Chocolate & Chestnuts

WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY: AM

When preparing to visit a place or a country, apart from the usual hours of research there really is nothing quite like reading a book based in the country you are planning to visit to get you really and truly excited about your up coming trip. In preparation for our French Issue, I chose Chocolat by Joanne Harris, yes admittedly I am a little late to this particular party, after all the film - directed by Lasse Hallström starring Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench and Johnny Depp - came out some 17 years ago, but nevertheless I feel that the book does still hold up even today and with each page I read, our trip could not start sooner.

Whilst turning the pages to delve deeper into the lives of Vianne and Anouk and their arrival in the village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, reading about the florentines, mendiants, truffles, pain au chocolat and chocolat chaud I realised that our final article just had to be about chocolate and with both Lyon and Beaune having more than their fair share of heavenly, sweet chocolate delights, such as Passion Millot in Beaune and Bonnat & Crozet - who describe themselves as a Chocolatier and Liquoriste since 1884 - chocolate it seems was the right choice.

The markets were filled with this seasons chestnuts and at this time of year with the slight chill in the air, is there any better combination than the holy trinity of chocolate, chestnuts and calvados? I think not. Chestnuts symbolise autumn and harvest for us. Bundling up against the winds to hunt for these prickly delights, stamping on them to reveal the chocolate brown nut inside, passers by wondering what we are doing, then rushing home to roast them, burning our fingers on the still warm shells, savouring their nuttiness, turning what is left into a cake of some description. Be it a calvados brownie, using the chestnuts instead of flour, or a chocolate chestnut semifreddo, or perhaps a chestnut purée with whipped cream and melted chocolate, or even a chocolate, chestnut and calvados sorbet - the choices are endless.

We hope our French Issue has and will be an inspiration to you in your daily life - with nourishing gatherings, happiness, family and celebrating the art of living - seasonal and artisanal.

October 2017