Tometta from La Thuile
A small chocolate factory with the same name Chocolat (Fraz. Entreves, 2 – La Thuile) is easy to find without a navigator – you still feel the sweet aroma at the entrances to the village of La Thuile, long before a green vintage sign appears in sight. The members of the Collomb family, the founders of the workshop, have been leading a sweet life for thirty years. The father began the chocolate story, and then his son continued, smiling Stefano, more like the hero of Three Musketeers than a pastry chef. Dad, by the way, at his 73 years old continues to work at the factory and is not going to retire. “Who will voluntarily give up art?” He says passionately. And here we have nothing to object, especially to the Italian, in matters of art to a much more knowledgeable person.
Stefano shows us a small cafe hall with five tables, surrounded by old photographs and numerous diplomas of a chocolatier, and then invites you to an excursion to the “laboratory”, which any child is likely to dream of going to. Chocolate fountains are pouring here, surrounded by shiny aluminum surfaces – it seems that the Colomb family has excavated precious natural wells and “black gold” is pouring directly from the water supply. The smell is completely crazy – you need to bring dieters here. It seems that he didn’t eat a gram of chocolate, but the feeling that he had already been saturated with it a year in advance.
In three jugs, bitter, milk and white chocolate constantly mixes, glistens and poured. Stefano sprinkles figures and facts from the chocolate story. So, for example, it turns out that chocolate was first made in the 16th century in Spain, and only then, after 50 years, the first chocolatiers appeared in Italy. In those days, the Spanish kings, learning about the useful properties of hot chocolate, classified the knowledge and declared chocolate a state secret, for violation of which dozens of people were executed. The ingredients were very expensive, so chocolate has been considered the food of kings for almost 400 years. Fortunately, in the early twentieth century, cocoa and sugar fell sharply, so that chocolate became available to everyone. Seniors Collomba still make chocolate according to an old recipe, mixing cocoa paste with brown sugar in a ratio of one to one.
Then the tasting began – and here we could not stop until we tried all the menus. Tastes quickly mixed, but the aftertaste kept for a long time from the most unusual sweets – with cayenne pepper, with lavender oil and juniper. The Colombians, like true Italians, pay a lot of attention not only to content, but also to form. The fillings of sweets are effectively hidden under the female portraits of white chocolate, inside postcards with mountain views and “under the covers” of geyser coffee makers cast from chocolate.
The main specialty of the factory is Tometta cake, which repeats the shape of local cheese. The original recipe for a sweet treat filled with milk chocolate and hazelnuts is patented and awarded the highest award of the Italian Chocolate Association, which in honor of this even awarded the village of La Thuile with the status of the chocolate capital of 2009. Chocolat also prides itself on its hot chocolate and chocolate fondue with seasonal fruits. The Pope himself came to try these desserts here, with a summer residence at the entrance to the valley. Dad with a cup of chocolate is documented in a photograph in a newspaper hanging in the most prominent place of the cafe.
Now all the few tables are occupied by the wheelchairmen descending from the mountains, and all those arriving from the funicular, having not found a place, are content with take-away purchases. “Why don’t you expand the cafe, if there are many more people than there are chairs?”, We ask. “Why? After all, then dad and I will not be able to properly control the quality of the best chocolate of Valle d’Aosta,” Stefano reasonably answered us.
The younger Collomb could seem to talk about his passion for chocolate for a couple more days. He poured scientific terms of the beneficial substances found in chocolate – here you can find the cure for depression, hypertension, the prevention of heart diseases, and aphrodisiacs. In general, solid benefits and not a word about calories. We willingly believed everything and bought chocolate joys for ourselves and as gifts to friends – sweets retain freshness and aroma for three weeks, so if we hold on and do not eat everything ourselves, then we will bring you a try.