Sunday, August 16, 2009

December 3, 2002 From the original Chocolate Diaries

The holidays are upon us and as usual, the time since summer vacation has flown by! We have been busy getting ready to open our new café and chocolaterie. As in most construction projects, there have been many delays. We had hoped to open before Thanksgiving, but alas that didn't happen. So, now we are optimistically hoping to open before Christmas. Our fingers are crossed!
Even with all of the activity, our main focus remains to make wonderful chocolates. Last year a special customer requested that Pierre make a toffee covered in dark chocolate. He came up with a fabulous toffee which we have named "Les Pavés", because they look like the paving stones you find in France.
Les Pavés have been very popular locally, and now we are happy to introduce them to our customers online. Les Pavés are crunchy, pecan nutty, buttery toffee pieces covered in dark chocolate. They are packed in attractive 9 and 3.5 ounce bags as well as a very special green Satin Box! Each one is tied with a beautiful ribbon and will make an elegant and much appreciated gift.

Shipping It has been a while since we increased our shipping rates. We do try to keep that cost down, since what you really want for money spent is chocolate! You will see a modest increase reflected on the shipping page, due to rising rates from the post office and UPS.

New Mexico In July we had the opportunity to go to New Mexico for the first time. What an incredible and interesting place, and so different from Florida! Many of our visitors to France had told us that the south of France reminded them of New Mexico, so we were very anxious to go. We saw that if you stretched your imagination, you could make that comparison, especially in the colors and the clarity of the air. But, that's where the comparison stopped. We were fascinated by the adobe architecture and the native American culture. Santa Fe was charming, but our time there was limited, so we walked as much as we could trying to see a few galleries and peeking our heads in a few restaurants. Our destination was Taos, and Hugh and Elisabeth's wedding. (See Chocolate Diaries Issue 9) We knew it was going to be fun, and it was! We also knew it was going to be beautiful, and we were not disappointed.

We stayed at The Historic Taos Inn (800-826-7466) in the center of Taos. This is a lovely old hotel with adobe style rooms, a pretty and quiet courtyard, tasty margaritas, and a marvelous breakfast. It was fiesta week in Taos, so there were lots of people, parties and fun! We saw many of the galleries and enjoyed the festivities, but our real purpose was being with our friends to celebrate their wedding, which was a joyous occasion and gave us a delightful introduction to New Mexico.
Our last night was spent in Albuquerque. We had a very good meal at The Artichoke Café on Central Avenue (505-243-0200). We had salmon with roasted veggies and saffron rice, and a homemade ravioli stuffed with Swiss chard, spinach and ricotta cheese, served with a tomato butter. We shared an excellent bottle of Chateau Trignon Rasteau 1999, and our bill came to $63.90 before tip. Albuquerque is not very interesting, but The Artichoke Café is!
France The weather in France this past summer was unusual in that it rained several times and there were clouds blocking the sunsets most evenings. In fact, the night before we left there was a very strong storm in Marseilles. Pierre had a very early flight, so we stayed at the Hotel Ibis at the Marseille Airport. The next morning Pierre arrived at the airport to find that his plane had been hit by lightning during the night and he had to take a later flight. This was only the beginning of the rough weather. A few days later, it flooded the entire area. Many crops were lost, bridges and buildings swept away, farm animals drowned and at least 22 people died. We tried to keep up by looking at the newspaper on line. We were worried about our friends. Fortunately for us, no one we know was harmed and our village was safe. The total damage to the vines has not been assesed yet, but there were many vineyards that were totally under water! We hope to have more details soon.

We mention the Hotel Ibis, because many of the connecting flights from Marseilles leave between 6:45am and 7:30am. It is much more convenient to stay at the airport hotel with such an early take-off. In France, you can call to make a reservation. Usually there is someone that speaks English at the desk.

The Vines Before the Rain

On a happier note, we happened to be in St Remy de Provençe one evening when they were "running the bulls" in August. These August festivals, called Abrivado are very lively. The streets are roped off (sort-of), and the bulls then are released from the pen to run down the street with the "gardians" (French cowboys from the Camargue) racing after them on their white horses and local boys also racing after the bulls, trying to pull them down by their horns or tail or who-knows what! Each race is loudly announced with the brass band playing and much shouting by the bystanders, who many times must quickly take cover as a bull tries to make his escape! The assortment of people coming to observe is wonderful.

We were lucky to find a really nice restaurant for dinner that evening. Pierre asked for a good recommendation and was led to La Serre 8, rue de la Commune Tel:, The food was excellent, as was the wine. The wine was a Domaine de Valdition . Their web site has lovely photos and a lot of information on the area.The owner of La Serre is the grandson of Gaston Lenôtre, one of the most famous chocolatiers in France. Just another cosmic coincidence!
We hope each of you enjoyed a Thanksgiving with family and friends and this newletter finds you well. We send our best wishes for a happy holiday season, filled with good health and
A bientôt
Pierre and Rainey

July 27, 2002 From the original Chocolate Diaries

April in Paris.......doesn't that conjure up images of cherry blossoms, white fluffy clouds in a bright blue sky with the Eiffel Tower in view, lovers walking across the Seine on ornate bridges and rosy-cheeked babies in strollers in the Luxembourg Gardens? Well, Paris produced all of that and much, much more. It was warm and so Parisians were out en-masse! The trees in the Luxembourg Gardens and in the Jardin des Plantes were a plethora of shades of green, and the flowers in the Tuileries Gardens a fantastic assortment of colors. I was there with a good friend, a woman I have known for many years....someone I knew would want to walk the city, taking in the sights, sounds, smells and nuances of Paris. And that is just what we did: we walked from the Gare de Lyon to the Opera, from the Madeleine to the Pantheon, from the Palais Royal to the Jardin des Plantes. We admired the architecture, we bought long, luxurious woolen scarves in a St Germain street market stand, we ate gooey chocolate crêpes we bought on rue Monsieur le Prince, and we watched the people.

"Paris was the indispensable place, the ample city into which the world poured its treasures...." Maurice Sachs (1906-1945) French writer.

