It's getting late and I should be heading off to bed soon if I hope to be in any shape tomorrow morning to take my six-year old to school. Instead, I am furtively unwrapping a bar of chocolate I purchased yesterday at the International Chocolate Show. You'd think that after I rode the F train home clutching my stomach post-event, I'd never want to see another morsel of chocolate again. Ha, that's where you're wrong.
I have an infinite capacity for good chocolate, a cup that never runneth over when chocolate is deposited in it. Yes, I will make myself sick eating it. When I lived in San Francisco I worked in the building where Joseph Schmidt truffles were made. We used to go down and ask for the seconds, poor truffles whose signature Barbie Doll breast shape was somehow flawed. I could easily eat eight of them in a row. Then I'd get this funny feeling at the back of my throat and my jaw would tense up.
So I was a shoo in for the Chocolate Show. I brought my kids along for good measure, knowing there would be plenty of samples to provide the fuel they needed to slog through and overcome occasional moments of whininess. They had no cause to be whiny (c'mon, oodles of chocolate) other than that they had a bloody big crowd to contend with. Despite the crowds, it wasn't hard to muscle up to the displays to partake of samples and boy did we partake.
The kids were happy because Mars had a booth and was handing out dark chocolate plain and peanut M&Ms. I was happy because a triumvirate of artisanal bean-to-bar chocolate-makers was there. Bean-to-bar simply means that these companies bring their cocoa beans into the U.S. and then roast them, mill them, conch them and whatever else to make me my chocolate bars. However, it's anything but simple to do this well and it's mostly done by the biggies like Mars and Hershey. Dagoba, Theo and Amano. Remember those names and seek out their chocolate.
The founder of Dagoba, Frederick Schilling, was profiled in the New Yorker a couple of weeks ago. He actually sold Dagoba about a year ago, for $17 million, to Artisan Confections (a subsidiary of Hershey that also owns the aforementioned Joseph Schmidt and Scharffen Berger). Doesn't matter. They still make great chocolate and Frederick's mom Mary was in the booth at the Chocolate Show to counter my skepticism when I approached with an arched eyebrow. Theo is out of Seattle and I took a tour of their factory in June. They have a young chocolatier named Autumn Martin who I believe to be one of the most talented in the US. At their booth I sampled a juniper infused salted caramel enrobed in dark chocolate. Oooooh. Amano was a name I'd heard, but I hadn't yet tried their bars. They're into the terroir of chocolate and their head, Art Pollard, travels the world seeking out the best cocoa beans with which to make very limited edition bars that evoke their origin.
Just writing about this is making me woozy again. I was intoxicated when I left and the kids were bouncing off their heads like a couple of Daffy Ducks. But I'd do it again tomorrow if I could.
fashion, fashioned from chocolate
Chocolate has recently been found to be a byproduct of beer. You're scratching your heads. Just follow this link.