It’s been a century since Maison Darricau first captured the attention of Bordeaux‘s food lovers, regardless of age. Originally a patisserie and tea house, in 1994 Maison Darricau decided to focus on chocolate. Master chocolatier Michel Garrigue, who took over the business from his parents and grandparents, gives his imagination free reign in order to celebrate the gustatory features of the grand cru chocolates he selects with the utmost care and unfailing passion. It took someone of his particular daring to combine chocolate and basil. He never turns down a challenge, all the while respecting the inherent character of the chocolate.
Some sixty varieties are available, but some of his creations are particularly refined, such as the “pétillant,” a praline that’s full of surprises. The semi-sweet chocolates in their glass jars play on a variety of flavors with dried fruits, each one more delicious than the next. I must admit I can rarely resist these temptations right at my fingertips. The sushi tray is a little nod to Japan. Not only do these chocolates look like real sushi rolls, but their taste also calls to mind the flavors of Asia: a praline with peanuts and wasabi, a green tea or sake and rose ganache, as well as ginger marzipan.
Lastly, and inevitably, with his home region in mind, Darricau has devised the “grain de sable,” a sea salt praline rolled in crushed hazelnuts (it’s my favorite, truly addictive), the “pavé de Bordeaux,” a praline with grapes macerated in wine then rolled in cinnamon and sugar, and the “confit de vin,” a ganache simmered at length with Graves Bordeaux wine. A perfect gift, perhaps to yourself, is the “Weekend Box”, which includes in its wooden packaging three bottles of Bordeaux wine, four grands crus chocolates, a box of “pavés de Bordeaux” and a container of “confit de vin”.
Everything is made on site, which explains the delicious smell that permeates the air. To try these exceptional chocolates, you must go to the boutique in Bordeaux, as it’s the only place they are available. Harking back to the traditions of the old Darricau tea house, Michel Garrigue has recently brought back the “Basque Beret”, one of the cakes –with plenty of chocolate, of course – that made the establishment famous. This creation has plenty of local color, since the French Basque Country, where the hat is still worn, isn’t far from Bordeaux, and it’s through the port at Bayonne that chocolate first came to France.