I think the server was confused as to why I was copying portions of the menu into my notebook. I understand the menu is available online, but I plan to follow my husband around the house tonight when I get home, reading him the highlights aloud, I explained. I really think he's going to need details. She didn't seem to get it, which made me question why she was working there in the first place. You can't visit a place like Le Chocolat de Bouchard and not want to tell everyone you know all about it. Surely I'm not the first person to try and memorize large portions of the menu so that I can recite it aloud, like poetry, during the trying moments. This is what I wrote in my notebook:
Rich butterscotch ladled into a Belgian hot chocolate blend.
A creamy rich cocoa topped mixed with a European hazelnut spread, topped with whipped cream and hazelnuts.
Handmade caramel is drizzled with hot fudge into a martini glass. We add our classic hot caramel cocoa, top with whipped cream, add more drizzle and crushed pecans.
This is what I found when I abandoned my family a few nights ago and went on a date by myself. A little wandering, a little window shopping, and Bam! I walked into my new favorite place in the whole wide world. Part cafe. Part chocolatier. It's amazing how you can be missing something in your life and not know it until the moment you stumble upon it. As I sat by myself stirring the whipped cream into my homemade caramel cocoa I was overwhelmed with the "coming home" sensation.
Now, I like to escape my house some evenings as much as any other cooped up mommy. Grocery shopping alone can feel as restorative as going to church. And I'm social. I like meeting up with sisters or friends. I like book clubs, any type of clubs really, or just spending an hour trolling the shoe aisle at Target. I like to get outside of my box and remember what is new and fun beyond math facts and diapers. But I can't remember the last time I met Jeremy at the back door and said, Here are your children. There is a chance I might be back later tonight and then squealed the tires as I backed out of the driveway.
There are times when they take too much, the little people.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I opened the door of Le Chocolat de Bouchard. They got it exactly right. Doesn't it help you to once again feel right with the world to spend time with things that were done exactly right? Music, books, movies, or in my case, a hot chocolate store that is everything that it ought to be? The rustic brick walls are inlaid with toffee colored wooden bookshelves, upon which are stacks of truffles wrapped like presents, or apothecary jars filled with chocolate covered nuts and fruit. There are display tables laden with ceramic pretties and every kind of wrapped up chocolate take-home. The chocolatier side of the store boasts rows of hand painted truffles, chocolates, candies, and french pastries, and there are candles glowing on all the cafe tables. Sit down and rest, this place told me. We want you to feel good while you're here.
However the gentle, comforting welcome of Le Chocolat is not to be confused with the Bust out your laptop and spend three hours itching your overgrown facial hair aura of Starbucks. There were no ripe-smelling backpackers molding on tweed arm chairs. No disgruntled students wishing they could inject the caffeine straight into their veins. It was all very restful, this new place of mine, which is exactly what I'm looking for in my life. And it's not a bad end to a hard day to slip back into my house once the children are asleep, presenting Jeremy with key lime truffles. Another day, another round of lunches to make and homework to sign, I thought as I flopped into bed. So much of the grind is the same, but every now and then, it's not.