these deeply-flavored spirits are made.

Note: My trip to Outer Banks Distilling was sponsored by the Outer Banks Visitors’ Bureau, to whom I am very grateful. Their generosity had no effect on my opinions expressed here. I truly was blown away.

Four Men and a Passion

Opened in 2015, the distillery was started by four local pals—two brewers and two bartenders. Bonded by their common love for good beer and rum, they decided they wanted to kick the Outer Banks alcoholic scene up a notch. They started a self-designed crash course in rum, including the horrible sacrifice of sampling as many kinds of rum as they could get their hands on.

They taste-tested rums from the Caribbean, from Fiji, and from other US craft distilleries. They took university courses in distilling and tried and tested everything they were learning until they were satisfied they could produce a world-class product right on the Outer Banks.

As a first step. they found a perfect 65+-year-old brick building in the town of Manteo, reinforced the floor with concrete to bear the weight of four 1200-liter tanks and the 300-liter copper pot still from Arnold Holstein, a world-renowned manufacturer of distilling and brewing equipment. Beautiful in its industrial detailing, it looks for all the world like a giant copper oboe standing upright in a stainless steel tub.

The 300-liter copper pot still from Outer Banks Distilling looks like a giant copper oboe in a stainless steel tube.

The 300-liter German copper pot still at Outer Banks Distilling is a beautiful piece of equipment.

Formal studies and travels behind them, the foursome brought in their first barrels of molasses, thick and dark and oozing. They fired up that beautiful still. And then they made their first batch of Outer Banks Distilling Kill Devil Rum. In the short 2½ years since, they’ve racked up several international awards.

Outer Banks Distilling—Rum Strong Enough to “Kill the Devil”

The name of the rum they create actually has two sources. The first is the Kill Devil Hills, just north of Manteo. In earlier times, rum was made almost exclusively in the Caribbean, the source of the sugar cane that created its molasses base. After manufacture, more than a little of that rum was shipped north. Unfortunately, some of the ships didn’t make it to their destinations. Instead they were caught in the shallow shoals that line the North Carolina Outer Banks—often referred to as “The Graveyard of the Atlantic.” In those turgid, shallow waters, many foundered and sometimes broke up, and barrels of rum washed ashore…a fact the locals did not seem to mind at all. Delighted with their windfall of rum “strong enough to kill the devil,” locals fondly began calling the area the Kill Devil Hills. Three of the distillery’s four partners live in these beautiful sandy dunes.

The dunes of the Outer Banks of North Carolina

The Outer Banks of North Carolina have been nicknamed “The Graveyard of the Atlantic” for the large number of ships
that have been wrecked on its rocky shoals, sometimes washing barrels of rum ashore.

The second name association is the rum itself, and it goes even further back. In 1650, rum from the Barbados was called “Kill Devil.” The owners liked the double meaning and its association with the location. Kill Devil Rum was born.

An Appropriate Motto at Outer Banks Distilling–”From Molasses to Glasses”

Good molasses is still at the heart of making good rum. Today the distillery gets most of its molasses from sugar-cane fields in Florida and Louisiana. “We just don’t grow sugar here in North Carolina,” Scott explains. Sometimes demerara sugar is also added. They use yeast from the island of Guadaloupe. For their specialized, small-batch rums, it’s the balance of molasses, demerara, and the type of barrel used for aging that tells the tale, affecting the flavor profile and highlighting the versatility of rum.

After it emerges from the huge copper pot still, that nose-widening, mouth-numbing spirit I tasted is blended and aged. One of the goals of the foursome of owners is to show the wide variety of styles of rum that can be produced. They turn out silver, gold, aged, and seasonal spiced rums. These varieties are aged in a range of barrels that affect the final flavors, including used Jim Beam bourbon barrels for their signature Gold Rum.

Outer Banks Distilling co-owner Scott Smith tastes the 180 proof pure spirit rum straight from the still.

Outer Banks Distilling co-owner Scott Smith tastes the 180 proof pure spirit rum straight from the still.