We did, of course, look for some chocolates while there. We found Nicolsen Chocolatier at 112, rue Mouffetard, near the wonderful outdoor market. The chocolates were nicely packaged, but not the best that we have tried. Better ones were found at Jean-Paul H鶩n 231, rue Saint-Honoré At his boutique, all the chocolates were displayed like little works of art, and handled with as much care. The show was really worth seeing.....the chocolates worth eating! Dalloyau 2, place Edmond Rostand, near the Luxembourg Gardens, is also a very exclusive shop and well worth a stop. The tea room upstairs is an indulgent treat!
In the grocery store we found a new Nestlé product called 飬at noir. These are wonderful sticks of dark chocolate with bits of cocoa beans, much like Pierre's Palais Or, that are in the Mont Ventoux Collection. Great snack for the train!
Wallace Fountain in Paris
In Paris, there are 65 public water fountains made by the Founderies d'Art du Val d'Orne at the order of Sir Richard Wallace, who commissioned Charles-August Labourg to design these fountains to increase the amenities of strolling through the city of Paris. In 1872 Sir Wallace presented 50 of these statues to the City of Paris, and the city bought 30 more on its own. There is one in Uzès a town near our village in the south. I had always admired it, and now realize what it is. Most of these fountains are still working, offering potable water to quench the thirst of passersby, just as Sir Richard envisioned over 100 years ago.
Taking the train in France is so convenient. We can take the train from either Charles DeGaulle Airport or from the Gare de Lyon to Avignon, and be there in less than 3 hours. My biggest piece of advise for anyone traveling by train however, is to take a small suitcase! If you can travel light, that is the way to go. If you need lots of luggage, a rental car will be better.
As you read this, we are in France and will return in September. There is lots going on right now, with a new location for our kitchen, as well as a retail store! This is exciting because we have had so many people locally that have come by to purchase chocolates at our commercial kitchen. The new store will be much more convenient. We will fill you in on all the news when we return.
A bientôt; Pierre and Rainey

February 1, 2002 From the original Chocolate Diaries

Pierre's Valentine's Chocolates!
Pierre's carefully selected assortment includes not only his classic pieces, but also some very special Valentine's chocolates such as the Dark Cupid with Cognac Ganache, the Dark and Milk Double Hearts with Raspberry Ganache, the Dark Heart with Grand Marnier Ganache, and the White Truffle Heart with Praliné cream!
Boxed Chocolate Improves Sex Life!

According to a survey conducted in 1999, 29% of all American men believe giving a box of chocolate improves their chances of getting sex, and 8 percent of all American women agree. Silly stuff, but it does get our attention, doesn't it?

The point is that chocolates are a "HOT" item, and rightly so. For those of us that have been in the know all along, we can feel very smug about the rest of the world catching up with us. We've know about Love Snacks (see October 2001 Chocolate Diaries) for a long time!

Speaking of Love Snacks, Pierre's chocolates helped play Cupid this Christmas. Our good friend and webmaster, Hugh conspired with Pierre to place an engagement ring in a special chocolate bar with the message "will you marry me?". We also had a couple of other orders with notes asking us to send the chocolates right away because there was a ring going in the box! Oh the romance! We know that Elisabeth said yes to Hugh, and we're hoping the others went as well. Our best wishes to all...and don't forget your Love Snacks from time to time!

Even Consumer Reports magazine has gotten in the loop. They did a feature on chocolates this month, and even though they weren't savvy enough to find us, they did have some good advice. They said that "Thanks in part to the Internet, your choices in chocolates have expanded.... Armed with a computer or phone, you can buy chocolates from artisan makers located anywhere in the country..."
Conversely, we are able to send chocolates all around the country...and even the world. In fact, this past holiday season we sent Pierre's chocolates to almost every state and to several countries. Pierre even had a call from Paris! A recipient (with a very well known name) of a gift of Pierre's chocolates in Paris called to tell him how wonderful they were and would he please send a large box to her in Paris. Now, we know that there are wonderful chocolates available in Paris, so the compliment was truly appreciated! And on this side of the Atlantic, the compliments were profuse and appreciated also. If some of the comments are true, the lead sentence applies!

Notes on France
Mont Ventoux is an imposing mountain in the northern part of Provence. The town of Vaison-la-Romaine is nearby and not far from Vaison is a chocolatier that is really worth a stop. Last summer we were out exploring with some friends. It was Pierre and three women in the car. Pierre was intent on finding a small walled medieval village that he had read about. As he was driving out from Vaison, he was ordered to turn by three women shouting "CHOCOLATE! TURN HERE!" Pierre and his medieval village didn't have a chance. Three women had made a "chocolate sighting" and we were focused! Christian Chaloin's Chocolaterie is located in a small non-descript building set back off of the road, just southeast of Vaison. Not as diligent and less focused travelers would have passed it by. Our diligence was rewarded with tastings of dark chocolates filled with chestnut cream, ganache, noisettes, Chartreuse liquor and other delights. Like many chocolatiers, he also makes ice cream. Naturally, we had to try some and it was creamy, flavorful and excellent! Christian Chaloin, Artisan Chocolatier84110 Le Crestet Tel : A good source of information on shopping in the area can be found on the Bonjour Paris website.

When we first started the Chocolate Diaries, we promised to bring you some special recipes. Since food and cooking is what we are all about, it's sometimes hard to select just one recipe to highlight. Last summer, we opened up Paula Wolfert's Mediterranean Cooking (1977), and found...
Poulet A La Camarguaise

This chicken and olive dish, from one of my favorite parts of France-the flat rough wild cowboy country of the Camargue. In the Camargue one would accompany this dish with the delicious local rice and braised white onions.
ingredients:1 3-3 1/2 pound chicken, cut into serving pieces

salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup diced bacon

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 cup fresh or canned tomato sauce

1 cup rich chicken stock

3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon crumbled thyme leaves, or a pinch of dried thyme


About 12 juicy black olives, rinsed and pitted

About 12 green olives, rinsed and pitted

equipment: 3 1/2 quart heavy casserole with tight fitting lid

1. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in the casserole and in it brown the chicken pieces on both sides. Remove the pieces of chicken and keep warm and moist.

