Chocolate on exhibition

Vuyolwethu Ndongeni

FORMER Port Elizabeth country restaurant and art gallery owners Raymond and Niki Westraadt have returned to the Bay to open a bit of chocolate heaven, The Chocolat Gallery.

They say there is a world-wide “chocolate revolution”.

The Chocolat Gallery will officially open at the beginning of August in Stanley Street, after the couple has returned from their move to Nieu Bethesda. In the meantime, their confectionery is on sale this month at Richmond Hill’s Cupboard Love.

Once the Chocolat Gallery opens, patrons will “enjoy the wonderful, chocolate but also a variety of espresso coffees in the environment of an art gallery featuring contemporary and investment art,” Niki said.

“All our chocolates are made in our Huguenot boutique chocolaterie in Franschoek, the country’s gourmet capital,” she said.

The Port Elizabeth gallery will not only import its untempered chocolate from Belgium, but also their chocolatiers and BEE partners at Huguenot, Danver Windvogel and Denver Adonis are Belgian-trained.

“We import the finest Belgian chocolate for our products. Belgium is generally accepted as making the best chocolate. They source the best cocoa beans from all over the world”.

The chocolate, which is imported in 5kg blocks, is then melted with tempering machine at their boutique chocolaterie in Franschhoek to get a smooth texture and give the chocolate a shiny appearance.

The Westraadts pride themselves on using the finest quality chocolate which make their products unique.

“All over the world. there is a chocolate revolution taking place. There is a switch from commercial chocolate to fine ‘real’ chocolate which consists of cocoa butter, cocoa mass and sugar, and not commercial vegetable fats,” she said.

The Chocolat Gallery will serve the three different kinds of chocolate – dark, milk and white.

“Each lends itself to a different kind of filling. For example, dark chocolate is great with orange and caramel and milk with vanilla and strawberry. Some like mocha are great with both. For those that like chocolate ‘as is’ there are slabs of milk and dark.”

Chocolate lovers can also brave the winter cold with warm servings of hot chocolate with the Westraadts’ version of hot chocolate – melted sticks of real chocolate in a cup of hot milk.

“Or enjoy our hot chocolate Espresso shot which will be available at our premises in Stanley Street. We will also be catering for the demand for Belgian truffle wedding cakes, in shapes and sizes of choice.”

Port Elizabeth is growing into “an international city”, and as such visitors and locals “have grown to appreciate the good things in life – like real chocolate”, she said.

This trend has influenced their move back to the city. The Chocolat Gallery carries the same name as the 2000 film Chocolat, directed by Lasse Hoallstrom, which tells the story of a young mother who arrives in a French village with her daughter, and opens a small chocolaterie, which quickly begins to change the lives of the villagers.

It seems the Westraadts might bring a real life, local twist to this very French tale.

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