WHERE THE SWISS BUY THEIR CHOCOLATE
by Vivian Holding
I have found the man of my dreams! He’s charming, passionate, creative and great with his hands – and he smells of CHOCOLATE! Tristan is the owner of Tristan Chocolatier, reputed to be the best specialist chocolate shop in and around Geneva – even featuring as a tour stop for Japanese tourist buses!
My Swiss friend reluctantly revealed the name of her favourite chocolate shop: “It’s a very special place,” is all she says.
Although 40km from Geneva, I decide this is worthy of further investigation.
The shop has only been open for 30 minutes on the morning of our arrival and it’s already buzzing. Happy customers leave with bags full of goodies and big smiles. I’m intrigued. An hour later, I too would be leaving Tristan’s shop in a state of bliss.
After first taking some photographs of the beautifully decorated shop front, I walk straight into chocolate heaven.
Customers browse and sample the amazing collection of chocolate delights before making their choice (there are bowls of samples everywhere!). I’ve sampled pretty much everything in the shop and that’s a lot of chocolate!
My favourite? Tristan’s White Chocolate Bars with Salt (the salt comes from the local salt mines in Bex). A lovely combination of sweet and salty.
MEETING THE MAN
Tristan Carbonatto is in his atelier behind the shop, hand-decorating chocolate eggs for the stunning Easter baskets (see photos). His assistant, meanwhile, is also hard at work, creating chocolate Rocher Easter eggs (a half chocolate moulded egg, coated with a chocolate/almond mix), filled with a selection of chocolates or truffles.
Tristan’s passion for chocolate is contagious (not that I needed any convincing) and is one of the reasons why chocolate-lovers come from far and beyond to get their hands on his special Easter treats.
Demand is equally high around Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mothers’ Day.
Tristan’s first apprenticeship was at the confiseur Boccard in Rolle, followed by stints at Rohr and other big companies, as well as the restaurateur Frédy Girardet in Crissier.
THE PERFECT LOCATION
Wanting to set up his own business, Tristan started his search for the ideal location, before eventually returning to his own village of Bougy-Villars, where he found the perfect shop in the centre of the village. In 2017, Tristan moved his premises to a much larger shop located nearby in Perroy.
His father, mother, sisters, as well as friends helped set up the business back in 1998, when he first started out as a confiserie. Tristan then returned to his first love – chocolate. He now employs 14 staff, including his father Claude-Allain ‘the King of Hazelnuts’, who still helps with deliveries and his big sister Anne-Sophie, who decorates the shop beautifully to tie in with the different seasons. Local ladies are called upon to help with packaging when needed.
THE BEST INGREDIENTS
Tristan is obsessed with sourcing his ingredients and takes the time to research and hunt down only the best worldwide. The impressive list includes Kirsch from his own village; salt from Bex; pistachios from Sicily; Valencian almonds; hazelnuts from Piemont; Tuscan olive oil; confit oranges from Sicily; French Champagne; German marzipan from Lübeck; almonds and pine nuts from Spain; matcha green tea from Japan; rum from Martinique; sesame seeds from Taiwan; Brazil nuts from Bolivia; ginger from Australia; vanilla from the Congo and coconut and cacao from Ghana.
PERSONALISE YOUR CHOCOLATE
Judging from his website, there’s nothing Tristan can’t create with chocolate, from a New York-inspired basket to a white chocolate Taj Mahal, a Japanese-themed garden complete with Pergoda and bridge to a grand piano with white chocolate keyboard.
“The real beauty is the freshness and deliciousness of the chocolate, the large majority of which are made just a few days before being sold. Made with fresh cream and pure cocoa butter without the need for using conservatives, the chocolates should ideally be eaten within 10 days of purchase,” says Tristan.
TRISTAN’S GUIDE TO TASTING CHOCOLATE
How to taste chocolate
Start with the lightest coloured chocolate (white) and then continue onto milk chocolate, finishing with dark chocolate. Chocolate should be tasted at 19/20degrees. Neutralise your palate with some white bread and still water…. and don’t forget to close your eyes!
How do you know if the chocolate is good?
Is the texture smooth or coarse to the touch? Is it glossy and shiny without too many air bubbles? Does it break with a nice clear ‘snap’ sound? Taste is 75% smell – so, breathe in the aroma. Let the chocolate melt in your mouth… and you’ll know!
How to store chocolate
Chocolate should be stored in a cool place, protected from any heat. Never put chocolate in the refrigerator.
How many days should it be stored for?
Chocolate should be stored for up to 10 days after its creation.
What is the percentage of cacao in Tristan’s chocolate?
Tristan’s chocolates are made with pure cocoa butter, using only the best quality cocoa beans.
Is his chocolate gluten free?
All his chocolates are guaranteed gluten free except for the sugar-free chocolate that he sells.
WHERE: Tristan Carbonatto Chocolatier, 1 chemin des Quatre-Vents, CH-1166 Perroy.
EASTER OPENING HOURS:
Saturday 24th March 2018 – 9am-4.30pm, closed Sunday 25th.
Monday 26th-Thursday 29th March 2018 – 10am-midday, 1.30pm-6.30pm.
Good Friday (Friday 30th March 2018) and Saturday 31st March 2018 – 9am-4.30pm.
Closed Easter Sunday until Monday 9th April 2018.
Re-opens Monday 10th April 2018 from 10am.
FURTHER INFO: Click here or telephone: 021 807 2125.