Not Alone

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Sculpture by Lele Galer

This fall, I found a painful lump in my breast. I always heard pain was a good sign but I am not a doctor, so I’ve essentially been freaking out for a few weeks. It’s been hard to stay focused and staying off-Google, but I eventually scheduled a mammogram yesterday to get some piece of mind. I was dreading having to go to the exam on my own but through a twist of fate, I did not.

At the 2016 DC Chocolate Festival, a volunteer named Barb heard about me and we’ve been in touch ever since. She’s been very supportive of my endeavors and I feel like we’ve known each other for years. Yesterday, she drove one hour from Maryland to meet me at Philter Coffee so she could purchase two Map Chocolate bars I brought back from the Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle. When I excused myself because for the mammogram, she offered to come with me because “you shouldn’t go through this alone.” You bet I accepted. Barb waited for me for 2 1/2 hours in the waiting room and, after the reassuring news came, we went back to Philter to chat and relax.

Success means different things for different people. To me, it’s always been about friendships and relationships. A number of likes on a photo or likers on a page, even the number of zeros on a bank account suddenly mean nothing if you have to go through difficult things alone. Thank you, Barb, for being there for me yesterday.

Fall 2017 Chocolate Tastings

I was sipping my cappuccino at Philter Coffee this fall one day when a lady named Chelsea asked me about my next chocolate event. Although I had none planned then, I promised her to organize one. After I emptied my cup, I headed straight to the library, where it took all of 30 seconds to book a chocolate tasting workshop with Alex. Gosh, I wish all my meetings were that productive.

I now look forward to meeting Chelsea and her friends at the Kennett Library this Saturday, November 18, 2017. I have a couple more events planned this year to satisfy your chocolate cravings, including a Map Chocolate pop-up sale that same Saturday and a tasting at Grace Winery next month. Here are all the details, I hope to see you at one or all of these events!

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Join me at the Kennett Library this Saturday, November 18 for a FREE chocolate tasting workshop at 2 PM. Spoiler: you’ll touch a cacao pod and taste camel milk chocolate from Dunai. Space is limited so make sure to register here. The event was completely booked last time so don’t wait to save your spot!

Kennett Library
216 East State Street
Kennett Square, PA 19348

Chadds Ford

On Saturday, November 18, I will have Map Chocolate bars for sale at the inaugural Potts Meadow Tree Lighting event, presented by the Chadds Ford Barn Shops and the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art. I’ll be there with several cool artists (Katee Boyle! Bri from Arden + James!). The event will run from 4:30-8:30 PM, you’ll find all the details here.

The history of the Barn Shops goes back 50 years, when some historic buildings (old general store, gas station, etc.) in Chadds Ford, PA, were moved to their current location for preservation purposes. My friend Bri and her father have been fixing up the shops all year and they’re proud to share them with the local community.

Please note you MUST park at the Brandywine Museum down the road and take a shuttle to the event. For safety reasons, including Route 1 traffic backup and children wandering around, you can’t park at the Barn Shops.

Chadds Ford Barn Shops
1609 Baltimore Pike
Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania 19317

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I love with the quiet, romantic setting of Grace Winery in Glen Mills – Prince Albert of Monaco was recently there! – so I am thrilled to host a two-hour chocolate education and tasting workshop on Friday, December 15 at 6 PM – 8 PM. Tickets are $50 and include your first glass of wine. If you’d like to learn more about your favorite food, hold a cacao pod, eat a cacao bean, and taste several chocolates, secure a spot now on EventBrite.

Grace Winery
50 Sweetwater Road
Glen Mills, PA 19342

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Chocolate Tasting Guides

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I used to be one of those people. You know, too cool for chocolate sniffs and tasting notes, harvest years and terroirs. Heaven forbid someone called me a food snob. But if the 37 Chocolates challenge taught me anything, it’s that slowing down matters. Paying attention definitely matters. Taking notes also matters. Referring to a floral note does not make you a food snob, it makes you someone who cares.

Think about it: if you spent a first date scrolling down your Instagram feed, would you know if that person across the table is right for you? The same goes for chocolate: the more present you are with it, the better you’ll get to know it, and the better you’ll determine if it’s right for you. And just like we sometimes need a friend’s nudge to see some signs, we can use a helping hand to catch some subtle notes. So head out to my latest post on the Bar & Cocoa blog (formerly Choco Rush) to discover three of my favorite tasting guides.

