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Chocolatier expanding shop, tout de suite

Grace Lapsys has a pretty sweet gig – but not too sweet.

Joliesse Chocolates specializes in European-style truffles crafted by French-trained master chocolatier Grace Lapsys. (Dean Hanson/Albuquerque Journal)

Joliesse Chocolates specializes in European-style truffles crafted by French-trained master chocolatier Grace Lapsys. (Dean Hanson/Albuquerque Journal)

She may be in the candy business, but as a French-trained master chocolatier, she doesn’t want to put anyone into a sugar coma. In fact, customers at her Los Ranchos café and shop, Joliesse Chocolates, often comment that her European-style truffles aren’t powerfully sweet.

“The French (style) is not sugary,” Lapsys says as she ladles a creamy concoction behind Joliesse’s seven-seat counter. “It’s very complex. You have a beginning, middle and ending (flavor).”

It’s a taste that clearly has resonated in Albuquerque. Joliesse, just a year old, is already expanding its N. 4th Street operation. The shop is currently quadrupling in size, absorbing two adjacent suites to create a single 1,800-square-foot space.

The growth gives Lapsys more room to craft her truffles ($2 apiece), toffees, chocolate bars, barks and sculptures and to introduce her own line of pastries and desserts.

The extra space also means additional seating for customers who want to savor a snack and hand-crafted drink – hot chocolate, coffee, tea or lattes – and for students in Joliesse’s chocolate-making workshops ($25-50 per person).

“We started out small and tried to keep our overhead as low as possible,” Grace’s husband Troy Lapsys says of Joliesse’s origins. “We’ve had a continuous and strong retail base, and our workshops have gotten much more popular as people became aware of them.”

Grace Lapsys herself honed her craft far away from New Mexico. She was working in the local film industry and logging long days (and weeks and months) in the art department of various TV and movie productions when she realized she needed a major life change.

Having had a longtime love of baking and chocolate – a typical breakfast in her native Philippines was chocolate, sticky rice and evaporated milk – she decided to enroll in a Canadian chocolate school. She traveled back and forth from Canada for three years to study and intern. That led to further schooling in France, where she completed her master training at the Valrhona school.

“All along, the (instructor) would say, ‘Respect the process,'” she recalls.

The training gave her the confidence and know-how to experiment and blend, Troy says.

“It’s getting it to the point where you start to know what’s going to work on a regular basis and being able to create very incredibly non-intuitive flavors that work so well,” he says.

Among Joliesse’s more unusual truffles are a dark chocolate-piñon-smoked serrano chile combo and a white chocolate-rosemary-pinot noir mix. There are more conventional options, too, like Hawaiian sea salted-caramel in milk chocolate and the dark chocolate pecan butter toffee crunch.

Joliesse remains open during its expansion, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, noon-4 p.m. Sunday. The owners expect to celebrate a grand reopening in mid-May.

The address is 6855 4th NW. The phone number is 369-1561.

Shop the city’s Open Space

The new gift shop at the Open Space Visitor Center will sell Open Space-sourced products, such as benches made from dead trees. Gift-shop manager Kristy Anderson is pictured on a bench made by David Mora using reclaimed Russian olive from the Rio Grande bosque. (Jessica Dyer/Albuquerque Journal)

The new gift shop at the Open Space Visitor Center will sell Open Space-sourced products, such as benches made from dead trees. Gift-shop manager Kristy Anderson is pictured on a bench made by David Mora using reclaimed Russian olive from the Rio Grande bosque. (Jessica Dyer/Albuquerque Journal)

Want to own a little piece of Albuquerque’s Open Space? There’s now a store for that.

The Open Space Alliance, a volunteer friends group supporting the city of Albuquerque’s Open Space Division, has launched a new gift shop.

It’s a modest enterprise – more like a kiosk, actually – tucked into a corner of Open Space Visitor Center. But Jodi Hedderig, visitor center manager, says it creates a formal channel for selling products sourced from the city’s 28,000 acres of public open space. She cites examples such as honey harvested from beekeeping operations at Candelaria Farm and the Open Space Visitor Center, benches built by David Mora from dead Rio Grande bosque trees and seeds collected from native plants at the visitor center’s Traditions Garden.

Such items generally were sold only during special events, but an official gift shop is expected to make things more convenient. OSA will run the shop, and proceeds will support the Open Space Division.

“The idea is to offer something of open space that people can take home,” says Sallie McCarthy, Open Space Alliance president.

The shop’s inventory also includes other products in line with the Open Space mission, including books and guides, as well as nature-themed greeting cards and painted silk scarves from local artists.

The Open Space Visitor Center is located at 6500 Coors NW, between Paseo del Norte and Montano. The new gift shop is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

The phone number at the visitor center is 897-8831.

‘Upscale resale’ shop opens in Nob Hill

Julia Jones has opened Kouture Konsignment in east Nob Hill. The resale shop carries clothing for men and women, as well as accessories and some housewares.

Julia Jones has opened Kouture Konsignment in east Nob Hill. The resale shop carries clothing for men and women, as well as accessories and some housewares.

Julia Jones created the store. Now she just wants more stuff to fill it.

Jones opened Kouture Konsignment earlier this month in a revamped office space at 136 Washington SE, just south of Central.

She’s dubbed it an “upscale resale boutique” and has debuted with a inventory culled primarily from friends, family and one significant estate sale.

A recent trip found several racks of clothing of varying pedigree – from Forever 21 to Calvin Klein, New York & Co. to Jones New York – purses (including a few Coach bags), women’s pumps and flats and even a wedding dress.

But Jones wants more of everything. She envisions her shop brimming with men’s and women’s clothing, shoes, jewelry, housewares and other interesting pieces.

“What we’re looking for is not necessarily brand names but what’s in style and what will sell,” says Jones, who came to the business from a corporate communications job at the New Mexico Gas Co.

Sellers can get their items displayed at the store for up to 45 days – and pocket 40-50 percent of the ultimate selling price – while buyers will find most items tagged at under $30.

Jones says the community gets something out of it, too: She intends to donate unsold items to charity.

Though it’s a resale shop, Jones says she wanted to create a high-end experience. The store, decorated in with black-and-gray palette and a Jeremy Knott mural, offers cool water and cupcakes to customers and has a couch-laden “man cave” to keep gents comfortable and occupied.

Kouture Konsignment is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon-4 p.m. on Sunday. The phone number is 554-5491.

In case you missed it:

• As I recently reported on my blog, ABQ Luggage & Zipper Repair Experts has joined Kouture Konsignment in the same commercial strip at 136 Washington SE. The store – where owner Joel Grieshaber repairs anything from suitcases to purses to motorcycle chaps – relocated to Washington from its longtime home on San Mateo, taking its famous gorilla sign/statue with it.

• Albuquerque is finally getting an H&M. The Swedish retailer announced its intentions to open a new 23,000-square-foot store this fall in Coronado Center. The local store will carry clothing for men, women and children.

If you have retail news to share, contact me at jdyer@abqjournal.com or 823-3864. For more regular updates on Albuquerque shopping and restaurant news, visit my blog at abqjournal.com or follow @abqdyer on Twitter.

 

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