Comments are like chocolate

Blog comments are like chocolate! Which is saying a lot given how much I love chocolate (dark chocolate in particular). I’ve had blog discussions about comments before, but I realized that my posts were in 2011 and 2012 so I thought it would be a good idea to revisit the topic again. I think it’s always fun to receive comments because hey, it’s a form of validation… someone is reading my post and is interested enough to say something about it! πŸ™‚ I think commenting is great in the way that it encourages discussions and conversations with people who read the same kind of books that I do. And for me, that’s what makes blogging interesting. This is why I always reply to the comments that people make in my posts.

Comments are like chocolate

Or like potato chips covered in dark chocolate

Over the years, I’ve noticed that people’s commenting habits have changed. I don’t have any stats to prove it but I feel like I used to receive more comments in the earlier years of my blog. Now that could be due to a number of reasons like some of my blogging buddies going on hiatus. But I also cross-link my posts on Facebook and Twitter, and I’ve noticed that some people are more comfortable leaving a Facebook comment or a tweet rather than writing down a comment on an actual blog post. Totally understandable because it’s easier to do that, especially when you’re on your phone. I also do the same thing when I’m going through other people’s posts while I’m on the go. It also makes it easier for me to reply to someone when they do that, it’s just that it’s more difficult to keep track of the discussion when it isn’t being saved on the blog.

I know that some people tend to prefer to lurk, instead of writing comments. This is also something that I could relate to since I was a lurker before I started my own blog. There are also instances when you’ve read the post but you don’t feel like you have anything substantial to add so you skip leaving a comment. That happens to me too. But I hope visitors and followers of my blog feel like they can comment anytime, even with something random like just saying hi. πŸ™‚

I also used to comment on other blogs a lot more. Back when I used Google Reader to keep track of blogs that I follow. Nowadays, I usually just leave comments when I have some time to check out the blogs I’m interested in, or to visit other blogs participating in a meme. If you ever come across a blog post that you think I’d be interested in, feel free to share a link so I can check it out.

I’m basically thinking out loud here, and sharing some of my thoughts about blog comments. What do you think about comments? Do you also enjoy receiving and replying to them?

Influenced by a Book: #LauraFlorandDiscussion

As a reader, there have been times when something that I read in a book has influenced some of my actions. Influenced by a Book is a feature that lets me share experiences like that. You can view some of my previous posts here.

My friends Kim and Mina are co-moderated a discussion of Laura Florand’s Amour et Chocolat series. I wasn’t able to join the face to face discussion in Manila earlier today, but I participated in the online discussion. A common reaction to reading this series about chocolatiers and pastry chefs is to crave delicious desserts and chocolates like the ones described in the books. Because of this, Mina requested that we share photos of our chocolate adventures on social media and use the hashtag #LauraFlorandDiscussion. I’ve shared pictures all over Twitter and Facebook, and I wanted to consolidate all of them in this one blog post. I don’t know whether I should be proud of myself for using #LauraFlorandDiscussion to indulge the dessert addict in me, or be embarrassed by how sinful some of these creations are. Sharing these pics in no particular order because I’ve forgotten the exact dates when I had them (also not giving a timeline on when I had these πŸ˜› ).

Paris Baguette is a Korean bakery that has a branch near our office. I get some of their pastries for breakfast from time to time. I love their chocolate earl grey cake (more like a mousse) because I’m a fan of both chocolate and tea-flavored desserts:
Paris Baguette - chocolate earl grey

Another cafe near the office is Paul, a well-known cafe in France. I’ve seen branches of it in French airports and train stations. I dropped by to grab a croissant and chocolat chaud for breakfast one day:
Paul - pastries

Paul - macarons

Paul’s macarons have two sizes: tiny and huge.

Royce is a fancy Japanese chocolate brand and my go-to whenever I’m in dire need of chocolate. I think they’re reasonably priced for the quality that they provide.
Royce

Awfully Chocolate is a Sinagaporean chocolate store that offers a variety of dark chocolate desserts. My favorite from them is their cold poached chocolate, a kind mousse that’s so rich and yummy. I’m not a big fan of their truffles, I think the ones from Royce are better.
Awfully Chocolate

This post would not be complete without a Laduree shot! I’ve tried Laduree in Paris and Singapore and I think the quality is pretty consistent. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite macaron brand in Singapore but I feel like they started the trend so they deserve the popularity. I tried their earl grey flavor when I visited this time.
Laduree - Laura Florand Discussion

Bonheur Patisserie is a brand that comes up whenever I search for macarons in Singapore. I didn’t love them the first time I tried their macarons but I’ve found two flavors that I think they do really well: lavender and rose.
Bonheur Patisserie

