Chocolate: Miel Bonbons
Honestly, I love my job. Follow your passions, that’s what I say. If they are chocolate and writing, you may one day find yourself doing research–Research, with a capital R, that you can TAX DEDUCT–with the finest chocolate and pastry makers in the world. And you will come home thinking, Yes, wow, I just had another amazing, awesome day. And it tasted incredible, too.
Yes, there is a little bit of me in Ellie Layne, who is just so thrilled to pieces to meet top chocolatiers and hero-worship them.
I want to try to do some semi-regular posts on some of the behind-the-scenes research for this upcoming series, so today, since I’ve offered a box of Miel Bonbons chocolate along with KISS THE BRIDE as a giveaway over at Barbara Vey’s Beyond Her Book blog, I wanted to share a little bit about this shop, which I discovered only a few weeks ago.
These details grabbed me immediately, when I first heard about it: local chocolatier, trained at the Ferrandi in Paris (I have a character who just trained there! research!! let’s go!).
And so, for an afternoon in an utterly charming jewel-box of a shop, I picked chef Bonnie Lau’s brain about her experiences training at the Ferrandi and Le Nôtre, and asked question after question about opening a little shop in a little town in North Carolina (hmm….more book ideas here), and she fed me things like this:
And I explored flavors like this:
And she talked about things like the expression on a chef’s face when he first tastes something that is wonderful, like fireworks or as if he’s listening to opera. She talked about her apprentice who sings to the chocolate, who talks to the chocolate, as he works. “We’ve saved so many marriages here. I’m so proud of how our chocolate has impacted the world.” She talked about the 12-14 hour days, every day, without a break for months, and the labor of love that anything culinary is, the way you work, travel, study, make a mistake and learn from it. Of staying up all night, the night before Valentine’s, making truffles, because she had sold out February 13, and of running down to all the shops around her, when the first big orders started coming in, calling all her friends, begging for help from people who became her “sugar angels”.
I just love this kind of thing–the passion and the sweetness, the belief and the labor of love. Every time I go for a new interview, to verify some detail in a book I am writing, I have a new book, sometimes three new books I want to write.
This is what I say about Miel Bonbons in a guide to chocolate that’s included in the back of THE CHOCOLATE THIEF:
“There is something delightfully charming and comforting about these chocolates, for all their exotic flavors of mango mint and coconut curry, as if exoticism and quality have been synthesized in a chocolate you can cozy up at home with. They are larger in size than the thumbnail chocolates so popular among Parisian chocolatiers, so you can savor over two or three bites, not afraid they will disappear in your mouth before you have quite finished enjoying the flavor. Rich, dark ganaches pair with whimsical and sophisticated flavors, giving the whole jewel-box of a shop the the appeal of finding the treasure box in Jeunet’s Amélie. And amid all the ganaches, don’t miss Bonnie Lau’s dense, intense salted butter caramel chocolates. Every chocolatier gives her chocolate the stamp of her personality, and Bonnie Lau’s are fanciful, warm, adventurous, and reassuring.”
For more photos of the shop and its gustatory jewels, please see this Pinterest board I created with some of my shots, with all my humble apologies for my inability to take a photo that does justice. I feel that way often about what I write about people like this, too! That it’s impossible to do justice to how amazing they are.