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Sunday, 20 November 2011

Croatian Sweets Shop Is A Meeting Place For Chocolate And Love







Christine Scholtes Covic produces some 20 varieties of chocolate and truffles at her chocolate production factory (AFP/File, Hrvoje Polan) 




Sources: www.medindia.net

spanishchef.net

today.msnbc.msn.com

www.daylife.com

 www.vecernji.hr

www.lavenir.net

www.she.hr

www.reuters.com


Related: winterheart-zombieboy.blogspot.com/zvecevo-celebrates-14-billion-chocolate.

 www.croatiantimes.com



by Kathy Jones on November 20, 2011 at 6:13 PM



Croatia's Lika region drew Christine Scholtes Covic with its stunning scenery. She was so drawn to it that she ended up with a husband and a new career combining Belgian chocolate with nature's bounty.

"Chocolate is the food of gods, something really noble," said the Belgian native at her tiny production facility in a village nestled among the green hills and valleys of central Croatia.

The 37-year-old had found a new home in the Lika region, famous for its well-preserved forests, mountains and crystal clear rivers and lakes, and there turned her passions for nature and chocolate into a business making truffles and bonbons.

"I always loved to cook but pastries were my specialty. As a six-year-old I was making my own birthday cakes.





Lika Chocolate products cost some two euros a piece and truffles around 33 euros for a kilo (AFP/File, Hrvoje Polan)





"My grandmother had a restaurant so I'm like an Obelix who fell into the magic potion," she said with a grin, referring to the character from the French comic book series Asterix as she explained her "chocolate addiction".

Years later she obtained a diploma in France in bakery and pastry from the Institut National de la Boulangerie et Patisserie, and opened a small pastry shop back in Belgium.

But after discovering the beauty of Lika and its Plitvice Lake national park with 16 cascading lakes and spectacular waterfalls, she fell in love with the place and a local man and moved to Croatia in 2009.

"I was looking for a house and got a husband with it," said the short-hair brunette, smiling warmly.

When the chocolate 'addict' first spoke of setting up a luxury chocolate shop in the Lika area, picturesque but hard-hit by Croatia's 1990s independence war and with over 20 percent unemployment, the locals were surprised, even sceptical.

But she eventually won over the people in the town of Rakovica.

"It was a great idea but it was something completely new for me," said Ankica Baric, a local woman who helps out in the shop.

"When Christine asked me what I know about chocolate I replied that I only knew how to eat it," she added, bursting into laughter.

After struggling with a slow and often confusing amount of red tape and bureaucracy, the shop Lika Chocolate finally started with the production of truffles and chocolates in October 2010.

"It really combines the best of both worlds -- finest Belgian chocolate enriched with excellent Croatian ingredients -- butter, cream -- and local flavours such as honey, nuts, lavender, or local wines," Scholtes Covic said.





Christine Scholtes Covic turned her passions for nature and chocolate into a business making truffles and bonbons (AFP/File, Hrvoje Polan)





Her shop worker Baric gushed that the truffles with locally produced plum brandy were an "absolute hit".

Visitors are greeted by the seductive warm smell of chocolate and spices when they enter the small production facility, located on the ground-floor of a building in the centre of Rakovica.

At the entrance small packages of sweets are laid out while the main part serves as a kitchen dominated by a giant granite table and a fridge -- Scholtes Covic's 'treasure chest' -- filled with handmade truffles and chocolate.

She produces some 20 varieties of chocolate and truffles -- around 150 kilos (330 pounds) monthly.

For the time being her products can be ordered through the Internet at www.lika-chocolat.com , but Scholes Covic wants to expand to the capital Zagreb where truffles would be sold in delicatessen shops.





Chocolates made by Belgian Christine Scholtes Covic are displayed in her Lika Chocolate workshop in the village of Rakovica, in the Croatian region of Lika, some 150 kilometres (93 miles) south of Zagreb January 21, 2011. REUTERS/Nikola Solic





Sales at the shop in Rakovica are brisk during the summer when people stop on a road connecting Zagreb and the Adriatic coast, as the reputation of Lika Chocolate has been spreading by word of mouth.

Chocolates cost some two euros (2.7 dollars) a piece and truffles around 33 euros for a kilo.

"I like the idea and the chocolate is really excellent," said Nikola, a man in his 50s, who stopped at the shop while driving to the capital. He learned about Lika Chocolate in a television reportage.

"This should be available in Zagreb," he added after tasting and buying a box of plum truffles.





