Goodbye, Cocoa Atelier. Parting is such sweet sorrow

To paraphrase Ms Golightly, nothing bad ever happened there

 

Until very recently there was a shop in Dublin that was a godsend for people like me, the last-minute merchants of the world. Imagine a lovely friend has invited you to their home for fancy vittles and the date has been in your diary for weeks. If you’re not a last-minute merchant, you’ll be all prepared and have already picked up flowers and/or a nice bottle of wine. Of if you’re like me, you find yourself an hour before the event hastily blowdrying your hair and wondering if there’s anything left over from Christmas that you could regift as a dinner party present.

And because you’ve some shame – well, a small bit anyway – and you think a box of assorted shortbread might scream “left over from Christmas” a bit too loudly, you leg it to the one place you are guaranteed to get something that is (a) impressive and (b) thoughtful. You would head to Cocoa Atelier on Drury Street.

It was a chocolate shop, if that needs clarification. It also doubled as a mood enhancer. To paraphrase Ms Golightly, nothing bad ever happened there. It was a pleasure just standing at the counter wondering if you’d get a box of nine or a box of 12 or – push the chocolate boat out – 25. All around you people were buying hot chocolate or fresh eclairs or pastel macarons. (I don’t really get macarons myself, but I can see the appeal). Sometimes I just popped in to the place to sniff the air.

I went in recently and bought a box, but when I arrived at my party I didn’t have them any more. They had disappeared and not into my mouth. I heard myself explaining to my friend that I’d bought her a box of chocolates from Cocoa Atelier but I could see what she was thinking and there was no point trying to convince her otherwise.

That night I imagined a taxi driver – I must have left them in the cab – opening the exquisitely wrapped box and tucking in to my friend’s salted caramels, his tastebuds doing a waltz of delight. I didn’t begrudge him.

Last week I was in the shop again, on another last-minute dinner-party hunt, and I noticed a couple of things: there didn’t seem to be many chocolates left (I couldn’t see one salted caramel in the display, which worried me) and there was a queue of people there looking grim.

“It’s our last day,” the very nice chocolate-serving woman at the counter said as she delivered the devastating news: “We’re closing and so there’s been a run on the chocolates.”

And just as I was about to buy my last box from Cocoa Atelier, the woman said, “Actually, I think you left your chocolates behind the last time.” and produced my lost salted caramels from a shelf. And so I was able to regift the box of salted caramels that had been meant for my other friend to another lovely friend. It was a bitter-sweet final encounter with the only shop in Dublin that ever gave me a taste of what it might be like to visit Paris. (I’ve never been to Paris. Or Rome. Or ... don’t get me started.)

Anyway, Cocoa Atelier is no more. But their dark salted caramels, their Earl Greys and their chestnut honey ganache live on in some fancy grocery emporiums such as Dollard & Co, so I will be investigating this further. Goodbye Cocoa Atelier. You made life a little bit lovelier and not just for last-minute merchants.

Things to do with children this weekend (one of which involves chocolate)

Baboró presents Wide Eyes, a one-off arts extravaganza for babies and children under six. Photograph: Andrew Downes/xposure
Baboró presents Wide Eyes, a one-off arts extravaganza for babies and children under six. Photograph: Andrew Downes/xposure

All children’s eyes are on Galway this weekend for a major one-off, four-day European event for children up to six years old and their families, hosted by Baboró. Wide Eyes, which runs February 1st-4th, is the first festival of its kind in Ireland and will feature 15 theatre and dance shows from 15 countries all over Europe.

Organisers say the concept for Wide Eyes “is rooted in the belief that children are never too young to quite literally have their eyes opened wide in amazement while they experience the performing arts and it encourages parents and guardians to share these experiences with children”.

Baboró is the only Irish partner in a European network called Small Size, which aims to provide performing arts shows for the very youngest kids. Wide Eyes is the culmination of a four-year Small Size project. The festival is selling out fast but here are a few shows you and your very little ones can still catch.

Mi új ság? (What’s the news?)

We all know that paper is great to draw on and write letters on, but the possibilities don’t end there. Transforming newspaper into just about anything you could imagine, including games, figurines, and even instruments, Mi új ság? shows how a simple stack of paper can bring the imagination to life. Bring some old paper with you to the theatre and join in the fun, which is brought to you by Kolibri Theatre for Children and Youth in Hungary. Suitable for ages 4-6.

Where: An Taibhdhearc, Galway

When: Sun Feb 4, 10.30am/12.30pm/3.30pm

Cost: €7.50/€9

Contact: http://www.baboro.ie/wide-eyes

Xocolat (Chocolate)

Teatro Paraiso is behind this show, which begins when one woman’s predictable, orderly routine of making chocolate bars is interrupted by a surprise visitor. The pleasure of tasting chocolate brings two unlikely friends together as the chocolate melts in their mouths and ignites a dreamlike journey, reminding the woman of the delight that can lie within a simple bar of chocolate. Suitable for ages 2-5.

Where: Nun’s Island Theatre, Galway

When: Sun, Feb 4, 9.30am

Cost: €9/€7.50

Contact: http://www.baboro.ie/wide-eyes

Frö (Seed)

Performers in Frö (Seed), which is at the Wide Eyes festival in Galway
Performers in Frö (Seed), which is at the Wide Eyes festival in Galway

Three performers from Swedish company Teater Tre plant a seed in the soil, sowing a story about the cycle of nature and life. In a performance filled with curiosity and wonder, Frö invites you to witness the fascinating process of growth. Follow the journey of this tiny seed as the seasons whimsically pass by and nature comes to life right in front of your eyes.

Where: Nun’s Island Theatre, Galway

When: Sat, Feb 3, 9.30am

Cost: €9/€7.50

Contact: http://www.baboro.ie/wide-eyes

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