2. Add the bacon, onion, and garlic to the pan drippings and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes. Pour in the wine, raise the heat, and cook, stirring, until most of the wine evaporates.

3. Return the chicken to the casserole and add the tomato sauce, chicken stock, half the parsley, and the herbs. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste. If the cooking juices are thin raise the heat and rapidly boil down until thick.

4. Five minutes before serving stir in the olives and correct the seasoning. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped parsley.

serves: 4-5

We served this with a 1999 Côtes du Rhône red wine that we had found at one of the local wineries. Delicious!!!

Life in France
The village clock used to be the focal point of life for the village and the surrounding area. Everyone knew when it was time to go to work, come home for lunch, and when there was a marriage or a death in the village. The clock in our village rings twice each hour with 30 seconds between rings. So, at noon it rings 12 times, waits 30 seconds and then rings 12 times again. It becomes very comforting, somehow helping keep a rhythm in our lives. When last summer, the clock mechanism broke, there was an almost empty feeling without the bells. We do hope they have been able to fix it, but as one of the local men explained to us, it's very old and hard to find the parts.
There are still a couple of weeks left open to rent our house in France. If you are interested, please email us at Other pictures are available in the October 2001 Chocolate Diaries
There are some upcoming trips, such as April in Paris, the Fancy Food Show in Chicago in May, and a wedding in Taos, New Mexico this summer. Keep a lookout for details in future Chocolate Diaries!
A bientôt! Pierre and Rainey

October 8, 2001 From the original Chocolate Diaries


Before leaving for France this summer, we heard a young lady describe red wine and dark chocolate as a "Love Snack!". So, we're thinking a lovely bottle of robust red wine (perhaps a Châteauneuf-du-pape, as you will see later), with a box of Pierre's new Mont Ventoux Selection would be just right when one feels the need for a "Love Snack". Doesn't that just sound grand!

We are happy to announce that Pierre and his chocolates will be participating in the "Chocolates of the World" Festival in Jacksonville, Florida October 13 -14 at the University Center, University of North Florida, Jacksonville. The event is sponsored by the International Resource Center Jacksonville and is a festival where chocolate-lovers of all ages can learn more about chocolate as well as do lots of tasting of chocolate! Pierre will be giving a short talk on the "Wine and Truffles" at the Friday night gala. If you are in the area, please come by to see us! Admission for the show is $8 in advance $10 at the door.

We have been back from France for one month now, and so much has happened. First, on a personal note, our daughter is following in her father's footsteps and is attending culinary school in Chicago. She loves school and she loves Chicago! Of course, it's not January yet, but there's so much to do and so much good food up there!

Summer in Provence

The Wedding:
France was wonderful, as always. The summer started with a wedding in the Beaujolais. This is an area of rolling green hills covered with vineyards and dotted with beautiful châ´¥aux. It's lush and luxurious looking country. If you land in Paris from the US and are headed south, make time for a stop in Lyon and the surrounding areas. The Lyon tourist office has lots of information at
The wedding was classic French style: Beautiful bride, handsome groom, perfect settings, fabulous food and wine, and a party that lasted for three days! The custom there is to be married in a civil ceremony at the town hall (Mairie), which is the legal ceremony, and then have a religious ceremony at the church. For this occasion, the civil ceremony was held Friday evening. In this particular village, which sits high above Lyon, the Mairie offers a "champagne" toast to all the guests afterward. The wine comes from a local vineyard and was excellent. This got everyone in the mood for the lovely party that was held at the bride's parents' house later. We were able to do our part by stopping by Puech St Martin vineyard in Belv麥t, near Uzès on our way up to Lyon, to pick up the rosé wine for the party. The rosé from this vineyard are excellent and so well priced. On this side of the ocean, it's encouraging to see how the selection of rosé has grown in wine shops here. A good fruity, but dry rosé from the Languedoc is a perfect compliment to lamb or roasted chicken. The Reception:
The reception after the church wedding was held at a chateau just north of Lyon. Let's just say that the dinner party broke up around 6:30AM and the bride and groom waved at the priest, who was going to serve early mass, as they passed through the village on their way home! We were close behind.

French Travel Info:
A site that can be very helpful when you need information on this area of France, is .

Châteauneuf du Pape:
Speaking of wines, we did some very serious exploring and tasting of Côtes du Rhône wines this summer. When some good friends came to visit from Florida, we headed over to Châteauneuf du Pape with his Wine Spectator list in hand. Wine is such a part of life in this corner of the world. We all laughed when we had lost the trail of a particular wine and Pierre stopped a police car with two Gendarmes in it to ask directions. It took almost 20 minutes because not only did they discuss how to find our way, but also the attributes and drawbacks of the wine in question! On another occasion, as we returned from the Saturday morning market, we found Pierre at our kitchen table sharing a glass of wine with the mailman. They were in a very serious discussion of the local wines, our mailman having a vineyard of his own not to far away.

In Châteauneuf-du-Pape we also discovered chocolate! Bernard Castelain has a chocolaterie on the Route d'Avignon just outside of Châteauneuf. We had heard of his chocolates before, but had never gone to visit and taste. This is a very sophisticated kitchen and retail shop filled with chocolates. The kitchen was closed for the summer, but the shop is open all year. We tried several of their chocolates and found them to be delicious.

A Trip to Switzerland:
As we usually do, we headed over to Switzerland to see our friends Gerard and Edith Touron, who have the fabulous Restaurant Villa Eugenie in St Gingolph. The restaurant is perched on a cliff overlooking the lake. They have a terrace for summer dining that just can't be beat. Patrons are treated not only to fabulous views, but also to the incrediblely fine cuisine of Chef Touron. It was another unforgettable dining experience chez Gérard! The next day we were invited by friends to go for a picnic lunch on a sailboat on the lake. We left from the picturesque marina in Thonon-les-Bains. It was a beautiful day, and there were lots of people enjoying one of Nature's perfect settings. As for the picnic, this was a far cry from the picnics we used to have when I was growing up in Florida. No fried chicken, bread and butter sandwiches and brownies this time. Now, don't get me wrong, those picnic lunches were great and almost every woman in my family was a good cook! But, this was a picnic done in gourmet style. We had an aperitif, grilled chops, pasta salad, baguette, cheese, fruit, dainty little cakes from the bakery and a bottle of Bordeaux cabernet sauvignon. What a wonderful day!

