The case of Läderach chocolates in Madison Valley's Ascona Chocolat Suisse blazes against the shop's simple, all-white interior like a well-matted painting or a bedazzled sweater. "I'm Hans," said owner Hans Riechsteiner when I walked in, "Hans Christian Andersen. Ha-ha, not really." Hans ran the popular Arosa waffle cafes for 20 years before opening Ascona six months ago. When asked why he switched from waffles to chocolate, he said, having made more than 750,000 waffles, he and his wife were tired. A woman who came in to buy chocolate for her husband noticed my laptop and said, "This will be a hard story to write. 'Everyone looked miserable. One woman left crying.'"
Hans waxed confectionary about the chocolate shops he ran in the '70s and about selling something that makes everyone happy. He mentioned the same woman bought chocolate for Valentine's Day and was already back. His sales tend to decline after Valentine's, but business is back to normal in about a week. It was hard to choose from the chocolate case's jewel-like contents. Hans's favorite flavor: "All 34 of them." The Milk Coconut's toasty exterior and translucent, creamy middle dissolved instantly on my tongue. Aptly named, the Divine Red Calvados's flavor of fresh McIntosh apples made me realize the problem with regular apples is that they're not made of butter and liqueur.