The distillery offers tours for guests over 21, by reservation, in their lovely, wood-lined tasting room. I found the tastings eye-opening. My favorite was the Kill Devil Pecan Rum with Honey. Creamy smooth, with a light honey-sweet finish, it seemed to kiss my tongue. It was inspired by the giant pecan trees surrounding the distillery. Both the pecans and the honey are locally sourced. A delightful by-product, the rum-soaked pecans are candied, packaged, and sold in the distillery.

We also tasted the their flagship rum, Kill Devil Gold. Its rich color and depth of flavor come solely from aging in those bourbon barrels. No flavors or colors are added. When Gold hits your tongue, there’s a sudden feeling of evaporation that leaves behind a hint of sugar and cream.

Kill Devil Silver is their example of rum in its purest form. The molasses comes through, lightly touched with notes of vanilla and créme brûlée. It’s an excellent rum for mixing into cocktails.

Pouring the samples at Outer Banks Distilling for a taste test.

Pouring the tastings. Tours and tastings are available by appointment.

Finally, the distilling foursome has fun a few times a year with their specialty rums. Once a year, they drop a new version in their “Shipwreck” series—another homage to their location. Twice a year, at the winter and summer solstices, they bring out their very popular Sol-Spice creations, which commonly sell out in hours, if not minutes. This year, their 2018 Summer Sol-Spice version was barrel-aged and then spiced with a Thai accent—with kaffir lime, lemongrass, and ginger. Last year’s Winter Sol-Spice Rum was aged in once-used apple brandy barrels and flavored with coffee, cocoa nibs, vanilla and cinnamon. Last year’s was made with two different kinds of orange peel, lemon peel, and coriander. Just imagine the luscious combinations still to come.

The ship's wheel from the wrecked schooner "Irma" hangs on the wall of the tasting room at Outer Banks Distilling.

In the distillery’s pretty tasting room, the ship’s wheel of the schooner Irma, which sank in waters nearby, adorns the bar.

As I admitted at the start of this post… I love cocktails made with rum. And so I asked the guys from Outer Banks Distilling if I could share a couple of their cocktail recipes from their website. And they said yes!

Salud! Prost! Cheers!

The Devil Wears Prada

The Devil Wears Prada Cocktail from Outer Banks Distilling, Manteo, NC.

The Devil Wears Prada cocktail

2 oz Kill Devil Silver rum
½ oz cranberry juice
½ oz Grand Marnier
The juice of one lime wedge

Combine all ingredients into a shaker
tin with ice. Shake and strain into
a chilled cosmo glass and garnish with
an orange twist.


OBX Dreamsicle

An OBX Dreamsicle cocktail made with Kill Devil Gold Rum, garnished with a orange wedge.

Oh yum… An OBX Dreamsicle cocktail made with

Kill Devil Gold Rum.

2 oz Kill Devil Pecan Honey rum
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ oz simple syrup
1 oz fresh-squeezed orange juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker tin
with ice. Shake and strain into a glass
over ice. Garnish with an orange wedge.


For more recipes and information about their rums, visit the Outer Banks Distilling website.

Distillery tours are available Tuesday thru Saturday at 1 & 3pm by reservation. Tours cost $10 at the time of writing, and you must be 21 years or older.

Outer Banks Distilling
510 Budleigh Street
Downtown Manteo, North Carolina

Pint it For Later:

A visit to Outer Banks  Distilling in Manteo, North CarolinaA visit to Outer Banks Distilling in Manteo, NC

I bite into my first ever Pastéis de Belém in Lisbon, Portugal.

Hooked on Lisbon’s Delicacy: Original Pastéis de Belém

When in Lisbon, Portugal, eating Pastéis de Belém, the iconic Portuguese egg tart, is an absolute requirement, whether you’re a foodie or not. Here’s why you must try it and how to enjoy it at its best.

I admit it. Last year in Lisbon I became a junkie. Obsessed. Hopelessly addicted.

My drug of choice? The Portuguese egg tarts that fall under the general term Pastel de Nata. And for the best fix of all? The original, the only, the best… the supreme Pastéis de Belém.

Portugal is famous for Pastel de Nata, and you’ll see them all over Lisbon. Most are good, a few are great. Some are just… meh. But once you learn to spot the good ones—and it’s not hard to do—it’s near impossible to pass them up. Or at least it was for me.

A plate full of Pastéis de Belém egg custard tarts of Lisbon.

