In our heart of our hearts, we consider ourselves artists, and we can spot kindred souls – artists moonlighting in other mediums – from a mile away. Or a country away in the case of UNELEFANTE, the artisanal chocolate line founded by Tatiana Sánchez in Monterrey, Mexico.
This creative tale begins with Sánchez as a bespoke jewelry maker, struggling to sell her hand-crafted wares amid mass-produced baubles. To the rescue came La Lonja Mercantil, a community of design activists who had formed an independent market celebrating Mexican makers. Here, she found inspiration to keep creating, a resolve tested in 2012. After years of effort, she decided to take a break from her business and incubate. In the downtime, she schemed a solution: make a simple custom product and sell it online. Thus the birth of UNELEFANTE. As an artist, her definition of simple trumped the traditional notion: she began her new venture by making massive balloons with custom cards for delivery to folks on special occasions.
The concept caught on, and to expand her offerings, she approached master chocolatier Chef Jorge Llanderal. Together they imagined a line of custom chocolates hand-painted with cocoa butter. The first manifestation was “Pollock,” a bar made of 54% cocoa painted by Sánchez with neon splatters. The next iteration, “El Jardín Secreto” (The Secret Garden), found crystallized flower petals, cardamom and nibs of apricots and pistachios embedded in the 65% cocoa bar.
We carry UNELEFANTE’s foray into toffee: beautiful slabs encrusted with chunks of grapefruit and coffee or nuts and cinnamon. Ever celebrating Mexican culture and creativity, each batch of toffee comes in a Kraft cardboard box with a heart-shaped window laced in yarn, inspired by Mexican embroidery. Bordered by perforation, the stitched hearts can be kept as ornaments, decorations, Valentine’s. As Charles Schulz once said (and UNELEFANTE loves to tout), “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then does not hurt.”
Speaking of love, beyond UNELEFANTE, we will be stocking a bevy of special Valentine’s Day sweets: cherry-flavored pink macarons; heart-shaped petit fours large for two (does that make them grand fours?); s’mores kits (a heartwarming memory for couples to share), Mast Brothers chocolates, including their milk line (in barnyard flavors of cow, goat and sheep); and Big Picture Farm’s goat milk caramels. Or explore our riffs on red from the cardinal satchels of Intelligentsia coffee beans to Stanley flasks and Kontex checkerboard towels. Clearly, last-minute Cupids can choose from a cornucopia of swoon-worthy presents for their Valentine’s.