Gourmandises Decadence at the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market
Decadent… have you ever actually looked up the word? I took a spin on the web and Miriam Webster provided me with a little guidance:
dec•a•dent adj. characterized by or appealing to self-indulgence <decadent pleasures>
Now to many the act of self-indulgence, the very act of being decadent, would be thought of as being something special. Something you treat yourself to; a thing to be savored. Now I certainly subscribe to the belief that there are somethings that should be kept for special occasions – that 18 year old scotch we bought 2 years ago that my husband has squirreled away in the liquor cabinet – but I do think we place too many wonderful things in the “decadent” category.
So here is my recommendation: take a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, head down to the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market and spend a few minutes in front of the cases at Gourmandises Avenue Chocolaterie. Trust me – the desire to treat yourself will be overwhelming.
This charming little spot is the amazing work of Jean-Pierre Gallois and Yseult Bertic. They’ve been creating delicious treats and tasty items in Nova Scotia for eight years, and another 20 years prior to that in their native France. Jean-Pierre is from Lyon, while Yseult hails from Brittany.
I had the opportunity to speak with Yseult, and she emphasized their foundation being about finding the highest quality ingredients to make their products. They use fresh, local eggs and every step is a careful investment in time – everything is made from scratch. As we passed her displays, my eyes darted back and forth between beautifully tied bags of truffles, candied nuts, almond and chocolate barks, macarons of all flavours – and the smell of all these little wonders was incredible! It was wonderful to hear her speak about her product. Every single piece in front of me – from the simplest truffle to the most complex basket or chocolate display – were all made with the same attention to detail, the same high quality of ingredient and the same passion!
With Yseult’s gentle suggestions (which I couldn’t have done without), I finally decided on a couple of choice items – a little bag of Acadie Folie (pecans caramelized with Nova Scotia maple syrup); chocolate Florentines flavored with passion fruit, orange and ginger (Florentines are like little waffers of almonds held together with caramel – these ones were also dipped in chocolate); a cute little box of chocolate truffles made with Gaspereau Ortega Icewine and a jar of Cremeux des Salins (trust me, I will come back to this one).
Because I believe in honesty, the entire bag of Florentines was gone before I got to the car. They were the wonderful texture everyone loves in a Florentine, and throw in an extra kick of citrus from the passion fruit and orange and it made it extra-wonderful! The Acadie Folie are wonderfully crunchy pecans with just a little bit of sweetness from the maple syrup. And the texture is a nice dry roasting, so it isn’t a sticky texture at all. My husband took one look at those and promptly tossed them on top of a spinach salad with goat cheese, apple and honeydew melon – wonderful! And keeping with the honesty kick, we sat down and savored the Icewine truffles as our dessert. Since there are 5 in a box, I recommend getting two boxes so each person has an even number – just a heads-up.
And last but not least – the Cremeux des Salins. Yseult put this in my hands and told me to promptly go home and have this on toast. Or pancakes. Or ice cream. The best way to describe this is a thickly textured caramel. It looks and tastes just like a caramel, but it behaves like a buttery spread.
This is where the discussion of being decadent had its start. I had the house to myself Sunday morning and I thought I would treat myself to an extra special breakfast. We had some baguette and half a wheel of brie left over from the night before. I toasted my bread and smoothed some of the buttery caramel over top, plunked down the brie and added a few dried cranberries. I will admit I was pretty proud of myself for pairing such amazing things together that early on a Sunday. As I wandered out in the backyard, it hit me – this feeling of luxury and decadence is something we should be experiencing as often as possible. It shouldn’t be something that we hide away and only take out for special occasions. I felt very self-indulgent munching on brie and caramel that early, but it was nice, it was worth it, and I liked it.
So put on your prettiest, make a trip to Gourmandises Avenue and welcome in the decadence – even on a Sunday!