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

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