Bonheur Patisserie 2

Bonheur Patisserie with matcha

Bonheur Patisserie’s lavender and rose macarons paired with St. Marc’s matcha latte

I’ve been meaning to try Patisserie G for a while now and finally got to do so when I was in that area with my friend. We shared their signature dessert called the G spot and I had a lavender lemon macaron. We found the G spot just okay, but I thought the macaron was yummy.
Patisserie G pastries
Patisserie G macarons
Patisserie G

Last, but certainly not the least, is another well-known Parisian cafe that opened a branch in Singapore: Angelina. I previously blogged about their chocolat chaud and macarons. This time, my friend and I ordered their Negresco pastry (meringue, chocolate mousse, dark chocolate shavings ) and signature Angelina tea (light and fruity). My friend and I agreed that the Negresco is much better than the G spot mentioned above.
Angelina - Negresco and tea
Angelina - Negresco

OMG I’m feeling so guilty just looking back on these pictures. I need to have more salads in the coming days and weeks. I used to say that I would have started a food blog if I didn’t have a book blog. So it’s also been fun to go to these places, try their desserts and take pictures. Sometimes, I share my food adventures on Instagram. What do you guys think of all of these yumminess? πŸ™‚

Influenced by a Book: Chocolat Chaud et Macarons

As a reader, there have been times when something that I read in a book has influenced some of my actions. Influenced by a Book is a feature that lets me share experiences like that. In a previous post, I talked about how A Wish Upon Jasmine by Laura Florand influenced me to give lavender oil a try. Today’s post is also inspired by another Laura Florand book, The Chocolate Kiss. The female MC of the book has a special way of making chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) while the male MC is renowned for his macaron creations.

My friends Kim and Mina are co-moderating a discussion of Laura Florand’s Amour et Chocolat series. While I haven’t reread any of the books recently, I’m being reminded of them because of the discussion threads. So when I had an emotionally draining and stressful work day, I chose to drown my sorrows in Angelina’s chocolat chaud and macarons:

Angelina - chocolat chaud and macarons

Angelina - chocolat chaud and macarons 2

OMG this chocolat chaud was super thick. It’s rich enough for me to marry! I could have had it just by itself for dessert. But I’m a macaron fan so I went ahead and ordered a set that included dark chocolate, chestnut, lemon and chocolate passionfruit. I finished all of these by myself and yes, I did feel slightly better about my day after this particular indulgence. Just one more work day to get through before the weekend is here.

What about you, have you done anything lately based on something you’ve read in a book?

All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate by Laura Florand

Kiss the BrideAll’s Fair in Love and Chocolate is a novella from the Kiss the Bride anthology. I read this after reading the two Amour Et Chocolat novels: The Chocolate Thief and The Chocolate Kiss. All three stories are loosely tied together in the sense that they’re about the top chocolatiers/dessert-makers of Paris but each book is about a different couple. I couldn’t get enough of Laura Florand’s writing so I gobbled up these novels (and one novella) one right after the other.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Going undercover as a bride-to-be, food blogger Eloise Layne is determined to learn charismatic French chocolatier Simon Casset’s famously guarded secrets. But somehow her man of mystery is succeeding in uncovering her every desire, one smoldering kiss at a time.

Ellie is a food blogger, a girl after my own heart! There was a time when I was considering creating a food blog because I enjoy eating good food. You would know this if you follow me on Instagram because I mostly post pictures of food and books over there. At that time, I thought it would be fun to feature the restaurants that I tried in Manila (and now Singapore) but since I already had a book blog, I didn’t think I could maintain another blog. Isn’t it awesome that Laura Florand has a main character who is a blogger? I can definitely relate to Ellie because of that.

“It helped her, the blog, made her feel that when she flung herself out there to the world, well – the world liked her.”

I admire Ellie for her actions because blogging and pursuing your passion is something that I would love to do as well. She takes the huge risk in moving to Paris because she’s always dreamed of living there, knowing that it’s filled with places that would be a joy to discover for a food blogger like her. She’s the type of person who pours all of herself in everything that she does. Very enthusiastic and full of life, she draws the attention of Simon Casset, one of the top chocolatiers of Paris. It’s like a dream come true for her to meet him, discuss his work and get a peek inside his laboratoire. I like how Simon thinks of himself as a nerdy and anal chocolate-maker while Ellie sees him as an artist who creates whimsical works of art. It was so much fun reading about these two characters and watching their love story unfold. Here’s a sample of some of the beautiful words from this novella:

“A longing to taste what she had heard so much about, and what was physically so beautiful. She gestured helplessly toward the half-finished structure, so magical, as if something as earthbound as food could be transmorphed into an airy grace that touched the sky. He made her feel like she could fly. Like it was all worth it. Eating. Life. This was the kind of thing you lived for. Right?”

