It's not often that I go somewhere and get an education. Ever hear the quote about not wanting to meet people whose work you admire for fear their personality doesn't match? I caught the proprietor of Mademoiselle Miel, (Miel being French for honey) a tiny shop in St. Paul known for their honey-infused concoctions, at slow point on a Friday afternoon all to myself and she is really one of the most enjoyable and knowledgeable people I've met. Not only does she make the chocolates, but she is beekeeper to some very urban honeybees. With hives atop buildings in both downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis, she was a wealth of information about everything from bees being responsible to our sources of food to the fact that where a bee forages determines the flavor of the honey. Which is ironic because I had just learned the EXACT same fact about sheep from my buddy Andreas Viestad on New Scandinavian Cooking THAT morning. The definition of kismet. She even let me sample some of the honeys in her personal collection from bees in such places as Brooklyn (smooth as silk) and the top of the Paris Opera House (spicy) which proved that honeys can be about as complex in flavor as wine. Anyway, she made me want to come home and start planting bee-friendly plants. (you can find more info on her website blog) Bees are apparently responsible for pollinating a quarter of the foods we eat. If you hadn't heard in the news, the bee population has dropped due to disease and lack of a healthy environment. I know I am going to bring my son back to see her to educate the young on how we need to treat bees.
Back to her chocolates - using the bare bones, raw cacao, honey, and perhaps a flavor such as orange or juniper, I tasted and left with a combination of the signature honey bon-bons and the highly unusual smoked honey bon-bons with scotch. (the man's chocolate she called it) Definitely a departure from the stereotypical box of sweet milk chocolates. I can't even describe it properly. I just have to suggest you pick some up. Her wares are available not only at her shop, but at places like the Golden Fig in St. Paul, Seward Café, you can view the complete list here.
The only disappointment the entire time is that they were sold out of her honey hot cocoa bombs, which you drop into a cup of hot, steaming milk and stir for a cup of honey-infused hot cocoa. I think she promised more next year after her bees get to work after their winter nap. I can't wait.
Did you guess where the quotation is from? It is from Ludwig Bemelman's 1939 book Madeline.
342 Kellogg Blvd West St. Paul, MN 55102 Open Friday 3-9