Three Chocolate Podcasts You Should Listen To Now + My Favorite Local Food Podcast

You know what I like the best about being part of a new movement? Watching so many projects come to life. As the American craft chocolate scene has been booming over the past couple of years, I’ve been thrilled to witness the creation of several chocolate podcasts to help us all make sense of that world. These shows have informed, entertained, moved, and inspired me and I hope that they will do the same to you too. Happy listening!

Well Tempered, by Lauren Heineck

img_2180Hosted by Lauren Heineck of WKND Chocolate, Well Tempered is a podcast about the “smart and crafty women of the chocolate industry.” Each episode features an intimate conversation with an inspiring woman. Guests range from bloggers and brand strategists to makers and educators (I was the guest of Episode 2!).

This podcast’s for you if you have In The Company of Women* on your bedside table and could use some female inspiration to get to your next chapter. Lauren is a gifted listener and each episode makes me take action, whether that’s contributing to a crowdfunding campaign or book a visit to a chocolate factory. In short, I am a fan.

The Slow Melt, a Podcast about Chocolate, by Simran Sethi

IMG_6660Written by the author of Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love*, this podcast’s mission to educate listeners about the complexity and sometimes harsh realities of the chocolate world. After a first season focused on the basics of chocolate (from the origins of chocolate to how to savor chocolate), the new season is dedicated to chocolate-makers. 

This podcast is best for anyone who already cares about the issues of sustainability and biodiversity in food and would like to expand their knowledge to the lesser-known world of cacao and chocolate. The episodes are short (30 minutes) and professionally edited. If you only listen to one episode, may it be this interview of Shawn Askinosie, founder of Askinosie Chocolate. A pioneer of the American craft chocolate movement, Askinosie left a job as a criminal defense attorney to become a chocolate-maker. You’ll relate with his struggle to transition careers and finding work that matters.

Unwrapped, a Conversation about Chocolate, by Sunita de Toureil and Brian Beyke

UnwrappedWhen two friends who “love to talk about chocolate” want to share their passion, guess what they do? They record their weekly chats and make them available to everyone (yay!). Hosted by Sunita de Toureil, founder of The Chocolate Garage in Palo Alto, California, and Brian Beyke, co-host of the I Brew My Own Coffee podcast, the show covers a variety of topics, from consumer expectations to subscription box business models, all while keeping it very real. The podcast stands out by it very laid-back tone (Brian will occasionally eat a bar during a recording!), making it the perfect road trip companion.

Unwrapped will appeal to chocolate-lovers who already have a good knowledge of the US craft chocolate movement. If you’ve already heard of Areté Fine Chocolate, Stephen DeVries, or Patric Chocolate, then this podcast’s for you.

Local Mouthful, by Joy Manning and Marisa McClellan

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Finally, I have to give a shout-out to Local Mouthful, a show about “living the food life in Philadelphia and beyond.” Each of the 30-minute weekly show has been helping me go through the Wednesday lunchbox packing duty for well over a year (will I find two snacks by 8:30 AM? Does dark chocolate count as one?). Listening to two food lovers dish about foods of all kinds is a good reminder that there’s a whole other world outside of cacao and chocolate. Local Mouthful keeps me up-to-date with food news, helps me discover new cookbooks,  and even inspires me to make pierogis from scratch.  Now, if Joy and Marisa would devote a whole show to chocolate, that would make my Wednesdays extra sweet.

* Affiliate links.

Interview with William Marx, Founder, Wm. Chocolate

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Owner William Marx winnowing cacao beans. Photo credit: Wm.  Chocolate

Chocolate conferences are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. Last month, I had the pleasure to meet William (Will) Marx, founder of Wm. Chocolate at the Fine Chocolate Industry Association New York City conference. He came across as hardworking and humble, and I could not wait to try his chocolate.

A week later, on the other side of the country, Pashmina of  the Choco Rush subscription box told me how fantastic his Belize bar was. We thought it would be great to interview Will for the company’s blog. Well, the interview is now up and I think you’ll appreciate his views on the use of unrefined sugar. You can find the interview here.

