While walking along the shady tiled walkways to the quaint shops of La Arcada in Santa Barbara, a peek inside Chocolats du CaliBressan reveals a candy case filled with tiny turtles, ruby lips, glistening buddhas and classic truffle spheres.
After studying at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de la Pâtisserie, Chocolatier Jean-Michel Carré moved to California with his wife (who was originally from the Santa Barbara area) to focus his career on his love of chocolate. Now at Chocolat du Cali Bressan in Carpinteria and downtown Santa Barbara, Carré spends his days making ultra-rich handmade truffles and bon bons.
Among the store's most popular items are the French Bisous—red lips made with dark and milk ganache chocolate with tangerine—and the Buddha Beauty, a truffle amulet filled with soft salted caramel that comes with instructions to lick his belly for good luck. Influenced by 30 years in the kitchens of restaurants in France, Switzerland and the U.K., each day the self-professed "passionate chocolatier” can be found experimenting with surprising ingredients like avocado, curry, Sichuan pepper, balsamic vinegar and lotus—a special request of the local estate and public garden Lotusland.
If we had to pick a favorite, it would be the La Arcada Turtle with cajeta, Mexican milk caramel—it was almost too cute to eat, but after biting off the tasty little legs of the shiny green treat, an intense craving for more took over. Time to plan another visit very soon. Chocolats du CaliBressan's La Arcada location is located at 1114 State Street, #2; there's also a store at 4193 Carpinteria Avenue, Suite 4 in Carpinteria, CA.