Chocolate Tour

Kaitlyn and I like to watch shows on Food TV that show you how things are made. Today she is jealous because I got to go to a chocolatier and see how chocolate is made. (It doesn’t matter that she doesn’t eat it. She is just that fascinated by how things are made. She’s just like her dad!)

I took part in a tour of Bonnat Chocolate in Voiron, France. It’s the same town where the distillery tour for the Chartreuse liquor is. But I’ve never actually gone into the little town before. It’s really charming and filled with quaint little shops and restaurants. Now I know for the next time I drag someone to the 3-D movie of monks making the green liquor.

Getting there wasn’t that easy. I rode in a car with a woman who’d “insisted” on driving. Turns out, she did so because she doesn’t drive here and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to practice. I wanted to shoot her. She was afraid to drive fast enough to keep up with the people we were following. And by fast enough, I mean the speed limit. She was terrified of roundabouts. Which can be a real problem driving here. Basically, she really pissed me off.

Once there, we went into this wonderful shop filled with all sorts of chocolates and pastries. Bonnat Shop We sat in the tea room where the owner and her daughter talked about the history of the shop, how they use different kinds of beans from around the world, then had us taste a few different ones to see if we could discern the difference. It was all good. And they really did all taste different.

Then we went back into where all the cooking is done. We started in the bakery for the pastries. chocolatebakery.jpg There we saw an oven that’s been there since 1856. chocolateoven.jpg They still use it. We watched them pull some pastries out, in case we needed proof. choclateoven2.jpg

That was followed by the main attraction: the chocolate. We saw the room where they make the insides of the chocolates… that is, if the chocolate is one with a gooey inside. The owner’s son who was giving us the tour speaks very good English. But I still couldn’t quite understand his explanation of how they use some liquor that will kill you if you drink it and it is cold outside, yet it is perfectly safe to be in the candies. chocolatedude.jpg

This is one of only four chocolate makers in France that roasts and grinds its own beans. We couldn’t see the roaster, but we did see the room where the grinding is all done. It smelled amazing. chocolategrinders.jpgAlong the wall were giant bags of chocolate beans; next to the machines were buckets with the de-shelled fragments of the beans waiting to be ground and mixed with sugar and cocoa butter. He invited us to try some. So we did. We just stuck our dirty hands into the bucket of bean shavings destined to be made into high-end, expensive chocolates. The beans like that weren’t too good. Obviously, not sweetened yet. And the texture was like eating a coffee bean. Which is best done when wrapped in chocolate, so it was a strange flavor experience.

When the tour ended, we all flooded the store as if we’d never be able to buy any of this stuff ever again. I think I’ll go back.

One Response to “Chocolate Tour”

  1. D.A.D. says:

    Wow! Wow! Wow! Pictures incorporated right around the text on your blog. Now that’s extremely neat, and so great to see firsthand that of which you speak/write. Congratulations on your new publishing tool, or your figuring out how to do it, or having Bill tell you. In any case, it is soooo great!!!

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