The beautiful, delicious and iconic original Pastéis de Belém egg custard tarts of Lisbon. Photo by Jordiet on flickr, CC license.


A Religious Source-Tarted Up Like Sally Fields

So how did these pastry treats come to be an almost universal symbol of culinary Lisbon?

Back in the day, say in the 17th century or so, many priestly garments, nun’s habits, headdresses and such were heavily starched. (For our generation, think Sally Fields lifting off as The Flying Nun and you get the idea.) Can’t you just imagine the intimidating “swish” of the stiffened underskirts as they glided past? Anyway, to get that desired stiff and glossy finish, they used beaten egg whites.

But this practice of basically painting their clothes with meringue made for a whole lot of leftover egg yolks lying around monastery and convent kitchens and laundry rooms. What to do? Wasting them would surely be a sin, would it not? Such thrifty folk couldn’t simply toss such golden goodness down the drain.

So the nuns in the kitchens began inventing a lot of special dishes to use up all those otherwise-to-be-wasted egg yolks. (Apparently gluttony must have been seen as a sin of a lesser order than waste.) As it happens, there was also a sugar cane refinery next door to the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, a monastery in the Belém area southwest of Lisbon, so sweet desserts, cakes and pastries became the use-up-the-egg-yolks recipes of choice. Convenient how that worked out, no? Clearly, the religious folks there dined well and often.

Skylinde detail of the wedding-cake Manueline style architecture of the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos monastery.

Detail of the elaborate Manueline architecture of the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos monastery in the Belém section of Lisbon, where the famous Pastéis de Belém egg tart was created and just 100 meters from the bakery where it has been sold since 1837.


Pastéis de Belém as Financial Savior

The sweet egg tarts might have remained safely hidden away within the walls of the convent and monastery of Jerónimos forever, fattening only the prayerful and lucky few. But in 1820, there was a liberal revolution in Portugal, and things did not go well for religious institutions. By 1834, monasteries and convents had been closed down and the inhabitants lost all public and government support. The days of dining on sweet pastries were over. They were left to fend for themselves and hunger was looming.

In order to survive, the nuns from the Jerónimos monastery had the idea to begin selling their delicious egg tarts. The sugar refinery had a small store attached, and this became the first outlet for the Pastéis de Belém (Pastéis is plural for pastel, which means cake or pastry in Portuguese.) Eventually, the nuns sold the recipe to the refinery bakery.

At around that same time, the grandeur of the Manueline architectural style of the monastery itself (which is beyond amazing in its size, wedding-cake ornamentation, and beauty) and the nearby Tower of Belém, became popular tourist attractions with the good folk of Lisbon. They could take a steamboat from the city for a day excursion and sail right up to the monastery’s own docks. The fame of the delicious sweet treats sold at the sugar refinery store, now officially known as Pasteís de Belém, began to spread. By 1837, their popularity had outgrown the small store, and the baking moved to larger premises about 100 meters away. The visitors quickly made their pilgrimages to the new location.

They are still doing it today. Now they come in hordes, both locals and tourists. But these tarts are so good almost nobody minds standing in line for them.

Bue and white sign of the Pastéis de Belém bakery with the date, "since 1837"

In 1837, the business had outgrown the tiny refinery store next to the monastery. They moved 100 meters down the street
to a larger location, where they are still do business today.


A Secret Signed in Blood?

Even 180 years ago, when the recipe was first passed on to the sugar company, the secret of making the perfect Pastéis de Belém was entrusted only to a few “master confectioners.” That still holds true today. And those few who do know it are sworn to secrecy. One guide told me, in hushed tones, that it is a blood oath. Another said it was a signed and sealed sacred legal contract. Then he added that the few people who know it are never allowed to all travel together. Imagine if they were all lost! He rolled his eyes and shuddered quite dramatically while telling the story. Apocryphal or not, it’s a good one, you must admit.

There was a line outside when I got to the Café Pastéis de Belém, just as I had been told to expect. I had also been told it would move pretty quickly. But I was hungry, my feet hurt from wandering the vast halls and lovely cloisters of the Monastery, and I felt like sitting down. So instead of getting in the take-out line, I went in the door to its left, which had no line at all, and into the café itself.

