Sunday, August 16, 2009

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

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