Just outside of the Lightner Museum on Granada Street, are two St. Augustine sweet spots: Hot Shot Bakery & Café and Claude’s Chocolates. These sweet neighbors each have their own specialties, and between the two of them, I was able to get a made-from-scratch breakfast sandwich on fresh bakery bread for myself and several chocolaty souvenirs for my family. It was a win-win.
Hot Shot Bakery & Café
I found out about Hot Shot Bakery & Café a couple of years ago when I was looking for places to try traditional Minorcan food in St. Augustine. While St. Augustine is more well known for its Spanish cuisine, St. Augustine also has a strong Minorcan food culture. Since I’d never had any food that could be described as Minorcan, I was keen on trying some. Specifically, I wanted to try a Datil pepper. Datil peppers are grown only in St. Augustine, and the city has been cooking with them for many years. They are the secret ingredient in many of St. Augustine’s signature dishes, including Shrimp & Sausage Pilau and Minorcan Clam Chowder. Only the brave souls will eat Datil peppers by themselves or dipped in chocolate, as Hot Shot Bakery prepares them.
This is where I shall amend my previous statement: I thought I wanted to try a Datil pepper. This was before I knew how hot Datil peppers are. “How hot is a Datil pepper?” you ask. There was a lovely chart at Hot Shot Bakery explaining this. Datil peppers are “rated up to 300,000 Scoville Heat Units.” Since jalapenos are ≤8,000 Scoville units, Datil Peppers are about 30 times hotter than a jalapeño pepper. They are hot enough that you only have to eat one to get your picture on the Wall of Flame.
Needless to say, I was not up for the challenge. Nothing hotter than a jalapeño before breakfast, right? If it’s not a rule, then it should be. Instead, I opted for one of their homemade ham & egg breakfast sandwiches. I had to wait a few minutes for them to make it from scratch, but it was worth the wait. As you can see, it was literally stuffed with ham and eggs, and served on a flavorful, healthy grain bread. My friend really liked their cinnamon pull-aparts. You can also get lunch and Datil B Good hot sauces here.
Our next stop was Claude’s Chocolate next door. Claude’s Chocolate was recommended to me by Kathleen Hurley, the former owner of the Casa de Sueños Bed & Breakfast Inn on Cordova Street. Claude specializes in Belgian chocolates similar in quality and price to Godiva chocolates. It’s some of the best chocolate I’ve ever had. Both the dark and the milk chocolates impress. I purchased a small container of their candy-coated milk chocolate shells, and I ate them all before my family even got a chance to try them. They’re that good. It’s a good thing I also got the family a box of chocolate bonbons.
More from the WWW:
Catch 27’s Minorcan Chowder and Hot Shot Bakery’s Chocolate-Dipped Datil Pepper Challenge were both listed as “must try food experiences in St. Augustine” by Simply St. Augustine. See the full list here: http://www.simplystaugustine.com/dining/10-must-try-food-experiences-in-st-augustine/.
If you can get your hands on some Datil peppers, then you can cook a pilau at home. Pure Florida posted a recipe for you @https://pureflorida.blogspot.com/2007/06/blog-post_22.html. Pilau is similar to jambalaya in taste, especially if you are making one with shrimp and sausage.
Keith Pandolfi of Saveur speaks highly of O’Steen’s Minorcan clam chowder. Saveur also provides a recipe for Minorcan clam chowder at: http://www.saveur.com/article/recipes/minorcan-clam-chowder.
St Augustine has another bakery/chocolate shop duo with The Spanish Bakery and Whetstone Chocolates in the Salcedo House & Kitchen on St. George Street. I featured them both, briefly, in a post I wrote on St. Augustine’s 450th Anniversary (September 8, 2015): http://flillustrated.com/2015/09/08/today-in-history-the-florida-edition/.
For more about the history of Minorcans in St. Augustine, check out Anna Hamilton’s article for the Southern Foodways Alliance, at: https://www.southernfoodways.org/oral-history/minorcans-of-st-augustine/.