28 December 2011

Promis Juré!

Chocolate shops are everywhere in Brussels. The standbys are still found in the Grand Sablon, but if you stroll the city, you'll find plenty more--including the likes of chocolatiers like Laurent Gerbaud's on Rue Ravenstein. Asian influences are showcased not only in the ingredients he uses in his chocolates, but also as part of his logo: the word "chocolate" in Chinese is stamped on the red seal packaging all his beautiful products.  The shop is a combination tea shop (delicious hot chocolate served here) but also a place where you can schedule a chocolate tasting or take a workshop on how to mold and  put together those precious wafers studded with pistachio, almonds, dried fruits and more. Laurent also dips Dandoy's famous biscuits in his handmade chocolate. As his sign states, there's no additives or preservatives in his chocolate. It's pure, unadulterated pleasure--made with love, served with pride, and as I can attest--devoured with gusto. (I swear to God!)

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14 December 2011

Joyeuses Fêtes: memories of chocolat chaud

It's a grey day out--the color of Paris at Christmas time in a way--and I am missing the streets and the City of Light when it dazzles the most. Yes, even though often grey outside in December, Paris is somehow filled with a glow always. Here's what I am missing the most today:
A visit to La Charlotte de l'isle on the Ille St. Louis--a tiny spot for late afternoon hot chocolate or tea--and a slice of lemon tart drizzled with dark chocolate. I was thinking about this after re-reading my story in AAA Home & Away magazine this month (the cover story--hurray!) A French Twist on the Holidays: Parisian Noel  If you cannot access it without a zip code, type in 55417 (:
For several years, my best friend Angie and I went to Paris in early December--it is a lovely time to visit and I am thinking it's time in 2012 to start up the tradition again.  For today, I only wish there was a place like La Charlotte de L'isle to go to in Minneapolis or St. Paul. A small shop, where everyone is crushed together--and there is even a piano squeezed in against one wall. (If you're lucky you might hear a piano recital.) The best part--the hot chocolate was served in real cups and arrived on a tray with a carafe of water because the chocolate was so sweet and heavy.