So there I was, enjoying a coffee and croissant with cousin Wendy, who lives a mere ten miles from Sidney but whom I hadn't seen in nine years. We met, the sad result of my brother Alan's passing, at a coffee shop I'd never heard of, called Tonelli's Deli. Located at the intersection of Island View Road and East Saanich Road in Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula, Tonelli's is a gem, such as you might expect to find in such disparate places as Brooklyn Heights or Quebec City.
Standing at the counter, with Wendy about to pay the bill, I observed a selection of chocolates in various package sizes, all featuring classic cars. Each package had unique illustrations, some with vintage grand prix racers, others with American cars of the 50's, and European cars from the same era. Along with chocolates in various package sizes, there were cookies and Belgian Waffles. (Ah... did you get that? Belgian Waffles? Absolutely the best waffles in the world!) I chose a small package of bitter sweet Belgian chocolate with a 1950 Citroen on the wrapper. As of this writing I haven't opened it but rest assured I will. Test bites soon to come.
How did this happen? A meeting with Jaak De Koninck, a Belgian artist, and Patrick Gilis, resulted in the creation of a range of chocolate products under the brand name "Starbrook Airlines", which later became "Classic Wheels" and "Fleet." It grew into an international brand sold at high end department stores, deli and specialty shops, and chocolate shops. The company now has distribution in 76 countries and 170 airports, border shops, and cruise and ferry lines.
Which is how I found myself facing a range of packages whose graphics resembled our own Marque1.com blogs. I liked them all so much I wanted to take several home and frame them. After eating the contents, of course. Classic Wheels is expanding throughout North America and I suspect that, in the future, its unique packages will become collector's items. To which I can only add "love what you eat" and "eat what you love." Chocolate fans and classic car fans alike will appreciate those sentiments.
The Artist's Story: Jaak De Koninck uses oil paint and watercolours to portray his world of airplanes, air hostesses and of nearly everything to do with flying, captured under the name of his own imaginary airline: "Starbrook Airlines". Most of his canvasses are on permanent display in the Belgian airport of Zaventem. For some time now, he has been involved in a line of Belgian gourmet food, distributing chocolate delicacies, wrapped in his aquarelles, all over the world. To our benefit, Jaak is equally a classic car enthusiast.