Walking into La Bonne Adresse, you might mistake it for an art exhibit. Rows and rows of brilliant, porcelain-looking marbles with sparkly swirls of color adorn the shelves.
“I grew up baking with my grandma,” Parisian Emilie Van Steenwinckel says. “But chocolate, I had no clue.”
That all changed when she met Fanny Chan, who ran a chocolate shop in Australia.
“I told my brother we should go back to school. I would learn about chocolates and he would make pastries, because that goes well with chocolate.”
Her brother, Julien, a professional gymnast and acrobat, was open and ready for the change. While he gained experience as a pastry chef in Paris, Emilie began an online chocolate business she called Agate, named for the same chocolates she makes on Harrison Street in Hollywood today. “This is the name of the clear marble with the colorful swirl in it,” Julien explains.
“Yes, I was a big marble player as a kid,” Emilie says. “I use all-natural ingredients for everything. For the fillings, I go to the market and get fresh fruit. The passionfruit filling, I want it to — bam — hit you with a wow!"
Emilie is thin but fierce. Her energy distracts from the custom-made body brace that holds her upright and gives her the ability to walk. “I have a rare genetic disease,” she says offhandedly as one would mention a mild headache. It is clear she does not want to be defined or restricted by it, but in France, she was not allowed to work because of her condition, so the siblings decided to move to the United States. “When I was applying for my visa, I was so afraid they would not give it to me because of my disease, but my lawyer told me: ‘No, that would be discrimination!’”
“Yes, people are always focusing only on the bad things of the U.S.,” Julien says. “Everyone talks bad about America, especially now, with the whole political thing. But there are so many good things in the U.S. Like this! Look everywhere – there are ramps!” He says, signaling out the window to the corner. “You can go, you can move, you can live!”
La Bonne Adresse recently celebrated its first anniversary and has been a big hit. “People have heard of us through word of mouth,” Emilie says.
The marbles come in dark, milk, and white chocolate varieties and with fillings such as praline and caramel, raspberry ganache, coconut and passionfruit, strawberry ganache, and gianduja (creamy hazelnut). Chocolates cost $2.25 each, $14.95 for a box of seven, $23.95 for 11, or $54.95 for 25.
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Julien prepares ten flavors of éclairs daily ($5.95), plus savory varieties ($6.95) and petits choux ($2.95). Also available are croquettes (60 cents each, ten for $5, or 20 for $10), quiche with salad ($6), and sandwiches such as the decadent croque-monsieur ($6).
Tending to the regulars who stream in, the siblings are happy in their small shop. Tucked in the corner is an electric wheelchair for when walking becomes too difficult, but because of Emilie’s boundless spirit, it serves more as a reminder of all she has done.
La Bonne Adresse
2003 Harrison St., Hollywood; 954-927-6458; facebook.com/labahollywood.Tuesday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.