November 29, 2011
Nick Belmont of Spartanburg stirs the family pot. There is perhaps no better gift than food. While we can’t drive it, wear it, or play with it (okay, drive it), it has the power to connect, to soothe, to heal—and to teleport. Food is a time machine. A certain smell, a specific taste, and you’re five again. Or in college again. Or around the world again. Or, maybe, in your grandmother’s kitchen again. Spartanburg cook and businessman Nick Belmont understands the power of food. His grandmother, Dot Smith, would invite little Nick to help her make her specialty—chocolate almond toffee. Belmont was a quick and careful study, assisting Dot as she prepared her treats for holidays, birthdays, graduations, and just because. Inspired by the happiness that his grandmother’s confection brought, Belmont decided to sell Dot’s special toffee in 2006. But not one to sell out, Belmont got in the kitchen himself, hand-making each delicious batch of Dottie’s Chocolate Almond Toffee. And now? Well, the likes of Whole Foods and Dean & DeLuca sell Belmont’s artisanal batches, along with several local stores. The toffee, available in milk or dark chocolate, is a finger-licking balance of crunchy, buttery caramel with a hint of salt (an inspired counterpoint to the caramel’s sweetness) that smothers toasted almonds. The blanket of chocolate on top, covered with almond flecks, offers a toothsome starting point. Belmont says there is special packaging available for Christmas, though the illustration of his young grandmother on the toffee’s packaging will remain.
A reminder that some gifts keep on giving.
By Blair Knobel
Photo by Paul Mehaffey