So, here’s something I bet you don’t know:
Europe’s best kept chocolate secret isn’t found in Switzerland or Belgium. It’s not a high-end boutique or a Hershey-style factory.
No. To find Europe’s most intriguing and tastiest chocolate, you’ll need to head to a tiny cafe in an unassuming town called Bayonne in southern France’s Basque Country (home of not only chocolate, but some fabulous local peppers).
Located about half an hour by train from glitzy, popular Biarritz (a tourist town on the coast), just a short way from the Spanish border, Bayonne is supposedly where chocolate-making first came to France. It came with the jews, fleeing the Spanish Inquisition in Spain and Portugal, across the border.
And so came the chocolate , served as a drink, hand-whipped and frothy…which is how you can still find it served today at the amazing cafe Cazenave (19 Arceaux du Port-Neuf).
During my own winter in Basque Country, I sought out Bayonne’s famous chocolate and Cazenave did not disappoint. The cafe itself doesn’t look like much–a collection of tables and doilies in the back of a chocolate shop–but the chocolate is like nothing I’ve ever tasted before.
The chocolate itself is hot and frothy and tastes somehow more real than the sugary concoctions we’re used to. There’s a slight bitterness to it, but also a sweetness and an almost earthy, grounded flavor.
It’s served with hand-made Chantilly cream–thick and sweet whipped cream–in a little bowl on the side and most people also get theirs with thick slices of toast.
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