Our Home in Provence:
As most of you know, we love going to France and being able to stay out in the country in the little village of Masmolène. We've been renting our house for several years by "word-of-mouth". It was suggested that we let you, our Chocolate Diary subscribers know about this. Below is a photo of the courtyard and the sunset picture was taken from the terrace upstairs. If you are interested, send us an email at and we will send you detailed information.

This last photo was taken on the last evening of our stay. The balloonist was just starting out on what had to be a spectacular ride. He lives in our village, and although we have never gone on a balloon ride, it must be a very special way to see a very special part of the world!

Last but Not Least:
Hugh Holborn, our good friend and patient Webmaster, is also an excellent artist. Here is a link to his online gallery .

A bientôt! Pierre and Rainey

May 3, 2001 From the original Chocolate Diaries


In this edition of the Chocolate Diaries we have a few photos of Tallahassee to share with you, as well as some recommendations on where to go when you come this way. We have some good information on Jekyll Island, Georgia as well. As you'll see, there's an awful lot to see and do, no matter where we go!

First, a quick reminder for all that Mother's Day is just around the corner. Sunday, May 13th is only one week away! Everyone knows that Mom's love chocolate, so place your orders now!

*************Special Offer for Chocolate Diaries Subscribers!*************
Free Shipping on all orders placed in the month of May! This is the perfect opportunity to ship those gift chocolates! This offer is only for Chocolate Diaries subscribers, so be sure and mention that you heard about the offer through this mailing. Tell your friends! When they sign up for the Chocolate Diaries, they will be able to take advantage of this offer too.

Since the main focus of this newsletter is chocolate,let's get straight to the "heart of the matter". Chocolate is really good for us. No wonder we crave it. Our bodies are telling us that we need more chocolate! Do you know that Americans eat nearly 12 pounds of chocolate a year....with women indulging more than men. ( Did we even need to say that?)

Chocolate also contains protein, calcium and antioxidants, which may prevent certain chronic diseases, including cancer and atherosclerosis, and may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. The phenols in chocolate are the same heart-protecting substance that is found in red wine. Even though chocolate is high in fat, the fat is stearic acid, which doesn't affect cholesterol levels. Also, don't forget that dark chocolate has the least amount of fat content.

The scientific name -Theobroma cacao - means "food of the gods." This is probably because of all those "feel good" chemicals like phenylethylamine that bring on feelings of euphoria. But, can chocolate mend a broken heart? Perhaps.


Tallahassee has suffered from an identity crisis for so many years. Everytime we are in France and tell someone that we live in Florida, they automatically think Miami. We then say no, we live in Tallahassee, the Capital of Florida. And they always respond with an incredulous look and say that they thought that the Capital of Florida was Miami!

All of that is changing now, partly due to the long drawn out vote counting last November, when media types from all over the world literally camped out in front of the Capital building for weeks waiting to find out who had won the presidential election of 2000.

So now that we are more globally known, we thought it would be interesting to you-our readers-to know that there is much more to this area than dangling chads, politicians and news-reporters.Tallahassee is captivating in the spring. This year the azaleas and dogwood gave a spectacular show for several weeks. Although we are suffering from a serious drought (we're 50 inches below our normal rainfall level!), we had just enough rain in January and February to produce a fabulous display of spring buds and flowers.

Goodwood plantation was built in the 1830's by Hardy and Bryan Croom. The lovely home and grounds were lived in by decendants of the family until a few years ago. The property was given to the state of Florida and the building and gardens are being totally renovated and restored. When the renovations are finished, the home and gardens will be a showpiece for Tallahassee. Tours are available. Goodwood Museum & Gardens is located at 1600 Miccosukee Road. The

Tallahassee Area Chamber of Commerce has a very informative web site , where you can find just about anything you would like to know about the area.

Special for Chocolate Diary subscribers! If you are coming to Tallahassee, we would love to have you come by our Chocolaterie to visit. Just let us know in advance by phone or email, so we can be sure to be here when you arrive. If we are not in town--such as in the summer-Pierre's chocolates are also available at Au Péché Mignon French Pastry Shop, Market Square Shopping Center on Timberlane Road, ph.668-5533, Open Tuesday-Saturday. You'll think you've gone to France when you taste their delicious croissants, cakes and pastries.

This winter, Pierre was asked to provide chocolates for a special memorial service at a plantation nearby. It seems that the owner of the plantation had loved chocolate and so her family gave a lovely memorial service with chocolates and champagne. The setting was spectacular, as were the chocolates. What a loving tribute!

The Florida Panhandle

The Florida Panhandle is not the glitzy, Disneyesque Florida that is shown in travel agency brochures. This is an area of fabulous wildlife and country lifestyle. About forty-five minutes south of Tallahassee, in the small village of St. Marks is Posey's. Posey's serves up some of the best smoked mullet you can find in north Florida. On a Friday, Saturday or Sunday afternoon you can hear some good country music while drinking a beer and eating the mullet or other fresh, local seafood. Posey's sits right on the St. Marks river and if you can get a table by the river looking west at sunset, you can often see graceful dolphins putting on a show that Seaworld or Disney would envy! Some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida are in this area. The town of Apalachicola has a nifty site with information on hotels, restaurants, rentals, fishing, etc.There is even a section on arranging for your wedding in Apalachicola. Don't forget if you do decide to get married there, that you will need to order some of Pierre's truffles for the reception!

Jekyll Island, Georgia

Jekyll Island, Georgia is located about one hour north of Jacksonville, Florida. Originally a winter resort for a few wealthy families from the north, today the island is open to the public. There are several motels and resorts on the island, but the most striking is the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. Located in the historic district, this 4-star resort is a Registered National Historic Landmark.