Now, tell me, have you had his chocolate? What are your thoughts on using unrefined sugars?

The Taste of Joy

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So long, France, thank you to everyone who met, fed, hugged, and inspired me. This trip was the very first I took back to my homeland as a chocolate-lover and it was neat (and, in some way, comforting) to understand how a French upbringing influenced the way I talk about chocolate.

I have often said Madagascar chocolate tastes like joy because of its citrus notes. Many have smiled at the description or look at me like I have three heads but in France, I always heard wine tasting notes tied to a specific setting (a picnic, for instance) and even an emotion. Although wine was not part of my culinary background, the approach forever affected the way I talk about food. This less literal way of describing food is what I want to see represented in the chocolate world and the reason I decided to stay in that space.

So it was good to be back where I grew up and I smiled when I read the story behind Christian Dior’s latest perfume, J’adore Joy. In his write-up, master perfumer Christophe Demachy explains how the sweet-salty combination of the fragrance literally smells like joy. He goes on to explain the ylang-ylang used in Joy comes from… Madagascar.

Chocolate Shops & Independent Coffee Shops in Paris

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Guess what: I’m going to Paris in May! Plane tickets to France are at an-all time low so I finally booked that long overdue trip to my homeland. This will be my first trip to Paris as a chocolate-lover and I am excited to see the city through the lens of chocolate. As I was imagining myself hopping from one shop to another, I started compiling a list of chocolate shops in a notebook, but notebooks get lost and stained, so I thought why not compile them all on my blog instead? As an added bonus, it may help some of you plan your own visit. So there you have it, a list of chocolate shops to check out in Paris: some are bean-to-bar storefronts, others chocolatier shops, but all have been recommended by a friend or fellow chocophile.

I made sure to add the name of the closest subway station as well as opening hours. And because coffee is a chocolate’s best friend, I have added a list of independent coffee shops in Paris, too. I hope you’ll find the lists handy and please feel free to list your favorite Parisian chocolate (and coffee) shops in Paris in the comments.

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Photo credit: Le Chocolat des Français

Chocolate Shops

A l’Etoile d’Or
30 rue Pierre Fontaine
75009 Paris
Open Monday, 2 – 8 PM
Tuesday – Saturday, 10:30 am – 8:00 pm

According to David Lebovitz, this is “best candy shop in Paris.” It is also the only place outside of the original shop in Lyon that sells Bernachon chocolate.”

Ara Chocolat 
54 Rue de Dunkerque
75009 Paris
Open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday: noon – 8 PM.
Tuesday: 4:30 – 8 PM.
Closed on Sundays

Atelier C
123 Avenue Daumesnil
75012 Paris
Metro Gare de Lyon, Reuilly-Diderot, or Montgallet.
Open Tuesday to Sunday, noon – 8 PM

Atelier C hosts 2-hour bean-to-bar workshops one Sunday per month. You can contact them on Instagram for a schedule of their classes.

Chocolatitudes 
57 rue Daguerre
75014 Paris
Metro Denfert-Rochereau, lines 4 and 6
Open Wednesday, Friday, Saturday: noon – 7 PM; Thursday: noon – 8 PM; and Sunday: noon – 2 PM, 4 – 7 PM

Laurence Alemanno, owner and founder of the company, is also the author of several books in French about cacao and chocolate, which you can discover here.

Chocolaterie Cyril Lignac
25 rue Chanzy
75011 Paris
Metro Charonne on line 9 and Faidherbe-Chaligny on line 8
Open everyday, 8 AM – 8 PM.

Cyril Lignac is an acclaimed pastry chef and the host of Le Meilleur Pâtissier, the French equivalent to the Great British Bake-Off. His latest venture is a boutique entirely devoted to chocolate. I have seen chocolate bars in gorgeous, colorful wrappers, pralines, and bonbons.

Comptoir du Cacao

192 av de Versailles
75016 Paris
Open Tuesday through Saturday 10:30 AM to 7PM
Sunday 10:30AM to 1PM

118 rue Ordener
75018 Paris
Open Tuesday through Saturday 10:30AM to 7PM
Monday 2 PM to 7PM

The chocolate factory is located outside of Paris in Bazoches sur le Betz. You can check out directions to the facility here.

