Monday, June 1, 2009

Hmmm. . .De French Make De-lish Chocolates

A friend of mine sent me a care package for entertainment and nourishment purposes during my sojourn here at the home for new hips.

Along with a lifetime supply of Burt's Bees body butter, a handmade sterling silver bracelet, and some eucalyptus flavored lip balm, she included a box of rare and unusual French chocolates from Bozeman, Montana. Rare, because when was the last time you used Bozeman, Montana and anything French in the same sentence? Unusual, because I couldn't help wondering if the flavors might include cow chip caramel or mocha hay bale.

How a young couple [French and American], who share a mutual passion for chocolate, found themselves making gourmet candies in the shadow of eleven mountain ranges, just up the road a piece from Yellowstone Park, beats me. But they've set up shop on Main Street, literally, and the folks are stopping by.

Naturally, being French, the box of chocolates came with instructions for use. Monsieur et madame talk about their chocolate like it was wine -- "Try to identify and describe [the] aroma in your own words. Floral? Tobacco? Spicy? Piquant? Fruity?"


Like most folks from France, when it comes to food, they just assume, correctly, that we Americans don't know anything, so they always feel free to order us around. "Consume within a month from purchase. . .Allow the chocolates to come to room temperature before removing them from the container."

Usually if I get a box of chocolates I'll just eat them up. That's what they're there for, no? This time, being thoroughly intimidated, I didn't just mindlessly pop piece after piece into my mouth. Frankly I was afraid to. The French can do that to you. Not wanting to insult anyone, I sure wasn't going to poke the bottom to see what flavor was inside. Have I mentioned that these were authentic French chocolates? Made by people who speak French, and who, for some reason, chose to live in Montana instead of opening up their fancy pants place in New York, like anyone else from France would ordinarily do.

Before I dared to have a piece, I first read about it, since each of these masterpieces has its own little story. Then I inhaled its aroma per the instructions. "Tune out everything around you but the dizzying aroma of the chocolate."

Finally I carefully put a piece in my mouth and let it slowly "linger on [my] tongue." These were not the raspberry creams of my youth. Soon I was sucking on flavors like Provencal Lavender and trying to discern the intricacies of a milk chocolate infusion blended with the scent of flowers. Then savor the delightful blend of Raspberry Thyme wrapped in chocolate ganache.

La Chatelaine Chocolate Company [] has forty different kinds of chocolate candy pieces. Some don't seem all that unusual -- the Praline, for instance, is made from hazelnut paste and milk chocolate. The Caramel Brule is dark chocolate blended with burnt caramel. But then we get into Geranium, a sophisticated blend of bourbon and geranium oil, with orange flower water and dark chocolate. And then there are the flavors which ordinarily wouldn't make any sense mixed with chocolate -- Olive Oil and Almond or Green Tea. Not to mention Black Peppercorn and one they call Gulf of Mexico -- a blend of milk chocolate ganache with sea salt. Somehow the odd combination of flavors doesn't seem so unusual once you get over your natural revulsion to combining the savory with the sweet. A la hot chocolate and gravy.

How do I know this? Easy. All the candy is gone.


Melissa said...

My jaw dropped when you said that you were intimidted! I didn't think the thing existed that could intimidate Mrs. L!!!!

You've got me wanting a box of those chocolates. Who knew chocolate could be so interesting?

Remo said...

No Brokeback chocolate?

Donna said...

My guitar was made in Bozeman, Montana.

That has nothing to do with chocolate, but hey. I'm random like that.

Monae said...

Hello. I came upon your blog and I had to comment. I am a huge huge huge huge huge huge huge fan of chocolate. Chocolate is my favorite candy to eat and I am glad you wrote this entry. Thanks for sharing this.