We suggest going to the pier across from the Jekyll Island Club for an alfresco dinner of fresh steamed shrimp and/or oysters. The wine list is really basic...actually not a list at all, but the beer list is fine, and the seafood so fresh! As you can probably tell, we prefer fresh seafood over fancy surroundings!

OK, so we didn't find much chocolate in Jekyll Island, but we did enjoy the historic district and the natural setting. This would be a great place for a family vacation. There are miles of nature walks, beaches, boating, and horseback riding. You can get more information at www.jekyll or .


Very Important Notice! We will stop shipping chocolates June 18th, and will resume shipping October 1st. In the meantime, we will keep you up to date on what's new in France this summer. We thank you for reading our newsletter and hope you enjoy it. If so, please share with your friends!

Bon Appetit!

Pierre and Rainey

November 28, 2000 From the original Chocolate Diaries

Well, here we are in sleepy little Tallahassee, and it's not so sleepy these days! We don?t remember ever getting this much attention down here before. Perhaps now when we travel, people will realize that Tallahassee is the capital of Florida, not Miami! Anyway, we chuckle sometimes when we see one of our local officials or citizens on TV, knowing that they have had many of Pierre's chocolates before. We can't help but think that they probably could use a box of chocolates to help ease them through the situation! Even more important now, since research shows that chocolate has a high content of phenlethylamine (PEA) a chemical said to mimic the brain chemistry of a person in love!

Another good way to lift spirits is to put our CHOCOLATE WALLPAPER on your computer screen. Just go to Your screen may even begin radiating that wonderful chemical!

Quite honestly, last weekend between the voter re-counts and the FSU-University of Florida football game, we were happy to be quietly working in our chocolate kitchen, getting ready for the holidays!

And, ready we are!!! We have so many beautiful chocolates ready to send as gifts or to order for your own private supply, to help get you through the season. The 28 ounce box is two scrumptious layers, featuring a full selection of Pierre's creations. This is definitely the gift for THE CHOCOLATE LOVER in your life.
Chocolates in the White House
Executive Pastry Chef, Roland Mesnier has been making chocolates and desserts for the residents and guests of the White House since 1976, when he came to work for President and Mrs. Carter. Even though at this moment we don't know who will be living there next year, we believe Chef Mesnier will be there to carry on his tradition of serving beautiful, original and delicious pastries and desserts.

Last February, Chris Sherman, food editor of the St Petersburg Times wrote a very nice article about Pierre and his chocolates. Chef Mesnier's son, who lives in Tampa saw the article and sent a copy to his father. He knew that his father would be interested in learning about another French pastry chef and his accomplishments. And, indeed he was. Chef Mesnier called Pierre to compliment him on the article and find out more about Pierre's chocolates. During the conversation, the two chefs found that they had many things in common, including their rigorous training in France. As we can see, rigorous training, dedicated work and creative talent has paid off for both of them!

Chef Mesnier suggested to us that if we were in Washington, DC, that he would give us a private tour of the White House and the Executive kitchens. We couldn't resist, so we made arrangements to go the end of September. What a great experience this was! We were able to spend time (two hours!), visually taking in the details and asking questions. We came away truly in awe of the national treasure that America has in this beautiful home and building! We suggest that you go to and take the online tour.

Our tour started in the State Dining Room, where we took the above photo of our daughter, Dominique and Chef Mesnier standing under the beautiful portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Chef explained some of the intricate planning that it takes to put together a state dinner. There is much too much to explain here, but let us say that we were totally impressed! Before a dinner, Chef Mesnier does intensive research in order to be able to decide what he will serve. Just look at the white chocolate tigers he made to serve at the dinner for the Prime Minister of India recently. He made seventy tigers, all individually molded, decorated and beautiful!
We saw the Red, Blue, Green and East Rooms. Each one with an interesting detail or story. He explained to us in detail, the extensive planning that goes on before each event. When we saw the kitchen, we began to really appreciate the effort involved. The kitchen is not nearly as big as we expected! The pastry kitchen was even smaller. It was up there that we met Susie Morrison, who is an assistant pastry chef. Susie had baked some cookies and gave us a sampling. They were all delicious! Our favorite? The crispy little ginger cookies with a dot of tart lemon sauce. Yum!

We headed back downstairs (on the staff elevator...we felt so cool!) to the "chocolate room". A recent addition, the chocolate room is the size of a large closet. But, Chef Mesnier is so glad to have it! This gives him a quiet place to work on his chocolate creations. At this point, Pierre and Chef Mesnier lapsed into a lively discussion of chocolate and chocolate making. Two artists talking about their shared passion. It was great!

Dolley Madison would be proud. It is said that Dolley, who was a wonderful cook and hostess, said: "Some people say chocolate is my greatest weakness. I say chocolate is my greatest strength." We agree Dolley.

We then met Chris Comerford, who is an assistant chef in the main kitchen. Chef Mesnier had to excuse himself at this point, and left us in the capable hands of Susie and Chris. They continued our tour, complete with details and more stories in each room.We can't thank Chef Mesnier, Susie, and Chris enough for the hospitality they showed us. We have memories to last a lifetime, as well as a renewed appreciation for the national treasure we have in the White House.

The winter holiday season is here and, for us, the year 2000 has gone by so quickly. We extend our heartfelt appreciation to each of you for your support, your friendship and your encouragement. We send you all "Our Best Wishes and Season's Greetings". If you're traveling, we wish you safe travel. For all of you as well as for us, we hope we have good times, filled with good health, fine food, fun, family, and friends. But, mostly we hope that we all have an open heart that can recognize and be grateful for the bounty that is ours!

Bon Appetit! Pierre and Rainey

Friday, August 14, 2009

September 28, 2000 - From the original Chocolate Diaries

Bonjour you all!

We are back in Florida, and Pierre is busy making chocolates! We officially begin shipping October 1st, and we look forward to hearing from you soon. Also, we're hoping no more hurricanes come our way! The last two did bring us some much needed rain, but it is hard when all the rain arrives at one time!