The place is much larger inside than it looks from the street, with many tables winding through several small rooms. Except for the very busiest times of day, it’s generally possible to find a seat without much of a wait. If it looks full, just keep wandering through the corridors towards the back, through room after room, until you find a free table.

You will also find clean bathrooms inside as well as a glass window where you can watch the magic happening in the kitchens as the bakers produce dozens upon dozens of tarts as well as other bakery treats.

I found a seat at a table in a front room, beside a wall covered in traditional blue-and-white Portuguese tiles. In only a few minutes, I’d ordered a pastel and a galea—a tall glass of milky coffee. There are also beer, soft drinks and other options on the menu, but for me, a coffee drink is the perfect accompaniment.

As I bit into this warm piece of heaven, the look on my face must have been like something out of a movie—a sort of Meg Ryan look in “When Harry Met Sally” prompting the woman at a neighboring table to say “I’ll have what she’s having!” The young German couple at the next table started to chuckle. Then with sign language, they offered to take a photo of me enjoying my treat. How could I refuse?

I bite into my first ever Pastéis de Belém in Lisbon, Portugal.

As I bite into my very first original Portuguese Pastéis de Belém, I am tasting a bit of heaven. I will never be the same!

First, you realize your tart is so fresh it is still warm, just out of the oven. The first thing your mouth encounters is the crust. It’s super flaky, like a thousand layers of phyllo-type dough have been gently laid atop each other, with crispy bits offering gentle resistance. Then you reach the warm custard, soft, almost-but-not-quite runny enough that you think it really has melted in your mouth. The top is lightly blackened is spots, like the best crème brulée. Shakers of powdered sugar and cinnamon are offered on the table. Add them if you like—or you must—but necessary they are not.

Ordering a single tart was a mistake obvious from that first bite. It was never going to be enough. I ordered another as soon as the waiter passed by. When I asked him how many of these delightful treats are swallowed here or toted out the door every day, he happily answered. “We bake 20-22,000 on a normal day.” While I was still blinking at that enormous number, he added, “but on special days, holidays and such, it can be 40,000.”

Yeah, you might say that Pastéis de Belém are just a mite popular.

If your goal on heading to the Café Pastéis de Belém is to have some of the tarts to take home for later, my advice is still to go inside and find a seat, order a pastel and a coffee, enjoy it at your table, order more to go, which your waiter will happily bring all wrapped up in a lovely box, and then go on your way. You’ll have your pastéis to take home, you will have had a nice break and a treat, and you will probably still have saved time!

If you can’t wait until you get back to your hotel to tuck into that pretty blue-and-white box for more, the tranquil Jardim de Belém park, directly across the street from the café, makes a refreshing spot to sit and down another one—or more.

Pretty take-out boxes await customers buying Pastéis de Belém in Lisbon, Portugal.

Pretty take-out boxes lined up and ready as the crowd throngs the counter at Pastéis de Belém in Lisbon, Portugal.
There’s always a line, but it moves quickly. Photo by Andres Monroy Hernandez on flickr CC license.


Good Pastel de Nata Beyond Belém

While the original Pateís de Belém recipe is so secret is has never been precisely duplicated—and likely never will be—you will find similar egg tarts everywhere you go in Lisbon. These copycats are called Pastel de Nata and their quality ranges from excellent to good to meh to awful… basically a dollop of thickened custard pudding in a pre-baked mini pie crust, and the whole thing’s been in the display case too long. Most of the Pastel de Nata I had was quite good, and I would have been happy to have it every day, had I never eaten the real deal in Belém.

The best Pastel de Nata I ate in Lisbon, almost, but not quite, as good as the original, was at a small café just outside the entry gates to the Castelo San Jorge at the top of the city. Its name, appropriately and accurately, is The World Needs Nata. The tart was served warm, and I had it with a glass of galea. The custard was rich and smooth, the pastry light and crispy. When I came out from exploring the castle a couple of hours later, I sat down and ordered another!

My personal bottom line for Lisbon: Do not—repeat, DO NOT—fail to make the trip out to Belém while you are in this beautiful city. There is much to see and do there, including the Monastery, the amazing collection in the Coach museum, the Monument of the Discoveries, the Belém Tower and the Presidential Palace, among others.

