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La Rachel’s Sweet Sensations

La Rachel’s Sweet Sensations
A new boutique chocolate shop is a sexy addition to the vibey Kleinmond Harbour strip…

Words: Fiona McIntosh

Pictures:  Shaen Adey

“Kom, kom” sounds a voice from the other side the street. I wander across to where a man is standing outside an optometrist’s shop. He speaks not a word of English, I not a word of German. But he’s clearly spotted my camera and wants to show me something.

Gently taking my arm he guides me into the shop where, incongruously, I find a vibrant young woman dipping strawberries and marshmallows into a vat of molten chocolate. Having had a chocolate shop in Kleinmond’s 2nd Street for four months Rachel Brown has decided to spread her wings.

“I only opened yesterday so haven’t had time to take down the old optometrist’s sign and put mine up,” she says by way of explanation when I express my surprise.

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She proffers a chocolate dip, still warm from the vat. The juicy strawberry smothered in creamy Belgian chocolate is melt-in-the-mouth delicious.

“I’m not a chocolatier,” she continues as I browse the shelves of Belgian chocolate bars and fancy gift boxes, “so at the moment I buy my chocolate from Franschhoek. But I’m planning on doing a course in Belgium as I would love to make my own decadent chocolate one day.”

Born in Grabouw and schooled in the Overberg, Rachel has followed an unusual career path, initially working in a local factory for five years before taking a job as a waitress. The move brought good fortune. A holidaying Irish couple befriended Rachel and helped her realise her dream, sponsoring her a Ki-massage degree in Dublin.

When she came back to South Africa in 2005 Rachel put massage on the back burner and worked at a few wine farms including the Delaire Graff Estate.

“I was Senior Wine Tutor at Delaire for four years” she tells me. “But I always wanted to work for myself. My original plan was to have a classy wine lounge, but because acquiring a liquor licence takes some time I decided to start with chocolate and build my luxury brand.” And it’s going well. “I feel very positive about the business” she assures me. “I know it will fly if I work hard.”

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A natural host, Rachel loves interacting with guests. “I explain to them that chocolate is just like wine. There is a certain way of tasting chocolate that allows you to experience its complex elements. And the beauty about it is that it’s affordable. You don’t need to a special occasion to indulge in a piece of delicious chocolate! This one’s very popular” she smiles when I comment that I haven’t come across Belgian Dark Chocolate with Roasted Coconut and Curry Leaves before.

“People love the truffles too – particularly the ones with liqueurs in. Once I get my liquor licence I’m going to sell wine too, but not the sorts of wines that you can get in the local Spar. Boutique wines from the region, such as Iona and Beaumont, but also exceptional wines from other regions that will be a match for the quality of the chocolates. People who love Belgian chocolate are usually sophisticated in their tastes. They appreciate good wine. ‘I have always believed in following my dreams,’” she concludes when I wish her luck. “When something preordained it will happen one way or the other.”

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There is no sign of the mystery German when I re-emerge on the street – a pity as I want to thank him for my morning treat. The discerning citizens of the Overberg are fortunate indeed that Rachel’s dreams are to provide them with some of life’s most decadent spoils.

Contact:

La Rachel’s Sweet Sensations is located at No 14 Harbour Road, Kleinmond.

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