By Tom Adkinson
GRAPEVINE, Texas – Sue Williams wanted to be a county agricultural agent, but she became a medical doctor and a chocolate maker instead – and the world is a better place for that.
Just ask anyone who visits Dr. Sue’s Chocolates, one of dozens of independent shop on the main street of Grapevine, a vibrant little city with a distinct identity in the urban region that is the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.
When Dr. Sue (that’s what everyone calls her) finished undergraduate school, her dream of being an ag agent died because the times dictated that was not a job a woman should have. Instead, she went to medical school, honed the candy making skills she learned from her mother and gradually developed a local reputation for chocolates as well as for healing sick patients.
“I always liked to cook and entertain. My mother was a great cook, as so many Southern women are, and I learned from her,” Dr. Sue said as she showed visitors around her cozy shop.
She loves medicine – and continues to practice – but dark chocolate became a passion. She even attended the Chocolate Academy in Chicago for specialized training.
What fills the walls and display cases inside Dr. Sue’s Chocolates is true artisan chocolate. All ingredients are natural and non-GMO, and color in any of the specialty creations comes from an organic vegetable powder, not dye.
The most popular item in the shop is cherry pecan bark. It features toasted Texas pecans, tart Michigan cherries, organic brown sugar, organic butter, ancho chili powder, natural vanilla, sea salt and Texas port wine. The wine comes from a neighbor just down Main Street, the Messina Hof Winery.
Another in-demand item combines dark chocolate, blueberries and ancho chili powder. The blueberries offer fruity sweetness, and the chili powder provides a slightly delayed kick. An unusual item to many people is ginger fig chocolate that is made with Turkish figs, organic crystalized ginger and sea salt.
“I promote the consumption of good things, the use of good ingredients and the reading of food labels,” Dr. Sue said, showing she really can combine being a doctor with being a chocolatier.
There’s a feel-good aura inside Dr. Sue’s Chocolates, and that comes not just from the feel-good sensation of eating decadent chocolates. It also comes from knowing that the shop is plugged into the local charity scene by supporting approximately 50 charities a year.
“Grapevine is a community of artisans. We are woodworkers, bakers, vintners, glassblowers and more,” Dr. Sue said. And every artisan in town would add chocolatier to that list, too.
(Grapevine, named for wild mustang grapes that were abundant in the early 1800s, is between Dallas and Fort Worth. In fact, part of the sprawling DFW Airport is in Grapevine. It is the location of GrapeFest, the largest wine festival in the Southwest. Travel information is available from the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau.)
Travel writer Tom Adkinson’s new book, “100 Things To Do in Nashville Before You Die” is available at CornersOfTheCountry.com.