Undiscovered New Paltz: Lagusta’s Luscious

An assortment of truffles fills the display case that greets customers as they enter the chocolate shop. Photo by Roberto LoBianco.

If you value the environment, your health, and your sweet tooth, the search for guiltless
goodies can be tiring. But weary wanderers can finally stop looking: Lagusta’s Luscious is the
destination.

Lagusta’s Luscious, located on North Front St. in New Paltz, is a vegan chocolate shop
where every artisan chocolate sold is organic, “fairtrade,” and produced in the store. The shop,
which opened in June 2011, began as an online mail order service. Owner Lagusta Yearwood has since
transformed it into what she calls a “steadily growing” business, frequented by local families,
curious college students, and travelers looking for a unique chocolate experience.

“I started out thinking I was going to be an animal rights activist my whole life, so I
figured this business was a way to incorporate different political issues I cared about into the
chocolate world,” said Yearwood, a vegan chef, blogger and chocolatier. “Just to have something
that is luxurious and decadent, but at the same time has good ethics behind it.”

Assembled behind the glass display case are rows of Galapagos turtle truffles, tiny
anatomically-correct chocolate hearts, and truffles titled, “Furious Vulva.” There are
sheets of strawberries and cream bark and chocolate with edible flowers stacked on
one shelf, and rows of chili chocolate bars and fig and fennel bark on another.

Slightly reminiscent of a ‘50s soda shop, Lagusta’s décor has a retro touch: an old
fashioned mini-refrigerator in one corner, a dated yellow measuring scale hung above the
counter, vintage children’s desks lining the windows, and sitting on top of a display rack is a
rusty toy Tonka truck.

Behind the counter, in plain sight of customers, is the store’s production area- a sight
that adds a charming element of controlled chaos to Lagusta’s. There are racks of overflowing
chocolate molds, layers of colorful ribbon, and balls of raw chocolate sitting in pans, waiting to
be shaped by women wearing bandanas and aprons. They chat and sing along with the mellow
music that is constantly playing as they craft their treats.

“We’re chocolatier’s gone wild!” Yearwood said to the other women who erupted
into giggles. Then they collectively turned to greet a new customer with smiles. “Welcome to
Lagusta’s Luscious!”

They are in for an unexpected, sweet surprise.

 

Hannah Nesich

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