Halifax’s newest chocolate shop just had its grand opening last Saturday, and I was their first customer! Rousseau Chocolatier, located next to Piatto on Hollis Street, is selling handmade chocolates, macarons, chocolate bars and gourmet brownies.
They are also serving espressos, lattes and authentic hot chocolate – the real stuff, made from melted Belgian chocolate. No worries, vegans, there is hot chocolate for you too! As for the coffee, it is fair-trade organic and roasted by Acadian Maple. I didn’t even realize they roasted coffee, but my double Americano was entirely delicious. Buy any drink and you can get 3 chocolates for 3 dollars. It’s a perfect way to sample the wares, which come in flavours like chocolate ganache, salted butter caramel, marzipan, and cranberry & peanut butter.
I met owners Natalie and Julien shortly after they arrived in Halifax to pursue their chocolate-filled dreams. Julien is from Roquebrune Sur Argens, a small town in southern France, and Natalie is from Ottawa. Julien, who is a trained pastry chef, was living in Wakefield, Quebec (the sister city to his French hometown) when he met Natalie. Eventually his Visa expired and he returned to France, but after only 2 months he found himself drawn back to Canada – or more notably, to Natalie. After Julien’s second Visa expired, the couple moved to France, followed by whatever country would approve Visas to both a French and Canadian citizen – which turned out to be the UK. Working at a boutique chocolate shop in the Scottish highlands, Natalie and Julien began dreaming of a chocolate shop of their own.
Why indeed! With such a huge local rift between the naysayers and those who see Halifax’s cup as half full, it is always interesting to meet people who choose to set up a life here. Neither Natalie nor Julien had ever been to Halifax, but they had been studying it for 2 years from afar by watching Nova Scotia Web Cams. They knew they wanted to live by the water and have a good quality of life. They felt as though they could carve out a niche in Halifax, and it was more appealing than the west coast due to its proximity to Europe and its small size. Julien says “To me, Halifax is a big city”. Since moving here, Natalie has remarked at how metropolitan the city actually is. It is also more affordable than Vancouver, and it rains (slightly) less.
When Natalie and Julien arrived in Halifax they were overwhelmed by the “Local Movement” and the collaboration and support of the community and local businesses. Natalie tells me she has never seen anything like it anywhere else. She also notices an openness of the people here to make new social connections and friends.
Easter Weekend was a great opportunity for the couple to showcase their chocolate. You may have seen them at the Alderney or Brewery markets.
They sold chocolate lollipops, bunnies and 6 packs of eggs in chocolate cartons.
I encouraged my family to supply all of their Easter chocolate from Rousseau
this year. It was a hit!
I was quite eager to hit up the grand opening, especially since they were offering a free chocolate bar to orders over $25. Unfortunately, their oven hadn’t arrived yet so there were no macarons or brownies to be had. But Julien assures me that I will love his fudgy coconut brownie, one of at least three varieties of gourmet brownie available at Rousseau. I’m also excited for colourful macarons – raspberry, passionfruit, coffee, chocolate, and blackberry. Now I know what I’m bringing to house warmings and potlucks!
I encourage everybody to take a trip down to Rousseau Chocolatier and give them a warm welcome! This latest addition to downtown is sweet.