Yep, that is the kind of thing you lived for. Short and sweet, All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate is a perfect sample for anyone who wants a bite of Laura Florand’s delicious writing. I still prefer the two full-length Amour Et Chocolat novels over this one just because the romance has more depth. Read this if you’d like to give Laura Florand a try but you’re not sure if you’re willing to commit to reading a novel. This is a good novella for a relaxing afternoon or evening, paired with a chocolate dessert.

Renga chocolate cake

Also, just a heads up to fellow Laura Florand fans out there, The Chocolate Rose has just been released in Kindle format! If you’ve been waiting to devour another book from Laura, then hurry and grab a copy of this one. I’m planning to read it as soon as I can.

The Chocolate Rose

The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand

I have to thank my good friend Michelle for introducing me to what has become one of my favorite contemporary romance series. I had a feeling that I would enjoy reading Laura Florand’s novels after my copies arrived and I saw how pretty they were. I’m pleased to report that I wasn’t disappointed.

Here’s the summary from Laura Florand’s website:

The Chocolate ThiefPARIS
Breathtakingly beautiful, the City of Light seduces the senses, its cobbled streets thrumming with possibility. For American Cade Corey, it’s a dream come true, if only she can get one infuriating French chocolatier to sign on the dotted line…

CHOCOLATE

Melting, yielding yet firm, exotic, its secrets are intimately known to Sylvain Marquis. But turn them over to a brash American waving a fistful of dollars? Jamais. Not unless there is something much more delectable on the table …

STOLEN PLEASURE

Whether confections taken from a locked shop or kisses in the dark, is there anything sweeter?

I LOVE desserts and I’m a big fan of chocolate. Some of my favorites are dark chocolate with nuts, mint chocolate and truffles. I know it’s not a healthy habit but I have chocolate almost everyday. I eat chocolate to cheer me up when I’m feeling a little low and I also eat chocolate to celebrate when something good happens. I feel like there’s always an excuse for me to indulge in chocolate. So imagine my delight at discovering that both the main characters in The Chocolate Thief are fellow chocolate-lovers. Cade is the heiress of Corey Chocolate, one of the largest chocolate corporations in the world (I think the surname Corey is a nod to Hershey). While Sylvain is one of the top chocolatiers in Paris. I wish I could afford to try chocolates that are as good as Sylvain’s masterpieces but I’m afraid they’re probably too expensive for me. I did find Sylvain’s reasons for choosing to work with chocolates intriguing:

He had been a gangly, awkward adolescent with shaggy hair, so it was a good thing he had discovered very early in his teenage years What Women Wanted.

Chocolat. If you wanted to lure a woman who wouldn’t otherwise have looked twice at you, good chocolate was better than a love potion.

Add the fact that the novel is set in Paris, a beautiful, romantic city that I’ve always wanted to visit and I’m one happy reader. We have here a chocolate-filled take of a love-hate relationship. Both of them love chocolate but in different ways. Cade is proud of her family’s heritage and how their products bring happiness to millions of people. She’s all about making chocolate more accessible to people. While Sylvain looks down on mass-produced chocolate and believes that creating chocolate is a fine art form. What I loved about these two characters is how passionate they both are about what they do. Cade knows that people rely on her and their company is responsible for providing much-needed jobs. Sylvain pours so much of himself in what he does that he takes total ownership of his creations, to the point that he feels that people are tasting a part of him whenever they devour his chocolates. This is why he takes so much pride in the fact that Cade can’t get enough of his work, which she doesn’t want to openly admit so she resorts to stealing them. I can certainly appreciate a girl resorting to thieving for the sake of the finest chocolate that she’s ever tasted. I like how the reader is given a full understanding of the characters’ background, how and why they became who they are when we meet them. I liked Cade and Sylvain’s warm interactions with their family and friends. The Chocolate Thief is a deliciously tempting work of fiction, I gobbled it up in just two days. I would have done it in one sitting if I didn’t have to go to work. Highly recommended for fans of chocolate, novels set in Paris and contemporary romance. Just make sure you have some chocolate on hand when you read this. I seriously cannot wait for the third book in the series, The Chocolate Touch, to be released in July. It will be about Cade’s sister and Sylvain’s rival.

On a side note, I’m delighted to put up a post on my birthday about a book that I loved. I wish I could do that every year. Yesterday, my lovely co-workers got me this yummy chocolate cake called Othello:

Glace birthday cake 2013

Happy 29th of March! πŸ˜€

Other reviews:
Rachel Neumeier
Angieville
Smexy Books