But for me all that is icing on the tart. The TRUE reason to go to Belém is the egg custard bites, the true, the original, the one-and-only Pastéis de Belém, eaten right where they were created some 200 years ago.

Powdered sugar and cinnamon shakers and a box of napkins sit on the table to add to your egg custard tarts.

Shakers of cinnamon and powdered sugar sit on every table for adding to your egg custard tarts–a nice addition, perhaps, but not really necessary. They are perfect just as they are! Photo by Inayaili de León Persson on flickr. CC license.

As for me, I am jonesing for more Pastéis de Belém as I write this. And since I quite fell in love with Lisbon on my last trip and have plans to go back as soon as possible, I have no intention whatever of looking for a recovery program for my addiction. On my next arrival in this gorgeous city on the Tagus River, I’ll hit the ground running—toward the first tram that will get me out to Belém, a tall glass of galea, and a plate full of warm, crispy-crusted, runny-fillinged goodness. With my plate of Pastéis de Belém before me and a look of total joy and satisfaction on my face, I will be fine once more. Just look for me there.

 

For more information about the original Pastéis de Belém and more pictures of the bakery and restaurant, visit their website here.


Café Pastéis de Belém
Rua de Belém, 84-92
Belém, Lisbon, Portugal
Open 8 am -11 pm in winter, 8 am–midnight in summer

The World Needs Nata Café
Rua de Santa Cruz do Castelo 7,
Lisbon, Portugal
Open daily, 9:00 am-9:00 pm


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A beautifully packaged box of the best chocolate truffles, from the Brigittine Monastery in Amity, Oregon

Are These the Best Chocolate Truffles in Oregon? In the Country?

Recently, my constant search for the best chocolate truffles wherever I may roam took me up a small country lane in Oregon’s Willamette Valley to a place of peace, quiet… and Heavenly Chocolates.

Lives there a Nomad Woman on this earth who does not love chocolate? If so, I have yet to meet her. I most definitely am NOT her. I love chocolate in just about any form—hot, cold, bars, bonbons, drinks, sauces.

A sign at the Brigittine Monastery in Amity. Oregon reads "I need more balance in my life: Dark Chocolate, White Chocolate, Milk Chocolate

Obviously, the monks of the Brigittine Monastery in Amity, Oregon, have a sense of humor. And they know their chocolate is the best.

But truffles? Oh, truffles! Chocolate truffles! The magic of the hand-rolled ganache. The densely flavored outer coating of chocolate. The closing of the eyes and the sinking in of the teeth. Oh yeah. I do love me a truffle or two… or ten. And when they happen to be among the country’s very best chocolate truffles? For truffles that good, I’m even willing to tote some extra baggage weight to take a few boxes of those babies home with me, for myself and for friends who are high up on the “I love you lots” scale.

When it comes to the heavenly qualities of chocolate, the truffles I recently toted home have a unique advantage—being crafted by hand in a monastery. I’m talking about the gourmet chocolate confections made by the Brigittine Monks of the Priory of Our Lady of Consolation in Amity, Oregon.

Chocolate cherry truffle, best chocolate truffles, Brigittine Monks, Amity, Oregon

A chocolate cherry truffle from the Brigittine Monastery in Amity, Oregon

I discovered this place and their products years ago when visiting family in the Willamette Valley, just south of Portland. My sister was a real estate broker at the time and mentioned that she’d just sold a piece of property to a group of monks. And that they intended to support their monastery by making and selling fudge. And that it was astonishingly wonderful fudge. She was right and it was. It still is.

In fact, the fudge is so good it has been written up in The New York Times, Bon Appetit, Chocolatier and even People Magazine, among others. It’s been talked about on The Food Network, CNN and ABC Nightly News. It was even featured on Jeopardy! Yeah, see? This is good stuff!

A sign points the way to chocolate samplings--fudge and the best chocolate truffles--at the Brigittine Monastery in Amity, Oregon

Chocolate sampling? Why yes please! Right this way to taste great fudge and the Best Chocolate Trufflesat the Brigittine Monastery in Amity, Oregon

The monastery, the only male Brigittine monastery in the United States, has been making this amazing, super-creamy, wonderful fudge since the 1970s, when they were still located in San Francisco. Then a few years after settling into their Willamette Valley home in the ‘80s, they added chocolate truffles to their product mix.

