30 July, 2008

Heaven in a Strip Mall

For our Tuesday Toodle yesterday we decided to tour the Bernard Callebaut factory. Hubby's cousin was visiting from the Okanagan and had spent most of her money shopping the previous day. What little girls wouldn't want to visit a chocolate factory? What Mama wouldn't?

Bernard Callebaut was a sensory delight. When you walk into the retail store you are overwhelmed with the sheer amount of chocolate selection - bars, dozens of chocolates, cowboy hats, chips, cocoa, and even a giant chocolate inukshuk. But what you really notice is the heavy air conditioning. I was worried it would wake the baby, but I think the scent lulled her to sleep. Oh, the scent. You really don't get the full effect until you go downstairs to the manufacturing facility. I would have been lulled to sheer indulgent relaxation if it weren't for the fascination of the chocolate making process.

We stared through the windows at the staff working on Christmas treats already. There were logs on the moulding rack - this wheeled contraption that turns the moulds as they spin around, in some kind of crazy orbit. There was one woman patiently adding a white chocolate drizzle to a gilberte. For the few moments we turned away from the manufacturing we could read about how the cocoa bean turns into the chocolate we so love.

As fascinating as it was to watch the chocolates being made, we grew impatient to try chocolate. Well, the 11 year old and I grew impatient, the Monster was anxious to ride the "alligator" back upstairs, and the baby slept. Upstairs we bought baking chocolate, tried a few chocolate treats, and shared a sample of luscious white chocolate soft serve. The Monster had a few toddler-sized bites of a dark chocolate fish before Mama took it away to enjoy later.

Now, you would think that a trip to a chocolate factory was good enough. Generally, it would be, but I had heard rumours of a great bakery in the same building. Unfortunately, the Manuel Latruwe is undergoing renovations. We'll have to go back again in a few months.

Fortunately, a French treat recently opened next door. L'Epicerie imports French products and serves deli sandwichs made from duck pate or the tastiest ham (carved off the leg in front of you). They have cheeses, olives, and a market cart of fresh produce. The Monster found the sample table and ate more than her fair share of cornichons and black olives. I bought some Puy lentils and olives to take home. We also decided on a ham sandwich on black olive bread to enjoy at home with chocolate for dessert, of course.

Bernard Callebaut
Manuel Latruwe
L'Epicerie - 403.514.0555

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