Oakland Confectioners Sweeten Wine & Chocolate Cruise

Heavenly Taste recently relocated to Oakland.


Images: Kristan Lawson

During TasteTV's tenth Chocolate & Wine Cruise on San Francisco Bay last Saturday, passengers sipped the wares of local vintners while savoring sea-and-city views and sampling sweets from local confectioners including Flying Noir and Heavenly Taste, both of which are Oakland-based.

Matt Elkin founded Heavenly Taste in Danville five years ago, then moved west of the tunnel last year, drawing upon toffee traditions three generations deep. 

"My grandmother invented the recipe, and it took me a while to convince her to teach it to me," Elkins said.

"Once I was out of college, I had some time which I wanted to spend making these toffees that so many people had already tasted and loved."

Sold at Piedmont Grocery Co., Rainbow Grocery, and other stores — and having won multiple medals at various chocolate and toffee competitions — Heavenly Taste toffees come in several varieties, including milk-chocolate/toasted-coconut/macadamia, dark-chocolate-almond, dark-chocolate-white-chocolate/cashew, and Elkins' personal favorite: white-chocolate/cherry/pistachio.

Elkins donates a portion of his profits to Suburban Roots, a nonprofit he has founded that installs backyard gardens in Bay Area homes at no cost to owners thanks to the CA Turf Rebate Program, which pays homeowners to remove their lawns and replace the grass with drought-resistant turf. 

Serving up literally sparkling samples of the edgily flavored ganaches made from natural and sustainable ingredients that have helped her micro-batch handcrafted Flying Noir chocolates win awards at the North America Truffle Artistry competition and other contests was artist-owner Karen Urbanek, who has used rosemary, saffron, pimento, Sichuan peppercorn, laurel, wasabi, and many other creative flavorings over her many years spent traveling "a path of exploration in chocolate."

TasteTV's next cruise is set for July 14.

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