Sunday, August 16, 2009

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

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