3 days left, 3 locations to go. After Sunday brunching with a friend at the Whip, we headed up the street to La Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France to sample their entry into City Food Magazine's Hot Chocolate Festival. The tiny store was already packed with other festival followers, which is great - in the first few weeks of the festival it seemed like me and my companions were the only ones participating!
As we stood in line to order I snapped a photo of a glass jar containing truffles on my iPhone. A staff member looked at me angrily and said "Non!"
"Oh, you're not in the picture," I explained, thinking she objected to me taking her photo without permission. "I wouldn't take your picture without asking. It's a picture of the store. I'm blogging the Hot Chocolate festival, I'm taking a picture to blog about the store."
"Non," she said again, and pointed to a small sign on a nearby display shelf that had a picture of a camera with a line through it. I was a little dismayed. A man in front of us in line (with a much more professional camera than my little iPhone) turned to me with a rueful smile and said he was also there to blog and had also been similarly shut down. The reason we were not allowed to take photos was not explained to us. Nor were we offered store-approved photos to use on the blog (which I'm always happy to do if a location prefers).
After a long wait, we finally received our hot chocolates, which we had opted to take "to-go" after the frosty reception from the woman at the counter. To be fair, another woman who was very friendly approached us while we were waiting in line and offered us samples of the dark chocolate lavender bar, which was absolutely to die for. This same woman also served our prepared hot chocolates to us with a smile, so we didn't leave feeling totally unwelcome.
We ordered the Hot Chocolate Festival entry of the day, which was Jasmine, and a regular menu offering, the Rose Petal Hot Chocolate. The people in line ahead of us had been informed that they were out of vegan options so I had to go full dairy. Ugh. Both hot chocolates were served with mini chocolate tarts (one with orange blossom was a particular favourite) which were sinfully rich and delicious - you really only needed a mini-size to feel decadent. I'd show you a picture of these delightful little treats, but, well, I'm not allowed.
As we drove home, the car began to smell positively floral - the jasmine scent was almost overpowering. At home we divided the hot chocolate up and we each tried some of the rose and the jasmine. We should have perhaps tried a floral flavour and then something completely different, such a the anise hot chocolate - the rose and the jasmine were very similar in taste, although the rose was more subtle. I had been afraid, given how strongly the jasmine smelled, that it would be too strong a flavour, but it was delicious.
The hot chocolates were good, but not our favourites of the festival so far. I was still a little too perplexed by the "don't take pictures" policy to really concentrate on the hot chocolate. I can understand wanting picture approval, or permission, or a link to the store included in the photo - hell, I'm an intellectual property lawyer, I of all people understand those requests - but I'm also a blogger who has been met by nothing but enthusiastic responses from those businesses I've supported through this blog, Facebook, or Twitter. I'm at a loss to understand how some sort of infringement might happen through a photo posted on a blog, where the origin of the photo is credited and includes a link to the shop - especially when they've agreed to participate in a festival that is being fuelled by social media, a festival that encourages participants to tweet and post photos of their selections to win prizes. I've mulled it over and I've been hard pressed to find a reason why this otherwise charming little shop would make photos of their exquisite products interdit. Perhaps my blog isn't exclusive enough? Oh well, c'est la vie.