The Best Chocolate Truffles…Created Directly from Heaven?

With such a reputation for excellence with their fudge, of course they were not going to be satisfied with anything less than making the best chocolate truffles possible. So that is what they did. And while it is that melt-in-your-mouth fudge they’re most famous for, it’s the truffles that have me driving these Oregon country roads. It’s the truffles that have visions of chocolate-covered creaminess dancing in my head. It’s the chocolate truffles….

As you’d expect, the monastery is a peaceful place, set in pastoral farmland at the end of a mile-long gravel road. The grounds include a vineyard, a small orchard and a veggie garden tended by the monks to help them be self-sustaining.

The Brigittines are a contemplative order and one of their missions is to support themselves “by the labor of their hands.” “We don’t go out into the world,” explains Brother Steven, the monastery spokesman. “But all monasteries have to make a living. Chocolate is our means of support.”

A view of the lovely Brigittine Priory of Our Lady of Consolation, home of the best chocolate truffles in Oregon.

The Brigittine Priory of Our Lady of Consolation in Amity, Oregon, is a place of peace and contemplation… and chocolate.

The road ends at a tree-shaded area beside the Priory church. When I arrive, mine is the only car in sight. The main sounds are the breeze in the pine trees, an occasional bird tweet and my footsteps on the gravel. But then I step into the lovely small church, which is open to the public, just in time to hear the monks chanting the last of the mass. The sound wafts up into the wooden beams and falls onto me in a peaceful sigh. As it dies, they file out of the church to their lunch.

Interior of the priory church at the Brigittine Monastery in Amity, Oregon

Priory Church of the Brigittine Priory of Our Lady of Consolation, Amity Oregon

I stop to admire the quartet of jewel-toned stained-glass windows spilling colors onto the wooden floor at the back of the chapel-sized room. The space seems filled with grace.

Stained glass windows in the Priory Church at the Brigittine Monastery in Amity, Oregon

Stained glass windows in the Priory Church at the Brigittine Monastery in Amity, Oregon

Back outside again, the air seems even purer, softer, the clear Oregon air more benevolent. The shop where the confections are sold is just to the left of the church. Ring the bell next to the door and someone—a monk or lay worker—will come to greet you.

The entrance to the Brigittine Monks gift shop, Amity Oregon, just beside the church.

The entrance to the gift shop is just beside the church. Just ring the bell to be warmly welcomed.

In the small retail space, you’ll find not only the heavenly fudge and those best chocolate truffles ever, but also dozens of books on saints, the liturgy and Catholicism in general. There are rosaries and medals and images and other holy items to remind you how blessed this place and these sweets are.

You’re also greeted by a sign with the purely pragmatic reminder: Chocolate is cheaper than psychotherapy and you don’t need an appointment.

And we know it’s the chocolate you’re really here for. Don’t try to pretend otherwise. You can pick up a T-shirt with the logo of the monastery and a Book of Saints, but we all know why you’re really here. It’s the chocolate….

How Do They Do It?

So what makes this chocolate so good? What makes the fudge so creamy and the truffles possibly the best chocolate truffles you’ll ever eat? Are they really touched by an angel?

A Brigittine Brother adds the monastery's signature swirl to top of one-pound tubs of fudge ready for shipping.

A Brigittine Brother adds the monastery’s signature swirl to top of one-pound tubs of fudge ready for shipping.

Well for starters, they use only the highest quality ingredients: pure cream and fresh dairy butter, local filberts and walnuts, genuine natural flavors and only Guittard chocolate, which comes from the oldest family-owned and operated chocolate company in the U.S., founded by a noted French chocolate maker in 1868. No preservatives of any kind are used either.

Also, the candy is made in relative silence. As a contemplative order, the Brigittines don’t talk as a general rule. It is not a strict silence—speaking is allowed when necessary to communicate—but there’s no chit-chat in the kitchen. “That’s what’s nice about the candy business,” says Brother Steven. “It is something we can do in silence and keep in communion with God.”