Jacques Genin

Turenne Shop:
133 rue de Turenne
75003 Paris
Métro : République, Filles du Calvaire, Temple
OpenTuesday – Sunday, 11 AM – 7 PM (7:30 PM on Saturdays)
There is room to sit and enjoy your chocolate at this location.
Varenne Shop:
27 rue de Varenne
75007 Paris
Métro : Rue du Bac, Sèvres Babylone, Varenne
Open Tuesday – Saturday, 10:30 AM – 7 PM
I only knew Jacques Genin by name until I read Franckie Alarcon’s graphic novel Les secrets du chocolate. The graphic novelist followed the chocolatier for a year and wrote about his experience in the book. Genin comes across as a generous, passionate, and approachable, which made me eager to check out his shop.

Kosak 
106 rue Caulaincourt
75018 Paris
Metro Lamarck-Caulaincourt
Open Tuesday – Sunday, 11 AM – 11 PM

Kosak is an ice cream shop located in Montmartre that also specializes in bean-to-bar chocolate. The shop carries a lot of the brands I tried during the “37 Chocolates” challenge, such as Dick Taylor. From my interactions on Instagram, the owners of the shop seem super friendly.

Le Chocolat des Français

The chocolate is available in many locations across the country. Find a list of retailers here.

La Manufacture de Chocolat Alain Ducasse
40 rue de la Roquette
75011 Paris
Metro Bastille, lines 1, 5, 8
Open Tuesday – Saturday, 10:30 AM – 7:00 PM

Chef Alain Ducasse opened his bean-to-bar operations in Paris a few years ago. I was not too crazy about his Colombia bar but French writer Martin Page swears by the unconched chocolate, so I plan on giving a try.

Pierre Marcolini
235, Rue Saint-Honoré
75001 Paris
Open Monday to Saturday 10:30 AM – 7:30 PM

89, Rue de Seine
75006 Paris
Open Monday to Sunday, 10:30 AM – 9 PM

3, Rue Scribe
75009 Paris
Open Monday to Friday, 10:30 AM – 7 PM
Saturday, 10:30 AM – 7:30 PM

Yes, Pierre Marcolini is from Belgium but for those of us who cannot take the trip to Brussels, we can always head to one of his Paris shops. A pioneer of the bean-to-bar movement, Marcolini is also the author of an imposing book about chocolate, which my friend Penny recently reviewed.

Pralus
35 rue Rambuteau
75004 Paris
Metro Jacques Bonsergent, line 5
Open Monday to Saturday, 10 AM – 8 PM; Sunday, 10 AM – 7 PM

Coffee and Cream

Independent Coffee Shops

Café Lomi
3 rue Marcadet
75018 Paris
Open everyday, 10 AM – 7 PM

Coutume
47 rue de Babylone
75007 Paris
Open: Monday – Friday : 8 AM – 6 PM
Saturday –  Sunday: 9 AM – 6 PM

Fondation
16 rue Dupetit Thouars
75003 Paris
Metro: Temple (line 3)
Open 8 AM – 6 PM on weekdays, 8 AM – 6 PM on weekends.

Hexagone Cafe
121 rue du Chateau
75014 Paris
Metro: Line 13 Pernety or 13 Gaîté; line 6 Edgar Quinet
Open 8 AM – 6 PM on weekdays; 10 AM – 6 PM on weekends.

Hollybelly
19 rue Lucien Sampaix
75010 Paris
Metro Jacques Bonsergent, line 5
Open 9 AM – 5 PM on weekdays, 10 AM – 5 PM on weekends.

Ob-La-Di
54 rue de Saintonge
75003 Paris
Metro Temple, Line 3
Open Monday-Saturday, 8 AM-6 PM; Sunday 9 AM-6 PM

Ten Belles
10 rue de la Grange aux Belles
75010 Paris
Metro Gare de l’Est (lines 4, 5, 7); Jacques Bonsergent (line 5); Goncourt (line 11); Colonel Fabien (line 2)
Open 8 AM – 5 PM on week days, 9 AM – 6 PM on weekends.

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