I love chocolate. Alyssa loves chocolate. If you are a visitor of this blog, chances are you love chocolate too.
My recent chocolate journey through France was extraordinary but there was one chocolate encounter that outshone all others. It happened on our second last day in Paris when we, quite by accident, stumbled upon the this charming store front and met Chloe.
I thought this would be “just” another exquisite chocolate shoppe – I had no idea I was about to meet the most passionate, enthusiastic chocoholic of them all. Chloe is not a chocolate maker. She is a chocolate ambassador, a chocolate champion, a chocolate connoisseur.
She very well may have the most coveted job in the world as she has gone from being a chocolate buyer for a prestigious department store in the UK to being one of the most sought-after chocolate experts who consults with chocolatiers on how to perfect their chocolate, speaks all over the world about her passion for chocolate and in her quaint shop in Paris she is a focused chocolate educator. Basically, all day every day she thinks about chocolate, talks about chocolate and tastes chocolate. I wish I’d discovered her earlier in our trip to participate in one of her chocolate classes and join her on a tour of Paris’ very best chocolate.
This is a woman who has a contagious excitement for chocolate that is unparalleled. And she’s generous, oh so generous, with her vast knowledge of her beloved subject. We spent so much time with her where she coached us through a tasting of all of her favourites. Some might call Chloe a chocolate snob – but it would be accused with the greatest of affection.
One of the first things she said was “white chocolate is not real chocolate” and at that moment it was that all I could do to not to kiss her at the recognition of a kindred spirit. She believes that real chocolate lovers enjoy chocolate in a pure bar form – not filled chocolates or truffles. Those are candy chocolate – often amazing candy but not for the purist. She told us she tastes chocolate every morning at 6am while her palette is the cleanest. And she talked at length about where in the world the very best beans worthy of the very best chocolate are found. She shared the chocolate is best paired with tea and never with coffee (something I’ve always loved but thought I was alone on) because the coffee flavour overpowers the chocolate.
Chloe Chocolate puts her name on only one milk and one dark chocolate (the smoothest dark chocolate you can imagine) and she sells them along side the perfect tea pairings. It will ruin you for all other chocolate. I bought so much that we went over the weight limit on our suitcases at the airport.
But she does make one exception and carries a special line of dark chocolate from Bolivia which she helped them develop and perfect. She takes none of the profit from the bars and sends everything back to Bolivia. My favourite was the Fine Dark which may be the most incredible chocolate I have ever put in my mouth. She helped them with a really special coffee infused chocolate – to help those who insist on pairing coffee with this instead.
So it’s glaringly obvious I am smitten with Chloe’s chocolate-centric life and absolutely enjoyed meeting her. It was one of the highlights of the trip for me. I even bought her book. And while it’s not a literary masterpiece and reviews on it are on both ends of the spectrum, what I love about it is her unabashed charming approach that reads exactly like she speaks. Take the very first page of the Acknowledgements for example …
“I want to thank my dear friend chocolate, who has been my best friend (sometimes a she, sometimes a he), my companion for more than 25 years and the source of much of my joy. As with people there are the good and the bad chocolates, the elegant and the vulgar, the honest and the cheats, and the jewels you keep as close to you as possible for the rest of your life. My best friend chocolate is always there for me, supporting me even when things go wrong.”
And there is no question that chocolate is Chloe’s best friend. And I was grateful that she introduced me to that friend and for the brief time I spent with her as she illuminated her vision of a world of artisanal fine chocolate.
If you are ever in Paris you must meet the larger-than-life Chloe Chocolat.