View Larger Map





Belgijanka u Rakovici


Imigranti iz EU: Christine u ličkom vrtu radi belgijsku čokoladu



 Belgijka ručno stvara jedinstvene praline i čokoladne tartufe, a otvorit će i školu




Christine Scholtes Covic Belgijanka koja je doselila u Rakovicu i proizvodi praline. U planu joj je proizvodnja cokolade i bavljenje ruralnim turizmom (Foto: Kristina Stedul Fabac/PIXSELL)




Izvor: www.vecernji.hr



autor: Ljiljana Vanjak /VLM

Jedan dolazak u Hrvatsku bio je dovoljan da odluči: tu će živjeti! Zamišljeno, ostvareno: Belgijka Christine Scholtes Čović sada živi u Rakovici i ručno izrađuje praline i čokoladne tartufe.

Našla muškarca života

Naravno, nije baš bilo tako jednostavno, ali bajkovito jest. Najprije se zaljubila u ovdašnju prirodu, a onda i u u muškarca svog života.

Sve je počelo prije četiri godine, kada je s prijateljima obišla Jadran i Plitvice. Noćenje u Rakovici, 1.200 km udaljenoj od belgijskog doma, rezultiralo je odlukom: tu će kupiti kuću! Potraga je potrajala, u konkurenciji je bilo područje do Plaškog. Ono što je željela našla je tamo gdje je tražiti i počela, u Rakovici, točnije pet km udaljenoj Staroj Kršlji.

– Kupila sam krajem 2008. kuću i imanje od devet hektara. Bilo je sve zapušteno, nitko tu nije živio 20 godina i potrajalo je dok smo to uredili. Pomagali su mi mnogi i tako sam našla i muža! Đulaga je s druge strane granice, iz Šturlića u Bosni i Hercegovini, ja iz Belgije, iz Virtona, a sada smo oboje u Rakovici. Svadba je bila našem ranču – priča, odličnim hrvatskim, Christine.

To je peti jezik koji govori: materinji francuski, španjolski, engleski, tajlandski, ne računa li se – sa smiješkom dodaje – šturlički, kojim se govori u mjestu odakle joj je suprug. Novinarka i povjesničarka, prevoditeljica i slastičarka, živjela je u različitim dijelovima svijeta.

– Iz Belgije sam otišla studirati u Južnu Afriku, razmjenom studenata stigla na Tajland, iz Etiopije izvještavala kao novinarka, u Francuskoj učila za slastičarku, ali kad sam vidjela Plitvice... Prekrasno za život, prilika za biznis – objašnjava. Seoski turizam ponajprije, jer u Staroj Kršlji, u kojoj je samo šestero stanovnika, namjerava urediti mjesto za odmor, duge šetnje, jahanje – četiri konja iz Škotske već ima! – uživanje u domaćoj hrani i prirodi kakva se malo gdje može naći. Dok toga ne bude, prionula je najslađoj ovisnosti mnogih, čokoladi. Stvara je u unajmljenom prostoru.

Prokleti papiri

– Htjela sam raditi u našoj kući, ali nemamo vode! Htjela sam i prodavati čokoladu i kolače, ali se ispostavilo da ne može biti slastičarnica i trgovina... Ovdje treba puno papira i nije jednostavno do njih doći, a i uvjeti koje treba ispuniti drugačiji su nego u Belgiji. Bilo bi dobro da je sve to jednostavnije jer bitni su i mali biznisi, ne samo velike tvornice. Ako u malom mjestu netko zaposli troje ili četvero ljudi, to je puno – smatra Christine.

Otvorila je poduzeće Lički vrt, iz Belgije je stigla oprema kojom je radila čokoladu, i počela proizvoditi Lika Chocolate – ručno rađene praline i tartufe. Dvadesetak vrsta: s malinama, marcipanom, rumom i grožđicama, narančom i medom, lješnjacima, keksima, tramincem, šljivovicom ili lavandom iz Rakovice.

– Recepti su moja tajna, ali baza je belgijska čokolada – najbolja na svijetu - a dodaci uglavnom lokalni proizvodi. Odlično se miješaju! Rado bih koristila i domaći maslac i vrhnje, no još nisam našla prodavača – priča, pažljivo umačući tartufe u čokoladnu kremu s kokosom.

Osim širenja posla i prodaje pralina i tartufa na više mjesta, a ne, kao sada, samo u jednom hotelu i trgovini u Zagrebu, te putem interneta, Christine želi proizvoditi i čokoladu s likom medvjeda i Velikim slapom. Namjerava otvoriti i školu za izradu čokolade.

– Za one koji to žele profesionalno raditi ili za one koji dođu na odmor. U Rakovici ću dočekati mirovinu; dosta sam se selila! – zaključuje.



 

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