Fallbrook, a charming and historic town nestled among avocado orchards, is in the heart of North County San Diego. In a small storefront off the beaten path is Guanni Chocolates, a chocolate store full of confections which defy modern commercial definitions.
Mariella Balbi is not just a chocolatier, but a talented chef and visionary. She gives us a tour, beginning with the story of Peruvian Criollo chocolate and the connections she has with the cooperative which produces what is considered the best chocolate in South America. In addition to supplying pure high grade cacao and cacao butter to Guanni chocolates, the cooperative uses Mariella as a consultant to help bring Peruvian goods to the forefront of the world market.
Mariella has woven together her expertise with the native ingredients from her home country of Peru to create super-food infused confections which actually enhance one’s health. Her Wari bar has become my favorite chocolate snack, a rare gem to be savored.
Each bar is 100% vegan and free of any filler additives, such as soy lecithin. She also makes a delicious raw food energy bar and sells Yacon Syrup and Maca, a root powder; both are reported to have rejuvenating qualities.
Mariella’s chocolates and her approach to business stand out in the urban bustle of San Diego. She is adamant about maintaining the highest quality ingredients and does not cut corners as competitors so often do. Her kind and generous persona shines through in everything she sets out to accomplish. Like Vianne in the movie “Chocolat,” she inspires her clients with her chocolate creations, stopping just short of prescribing the chocolate for various afflictions as Vianne does.
The visit to the Guanni chocolate works was inspiring and rejuvenating. In addition to the store in Fallbrook, she sells her delectable confections at nine markets in Southern California including the Hillcrest Farmers Market every Sunday. Wari Bars are also available at Venissimo Cheese shops around San Diego County. Guanni ships everywhere, to order online go to guannichocolates.com