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Pet Name: Nimetta
The Altadorians have elevated the chocolate craft to an art form, and although there are spectacularly talented artisans all around Neopia, it is in Brunel, a town on the outskirts of Altador, that you will find the highest concentration. Visiting Brunel is the perfect opportunity to treat yourself to some of the most delicate, most intensely flavorful chocolates in the world… and buy a few gifts for others, too, if you're feeling generous.
Brunel is renowned for its lively restaurant culture. The city's center is filled with bustling cafés, restaurants, and street vendors. Among them is the Café du Soleil, a small bistro particularly frequented for its homely atmosphere. Next to it is a slightly smaller building, with mint-colored bricks and an ornate, walnut door. This is Petit Morceau, one of the most luxurious chocolate boutiques in all of Brunel.
Chocolatier Nim handcrafts an impressive array of candies, including herb and spice-infused ganaches, almond rochers, classic and salted butter caramels, fresh fruit jellies, delicate pastries, to name only a few. Her attention to detail and freshness is such that her famous millefeuille pastries are made to order for each and every customer — well worth the wait, most will agree.
Most famously, however, Nim crafts artisanal filled chocolates; these little sweets are typically dipped or covered, rather than molded: this is more work-intensive and only allows for simple shapes (such as squares, rectangles, or disks), but it creates a thinner chocolate casing for a more delicate tasting experience. Such chocolates are also smaller in size than their sub-par counterparts, packing a flavor punch in a diminutive bite.
Her confections may be a delight, but the setting of her cozy boutique does its fair share to attract many customers! With its beautifully wood-panelled interior, and a semicircular chocolate counter, the inside is utterly comforting. The chocolates themselves, not overly sweetened, according to Brunel tradition, are amazing, if expensive. And Nim's chocolate confections are diverse as they come. The star of the show is undoubtedly the bonbon de chocolat, or filled chocolate, a bite-size chocolate confection garnished with ganache, praliné, caramel, or fruit. Customers might also enjoy her tablettes de chocolat, or chocolate bars, usually rectangular in shape and divided into easily breakable squares. These will feature different cacao percentages and origins (the highest quality cacao beans originate in the lush jungles surrounding Moltara)! They may be plain, flavored, filled, or studded with various ingredients, such as caramelized nuts or dried fruits. In her boutique, clients may also find an assortment of other chocolate confections: examples include orangettes , mendiants, and chocolate-covered guimauves. Along with these chocolates, Nim also displays artisinal cakes made-to-order, caramels in different flavors, pâtes de fruits, and pasteries often served with petal teas.
Undoubtedly, this little draik has found quite a great deal of success as a chocolatier! Still, Nim had much humbler beginnings...
* * * * *
Nim was born and raised in Altador, and attended Alabriss Village College as a teenager. There, she discovered that she had quite an artistic eye, and spent a great deal of her free time creating delicate watercolors. At 19, the little artistic Draik made the difficult choice to leave her family and move to Brunel, where she could seriously pursue a career in chocolate (something which had been her greatest aspiration).
Alas, finding success as a freelance chocolatier was a task easier said than done, and Nim struggled to find employment and share her work with the world. With her limited income, she had no other choice but to rent a tiny flat on the outskirts of the city, completing odd jobs here and there to make ends meet. She continued creating varied truffle assortments and samples in the hopes of eventually partnering with a restaurant or dessert shop. But, much as she tried, no business would give her or her chocolates the time of day.
One day, she found herself inside a small restaurant in the center of the city. Café du Soleil was a bustling hub for Brunelers to socialize over savory small meals and delicious ice cream. So charmed by this quaint establishment was she, that Nim allowed herself a moment of peace from the stress of her life. She found a table by a window and ordered a small morsel from the menu. As she waited for her food to arrive, the draik opened her sketchbook and drew scenes from the setting around her. With her colorful pencils, she sketched the couple at the adjacent table, and the wild hermiteese loitering on the patio outside, and even the waitress taking orders. Her little drawings attracted quite a crowd, and Nim realized excitedly how many people had gathered around her table to watch the scenes on the paper unfold.
Noticing the commotion by the window, even the owner of the café, M. Frédéric Boissonade, a mustached lenny, approached the table to observe Nim draw. He too, was quite enchanted by her particular style. The manner in which she depicted the restaurant was so vivid and carefree. Such art would look wonderful in Café du Soleil!
When everyone had settled back into their seats, and the lunch service had picked up once more, M. Boissonade approached the draik:
"Your drawings are quite lovely, would you consider selling them to me so that I may display them in my café?" he asked her. Nim was delighted, but she knew she would continue to struggle if she could not maintain a steady flow of revenue from her chocolates.
"Monsieur, I would be happy to, but I must confess, your café is the only place I have received such admiration for my work. I am a chocolatier, you see, and I have struggled for months trying to sell my confections." M. Boissonade paused to think. This young artist may without a doubt increase the number of patrons who frequented his restaurant.
"Bring a sample of your chocolates. If they are as delicious as you believe, I will allow you to sell them here. But in return, I must ask you to draw a collection of works for this café," he offered. Nim nearly jumped for joy! Café du Soleil would be the perfect setting for her to share and sell her work! She excitedly agreed to the arrangement.
And so, Nim began work at the charming little café. She supplied M. Boissonade with colorful pictures to decorate the restaurant with, and in return, she was permitted to sell her truffles and bonbons in the adjacent boutique to the Brunelers who frequented the café. Still, one can only wonder what adventures and inspirations Nim might encounter in a city such as this...
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