As always, being in France is an inspiration, so Pierre has created two new recipes. The first one was inspired by the combination of almonds and lemons so often found in pastries in the south of France. It is appropriately called St. Tropez, and is made with marzipan mixed with finely grated lemon rind and lemon juice, then covered with dark chocolate. The combination of sour from the lemon, sweet from the almond, with the bite of dark chocolate, is inspirational!

The second new chocolate, is called Piemontais. Here, Pierre has combined gianduja and praliné with ground caramelized hazelnuts and then coats it with dark or milk chocolate. The crunchiness mixed with the rich creamy texture of the gianduja-praliné…awesome!
Summer goes by so quickly, especially when you're having fun! For us, this was the summer of teenagers. We had five teenage girls with us in France. How exciting it was to see them discover and experience new things. Going to the grocery store was really exciting! They immediately zeroed in on the cookie and chocolate section their natural instincts working like finely honed radar to find the best ones. Impressive! We made sure they saw the Pont du Gard. It is always such a thrill to see this marvelous example of Roman ingenuity and architecture. It is located just west of Avignon, near the town of Remoulins.

Most days we would have lunch together, with lively conversations about travel, their hopes and dreams for the future, and French boys. Their favorite menu for lunch was easy. We would start with cold local melons that we get from our friend Jean-Claude. He has a farm nearby and we stop by often to get some of his delicious melons. He calls them American-Style melons. For me, they look and taste like a smaller version of the sweet cantelopes my parents used to grow in their garden in Florida. Unfortunately, they are a far cry from the cantelopes we find in the supermarkets today. In France, you can now find them along with the Cavaillon melons in the summer months.

The favorite main course for lunch was salad with chevre chaud, or hot goat cheese salad. We use a combination of lettuce, such as Batavia, Red Oak Leaf and Escarole (which adds a little zing to any salad). The vinaigrette is a standard mustard, oil and vinegar combination. (Up to this point, we can duplicate the salad in the States.) In France there is a pre-packaged goat cheese, made expressly for this type of salad. Each package comes with four individual slices of cheese that sauté quickly and easily. Over here, we have found that we can use the log style of goat cheese, sliced and coated lightly with finely ground breadcrumbs. Be careful when you put them in the fry pan however, as they burn and melt so quickly!

Here is Pierre's favorite recipe for vinaigrette.
Mix a tablespoon of good French mustard (such as Maille or Amora) with a tablespoon of red wine vinegar (also good quality) in a bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of oil, one at a time, stirring to mix. The mixture will emulsify into a thick sauce. Taste for balance and add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. The 1-1-3 formula can be doubled, tripled, etc. You can use sunflower oil, olive oil or a combination, but be sure and use the best ingredients you can find?especially the mustard.

Of course, after lunch the cookies and chocolate bars would appear, and occasionally the jar of Nutella would be brought to the table. Nutella, a decadent spread of chocolate and hazelnuts is a staple in every French household with children. Our girls would take the last pieces of baguette from lunch and heap on gooey globs of the luscious chocolate mixture. Pure decadence, plain and simple! Ah youth. Check out Nutella at their website

We want to be sure and mention a website we used this summer. Mme. Riina Ingle has a Paris hotel reservations service at She was a terrific help in making arrangements for the girls at a nice little hotel called Hotel Eiffel Rive Gauche. It was comfortable, clean, well priced and perfectly located near the Eiffel Tower. Also, if you are headed to Paris, you will want to check out Linda Thalman's newsletter at It's very handy, with lots of useful information!

The town of Albi in southwestern France is distinctive because of the enormous cathedral made of brick that towers over the other buildings. It is also the birthplace of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Albi has a website with some great information on the town and area.

This is also the home of the famous French chocolatier, Yves Thuriès We stopped in at the Yves Thuriès boutique, which is located on the square, facing the cathedral. Mme. Jacqueline Thuriès was there to greet us. She is charming and very willing to answer questions. She does not speak English, so if you don't speak French, you will have to rely on your chocolate instincts!

This is a beautiful shop filled to the top with chocolates, all made at a chocolate factory located nearby. The packaging is lovely, making these chocolates a delicious and elegant souvenir.

We drove to Albi by taking the long way through the backroads of the Averyon. This is such a pretty area of France. It is remote, so be sure and take a really good map. At one point, we were truly "in the middle of nowhere", when we came upon this nice lady selling her sheep's milk cheeses. Of course, we had to stop and buy one. During the winter she is under contract to sell all of her milk to the Roquefort cheese factories. In the summer though, she is free to sell her own cheese. It was rich and creamy, with a sharp bite that made it go perfectly with a hearty Côtes du Rhône red wine. What a find!!!
That's what driving in the countryside of France is all about for us. We trust our instincts and intuition in order to find the treasures that are scattered everywhere.That's what driving in the countryside of France is all about for us. We trust our instincts and intuition in order to find the treasures that are scattered everywhere.

Speaking of treasures,.we have some holiday chocolate treasures coming your way! Look for the next Chocolate Diaries for all the details!
A bientôt! Pierre & Rainey

April 21, 2000 - From the original Chocolate Diaries


A quick note about Mothers's Day: Don't forget that 99% of Mothers love chocolate! Sunday, May 14th is only 2 weeks away!

You can place orders now to be sent to arrive just before May 14th.

First we would like to share a really nice story written by Chris Sherman in the St Petersburg Times. The link is: If it takes a couple of minutes to download, be patient! it's a story you are sure to enjoy. We thank Chris for writing such an interesting and accurate story that honors Pierre for his talent and hard work. Also, look at the mouth watering photos by Reggie Grant.

Chris told us about a group called Slow Food. You can find their web site at This is an idea worth reading about.

We were fortunate to be able to make a quick trip to Italy in March. The daughter of some good friends? of ours decided to be married in Amalfi. We thought this was a great idea, and were delighted to be invited!