Perhaps there is something in this quiet, contemplative life that adds a special richness and depth to the product they produce. Perhaps it’s the level of concentration and attention to detail. Or simply the spirit of peace that permeates the walls and grounds of the monastery itself. Whatever, the chocolate seems just that little bit richer, smoother, more mellow for it, as if this amazing fudge and these best chocolate truffles do have something of the presence of God mixed right into their DNA.

A monk from the Brigittine monastery prepares a batch of the best chocolate truffles for shipping.

A monk from the Brigittine monastery prepares a batch of the best chocolate truffles for shipping.

With modern equipment and old-fashioned commitment, the fudge is mixed and poured, the signature swirl added to the one-pound blocks by hand. The chocolate truffle centers are hand-rolled then hand-dipped before packing.

The fudge comes in seven varieties, including the basic original fudge, with or without nuts, and varieties such as amaretto, extra dark, chocolate cherry nut, hazelnut and pecan praline. Prices range from $11.95 to $13.95 for a one-pound box.

The chocolate truffles come in a dozen varieties. To my mind, the maple ones are clearly touched by heaven and the butter rum chocolate truffles are most definitely inspired by an angel. Then there’s amaretto, mint, cherry. Or maybe you like orange, raspberry, or extra dark chocolate truffles. You will have to decide for yourself which ones you think are the best chocolate truffles. If you simply can’t make up your mind, the assorted box gives you six big bites of yumminess in one package for $13.95.

Whichever you choose, buy more than you think you’ll need or want. Trust me on this.

A beautifully packaged box of the best chocolate truffles, from the Brigittine Monastery in Amity, Oregon

You’re likely to find yourself toting more than one of these babies home with you. Pretty enough for gifts… if you don’t eat all these best chocolate truffles yourself!

Discover Amity, Oregon

Before leaving the area, you should definitely check out the sweet small town of Amity. Step into the Coelho Winery to try some fine local wines. The tasting room is a comfortable space more like an oversized living room with a big wooden bar made of wine barrels and a cozy fireplace for drizzly Oregon days.

Visit the Coelho Winery and Tasting Room in Amity, Oregon before or after a stop at the Brigittine Monastery for the best chocolate truffles.

Visit the Coelho Winery and Tasting Room in Amity, Oregon before or after a stop at the
Brigittine Monastery for the best chocolate truffles.

If you’re hungry, you can’t do better than to stop for a meal at The Blue Goat on Amity’s main street. This very comfortable, locally run place features wood-fired dishes cooked in a specially built cob oven. They use seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. The menu changes almost daily but standard items include goat empanadas and their signature cob-oven pizzas. Innovative salads and small plates are giving The Blue Goat a growing reputation for excellence and drawing foodies from all over the Willamette Valley and beyond.

The Blue Goat interior, a cozy, comfortable place with seriously good food in Amity, Oregon.

The Blue Goat on the main street of Amity, Oregon has been drawing serious foodies from all over the Willamette Valley with their wood-fired, locally sourced creations.

But wherever you stop and whatever you eat and drink… be sure to save room for dessert. Because once you’re back in the car, you’ll remember. You’ve got some of the world’s best chocolate truffles in there! And if you’re anything like me, you’ll be hard pressed to stop yourself. You will have to open one of those boxes for “just a taste” of those Heavenly Chocolates.


If you can’t get to the Brigittine Monastery to buy their amazing fudge and chocolate truffles, not to worry…. You can order them from the Brigittine’s online store. They are also available in several retail outlets in the area and in the Made in Oregon stores in downtown Portland, Salem and other locations. Most convenient for me is the Made in Oregon stores right at PDX airport! If you forgot your chocolate truffles, you can pick up a couple of boxes just before your flight home!

Contact Info:

The Brigittine Monks – Priory of Our Lady of Consolation

Amity, Oregon 97101
Phone: (503) -835-8080
www.brigittine.org
E-mail: monks@brigittine.org

The Blue Goat
506 S. Trade Street
Amity, Oregon 97101
503-835-5170
www.amitybluegoat.com

Coelho Winery
111 5TH Street
Amity, Oregon 97101 USA
Phone: (503) 835-9305
coelhowinery.com/tasting-room-winery


For a glimpse of the modern preparation process of the best chocolate truffles and fudge at the Brigittine Monastery—but always with that blessed human touch—check out this video from.
Travel Oregon.

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