David Downie: Part 1 of his take on Salon du Chocolat in Paris

By Monday, October 24, 2011 Permalink 0
by David Downie

Choc Around the Clock in Paris at the Salon du Chocolat

 

The annual chocolate feast, fete and orgy known here in Paris as the Salon du Chocolat takes over the city this year from October 20 to 24. If you’re not in Paris already, get here fast. There might not be any chocolate left if you arrive on the last day.

It has been remarked (by yours truly) that if you toss out a euro these days it will probably land on a Paris chocolate shop or pâtisserie with a celebrated chef bent on titillating his customers’ taste buds while dazzling their eyes and lightening their wallets.

No other city, not even Brussels, has as much fine chocolate as Paris. Paris is the chocolate capital of the world.

While the Swiss and Belgians weren’t looking, Paris stole their milk cows and became the swaggering global capital of chic chocolate.

All challengers to this claim please take one of our chocolate tours and then decide whether to proceed with the duel.

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Belgium: Cha Hû-Thé Teahouse, Brussels

By Wednesday, March 2, 2011 Permalink 0

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by Jonell Galloway

I am not just a tea connoisseur. I am an outright snob and have spent many days of my life in search of good tea, in both chic and shabby places.

I have never been to the Cha Hû-Thé teahouse in the suburbs of Brussels, but for one of the few times in my tea-snob life, I don’t have to sniff the tins of tea in order to recommend it. I’ve only tasted (and sniffed) one tea from there, the Thé du Loup, or literally “wolf’s tea,” and it was made neither with designer bottled water nor in a fancy teapot, but its nose and taste were wax heaven. It was in fact made with the overly mineral city water of Chartres, but it was a Cadillac of a tea, a Rolls Royce of fine-tuning, so it stood up to the test of not being treated with the TLC it deserves.

The main address doesn’t sound chic, although the amateur slide show flaunts oak shelving and cabinets adorned with serious-looking tins of tea and an array of brightly colored teapots for true aficionados. It even hints at shabbiness. The website is full of typos — which might normally put me off — but the names, blends and categories clearly demonstrate mastery of the trade. If you live anywhere near there, I recommend you hop on a train or bus or into your car first thing in the morning and delight in this almost certain kingdom of tea blends.

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