John Steinbeck wrote: "Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn't quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone." (Harper's Bazaar, May 1953 )
We arrived in Rome and drove to Positano through Sorrento on the coast road. The road twists and winds as it clings to the side of the mountain. We had seen photos, but you must go to see something like this for yourself. We had made reservations at La Fenice Bed & Breakfast. We found it in the Karen Brown Guide to B & B's in Italy. You can also look it up on their website This was a perfect place for us to use as our "home" on the Amalfi Coast. Our hosts, Constantino and Angela Mandara, were charming, and made us feel right at home.
The village of Positano is filled with interesting shops and places to eat. We spent many pleasant hours walking and exploring. We also visited Amalfi and Ravello, and found them to be equally picturesque. The rehearsal dinner was at Cumpa Cosimo (Tel 089 857156) in Ravello, where we feasted on grilled vegetables, followed by seven sorts of heavenly, homemade pasta. Unfortunately, we did not have the stamina to continue eating. Was it jet-lag or the Chianti, or just too much pasta? Whatever the cause, we felt stuffed--and tomorrow was the wedding feast!

The wedding was at the hotel Santa Caterina in Amalfi. This is a stunning property located on the coast just outside of town. We arrived early in order to spend some time discovering Amalfi before heading to the hotel. There were displays of uova di Pasqua (chocolate Easter eggs) everywhere. They range in sizes from 10 grams to 8 kilos (nearly 18 pounds!). Most are made by industrial chocolate makers and of milk chocolate. We found the best chocolate in Italy to be a bar called Novi, made by Elah DuFour. It was 72% cacao with a smooth texture, but not equal to the bars of chocolate we find in France. But, this time chocolate was not our focus. We were in Italy to enjoy pasta, risotto and the vegetables and seafood from the area---and any dish or pastry made with lemon!

Lemon trees grow on terraces all over the mountainsides. It is amazing to see these trees full of lemons---on narrow ledges, clinging to the side of every mountain. When we were there the trees were shrouded in black netting to protect them and the fruit from frost and hail. They remove the netting after Easter each year. The importance of lemons is evident is so many dishes. We had a risotto made with lemon in Capri that was so good that we asked the owner to explain to us just how it was made. He said that it was a simple risotto (can risotto be simple?) made with lemon juice, lemon zest, a little bit of white wine and a walnut sized piece of butter added at the last moment. We knew that this would be a dish worth trying to make at home!
The wedding was wonderful, the bride absolutely beautiful and the wedding feast---well, it was just fabulous! There was risotto with shrimps, scialatielli---a pasta speciality of the area, baked sea bass with lemon sauce, salad, fresh fruit and a beautiful lemon wedding cake and Limoncello---a tart, refreshing lemon liquor made locally, served ice cold. What a wonderful way to start married life!

The next day we drove with our friends to Sorrento to take the hyrofoil boat to the Island of Capri. We took a taxi to Anacapri, and had "Charlie the Singing Taxi Driver". As we climbed the coast road Charlie aka Carlo sang several of his favorite arias from Italian opera. Sometimes a high note required both of his hands to be in the air for emphasis, which made for a very exciting ride! It was also romantic. You definitely want to ask for Charlie's taxi.

In Anacapri, a special place to visit is the Villa San Michele. The present villa, was built beginning in 1906 by a Swedish doctor named Axel Munthe on the ruins of a villa that belonged to the Roman emperor Tiberius. The view from the upper terrace of the villa is picture perfect.
The town of Capri is also charming. We found a pastry called Caprilu that was a delightful mixture of lemon and almond. A dozen came back with us in a zip-lock bag. A small snack to help with re-entry, you know.

One last note on a wonderful little restaurant we found located on the road above Positano, called Donna Rosa Il Ristorante. (Tel/Fax 089 811806). It is a family restaurant, with the mother and one sister in the kitchen and the other sister and father in the dining room. The drive is on a small winding road, but it is so worth the effort! We had a delightful dinner with wine, a seafood pasta, salad and coffee for under $20 each! The atmosphere, service and décor were charming also.
OK. So, we could ramble on forever about the delights of the Amalfi Coast, but we will restrain and close this issue of The Chocolate Diaries. Arrivederci!

We hope you have enjoyed the notes and images and ask you to remember to bookmark this page because it is not accessible to non-members from the site. You can share this page with others by clicking on and sending the following link: . Also, we always enjoy your comments.

January 2000 - From the original Chocolate Diaries


We hope each of you made it into the Y2K with no problems and had as much fun as we did! We were in France with a mix of Americans, British, Canadians and French. We were there to celebrate with friends, family and good food!

This was a communal dinner, a kind of French "pot luck". Actually, there was no luck to it. There was a well thought out plan, and everyone involved is to be congratulated! The evening began with champagne and hors d'oeuvres. The following hours were spent enjoying foie gras, noisettes de veau with sauce aux morilles, (a petit ratatouille and galette de pomme de terre were served with the veal), salad, a fabulous cheese platter, and a fruit salad. The grand finale was Pierre's Bomb Glacé

The kitchen crew worked in perfect unison, as each course was served. Food-lovers love being in a kitchen, and we were all especially happy to be in a kitchen in France, bringing in the new millennium.
The preparation of the 'Bombe' was a labor of love, and as you can see, Pierre had very good help. It was made of chocolate ice cream with a parfait of Grand Marnier with raspberries. There was just enough chocolate mixed with the rich taste of cream, liquor and fruit! We were in Heaven!

In between courses, we were entertained by the singing of French and English Christmas carols and assorted other French songs. We finished the evening with the extra large box of Pierre's chocolates and coffee. As we parted company, we all agreed that this had been a magical way to greet a new millennium!!

In the first issue of the Chocolate Diaries, we showed you some market photos in Uzés. Uzés is a charming town near Avignon. The Midi Libre, a newspaper from Nimes, named the Saturday market in Uzés, the prettiest one in France. We agree, and love going anytime we can! The photo below shows a rare chance to see The Place aux Herbes in Uzés without any activity.

We enjoyed a quiet walk in the town, studying the beautiful architecture and imagining what it was like to live there many years ago. Since the weather was brisk, a stop for coffee and hot chocolate at La Nougatine really hit the spot! This bakery-pastry shop-tea room, opened on Boulevard Gambetta a few years ago. We enjoy going there for a coffee and croissant or pain au chocolat in the morning on Saturday market days. The tearoom is so pretty and comfortable. It's the perfect place to sit and make a list of all the things we want to buy in the market. In the summer, be sure and go early! This market is so popular with the hoards of tourists that come to this area in the summer, that it becomes difficult to park or even move in late July and August.

The French take chocolate seriously. So do we. We were delighted when even at Mr. Bricolage (the hardware store) they had a basket of small chocolates to give to their customers. They were offering chocolat noir 72%, which is the best. Similar baskets with chocolate were in the banks, in restaurants, and even at the France Telecom office! It was perfect: not a gooey lollipop or peppermint in sight!

We hope you are all thinking seriously about Valentine's Day! Pierre and I had our first date on Valentine's Day! Now, a quick 26 years later, we are hoping we can help to inspire and ignite true romance for all those reading this! Of course, the answer is chocolate. Pierre has created a beautiful heart filled with chocolates for the occasion. You can order the heart in milk or dark. Each one is filled with a special assortment of milk and dark chocolates. The 'cupid' is dark chocolate filled with a cognac ganache, the double hearts come in dark chocolate with a raspberry center, and milk chocolate with a praliné center. There are also some dark truffles with a Grand Marnier filling! Ohhhhhh, so good!! If you are serious about romance, and we do hope you are, this heart box is the perfect gift for your Valentine.

All of our chocolate boxes will have special wrapping for Valentines' Day, so any box you choose will be romantic and beautiful.
St. Valentine's Day comes just once per year so don't miss your opportunity to let your Valentine know how special they are!
Thanks for subscribing to The Chocolate Diaries. We are working on a Hot Chocolate Tasting. Our panel of experts will be gathering soon to taste several brands of hot chocolate mix. Stay tuned, because these folks really know their stuff! We hope you enjoy our message, and as always we look forward to your comments.

A bientot! Pierre & Rainey

November 1999 - From the original Chocolate Diaries

Issue Number 2
November 21, 1999
Greetings! Has this year just flown by for any of you? We feel like time has gone by faster this year than ever before. With the holiday season just around the corner, we wanted to be sure and send out a Chocolate Diaries update before this year ends.
We hope all of you have special plans for the holidays and New Year's Eve. We will be in France on December 31st, having dinner with a group of French and American friends. Of course, we will bring the chocolates! We will also make our favorite chocolate cake. The recipe follows.
We are excited to tell you about our Millennium Special - Truffles and Champagne

Two champagne flutes, filled with gold foil wrapped truffles are beautifully tucked in a silk wine bag with gold tassels. Our logo is on each flute and discretely displays the year 2000, for a perfect souvenir. This is a great gift for those prudent souls who wish to greet the new millennium with the two essential food group: Champagne and chocolate! Supply is limited, so order early. $29.95 (1/4 pound chocolate net wt.)

This time of year there are always invitations to parties and dinners. Carole Bloom, in her new book All About Chocolate, says, "Giving boxed chocolate is America's new politically correct gift." We don't know about the political part, but we do know that almost everyone we know loves to get boxed chocolates! Of course, we think one of our boxes makes a perfect gift anytime!

We are introducing the new Two Layer Box of Assorted Chocolates! Two layers of Pierre's fabulous Chocolates (milk+dark, all dark, or all milk), for $55.00! Just think, 28 ounces of heavenly chocolates to give as a special gift, or to keep for a special occasions or maybe lunch on New Year's Day?

Shopping for candy bars takes on an entirely new meaning when in France. The photo above was taken at a LeClerc supermarket near Avignon. LeClerc is a large chain of French supermarkets, where one can find long aisles of pâtes, cheeses, wines, breads, and chocolates! The Europeans take chocolate very seriously. Anytime you look in the pantry or refrigerator in a French home, you will find several bars of chocolate. You can find the dark or noir, which can have up to 72% cacao (This is our personal favorite.), or chose from the huge variety of dark or milk with nuts and flavors. The quality is amazing! We always tuck several bars in our suitcase to bring home. Really, we do have plenty of chocolate already, but having those bars in the refrigerator is so cool!

Here is a recipe for a very rich and satisfying chocolate cake we call simply...
The Chocolate Cake
1 stick (4 oz) plus 3 Tbsp sweet butter
1/3 cup flour
12 oz bittersweet chocolate chopped in pieces
5 eggs separated
3/4 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350F.
Butter a 9" pan and line the bottom with waxed paper.
Melt chocolate, butter & sugar in double boiler until smooth.
Set aside and let cool 10 minutes.
Whisk in egg yolks. Stir in flour.
Beat egg whites until stiff. Stir in 1/3, then fold in remainder.
Spoon batter into pan. Bake 35-40 minutes.
Leave to cool 1 hour before removing from pan.
Serve with Crè­me Anglaise or ice cream.

Crème Anglaise
10 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 quart whole milk, scalded
Put the egg yolks, sugar, salt and vanilla in a heavy bottomed saucepan.
Mix well over medium heat until completely blended.
Gradually add the scalded milk, adding very little at a time until half of the milk has been added, then pour in the remainder in 2 or 3 additions.
Mix well. Set the pot over high heat. Stirring very fast with a wooden spoon, look for the foam to disappear. Remove the pot from the heat as soon as only 2 or 3 big bubbles remain and whisk very fast and very quickly to cool the custard. Immediately strain the custard into a bowl. This makes a gracious plenty! Caution: You must work very quickly and pay attention to what you are doing! Otherwise, it will become lumpy, in which case it is very acceptable to cheat by putting it in the blender to smooth.
Bon Appetit

We thank each of you for subscribing to the Chocolate Diaries. We will be taking notes and pictures in France for the millennium to put in the next edition. We hope you have a bountiful Thanksgiving, a safe and festive holiday season, and a prosperous new year! Meilleurs Voeux pour la nouvelle année. Pierre & Rainey