Things are seldom as they seem

by D. Prinz on September 9, 2010

“Things are seldom as they seem” from Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore rang true as we explored England’s chocolate in Oxford, Birmingham, the Lake District and York in March of 2009. Our search for historic and significant chocolate had us schlepping 262 miles to the beautiful but rainy town of Kendal in the Lake District to visit the “Famous 1657 Chocolate House,” only to learn that while the building dates as far back as 1657, (with plenty of remodeling), chocolate has been sold there only in the last very few years, mediocre chocolate at that. Sure did not seem that way from the website.

At Cadbury World

At Hersheypark

At Hersheypark

Expecting more chocolate gravitas at Cadbury World in Birmingham, we encountered a faded imitation of Hershey Park replete with old style rides and technology, coated in overly sweet chocolate giveaways. Maybe I should not complain since Hersheypark provided no samples at all. In seemingly surprising ways, Hershey and Cadbury their business approaches, religious backgrounds, excitement about tourism and historical roots. Over the years, the two companies mingled other areas as well. In the early days Milton Hershey modeled some aspects of his business after Cadbury. Since 1988 the Hershey Company holds the license for manufacturing Cadbury chocolate products in the United States. Hershey almost bought Cadbury in 2010.

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So, Your Favorite Is…

by D. Prinz on October 24, 2009

“So, what is the best chocolate?  What is your favorite chocolate?” they ask me.
True, there are so many options, each wrapped in tantalizing packaging and full of calories.
I explain that I do not really have a favorite brand so much as a preferred cacao percentage.  Generally I like the 70% cacao range–with its strong chocolate flavor, minus sugary sweetness.  I dislike the bitterness of higher percentages. In the 70% range a small amount satisfies cravings.  Because of the cream and sugar content, I tend to avoid truffles, though I can certainly be enticed to savor them now and then. It is fun to explore the subtle differences among brands and also in the rarified single origin bars now proffered by several companies;  they often are very distinct.
Some of the 70% chocolate stands out for flavor and for price.  Generally, I like the pricing for dark chocolate at Trader Joe’s where the high quality French Valrhona and the Venezuelan Occumare bars sell at really reasonable prices.  The TJ’s brand of chocolate, a Swiss product, is not bad either.
Our neighborhood Chocolate Room at the local Food Emporium (68th and 3rd in NYC), populates a space of approximately 600 square feet with a shifting selection of chocolate related products from around the world, along with the opportunities to taste bars, truffles, barks, and beverages.  On occasion they give away samples of their treats or chocolate drinks, which I have happily enjoyed.  Valhrona runs chocolate demos there. Labels identify cost per pound which makes it very easy to note that prices there can escalate to fifty and sixty dollars a pound. Generally, I aim for the lower priced bars put out by Chocolove or Endangered Species. Or, I buy the Valrhona bulk chunks, probably the best buy anywhere. On other chocolate cost saving outings, Mark aims for the Egyptian owned shop, Melange, on 1st where they sell selections of the fancier single origin Valhrona for about half price.

Truth is, when you love it all so much, it is tough to chose a “favorite.”

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Church Not Paying Cost of Chocolate, Complains Minister

August 15, 2009

Today’s tough economics send many of us to sweets and chocolate to find comfort on tighter budgets. Candy satisfies us today; in the Colonial Period in North America, the daily menu often included drinking chocolate. In 1747 a minister only identified as “Your humble Servant, T.W.,” published a lament about his congregation not maintaining his [...]

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The Minister’s Sweet Tooth

August 13, 2009

In the pioneering days of chocolate in our country, pastoral ministrations using chocolate took several forms. Minister Samuel Sewall, (March 28, 1652 – January 1, 1730) a Massachusetts judge involved in the Salem witch trials, (he later apologized) recorded in his diary that his pastoral ministration bundled visits and sermons with gifts of chocolate: “Monday, [...]

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Winning Some Chocolate and Losing Some Chocolate

July 20, 2009

Martine’s We recently tagged chocolate field trips to our errands and other excursions. One weekend stroll in the neighborhood took us to Martine’s (East 82nd), a very pricy outlet (not in the discount sense) of the house chocolates molded and sold at Bloomingdale’s from Belgian Callebaut. The attendant treated us to an unusual cream filled [...]

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Chocolate in the South?

July 10, 2009

This past April we managed a return visit to CoCo Chocolatier, as we settled into Williamsburg, Virginia, for some research about Colonial chocolate at the Rockefeller Library. A break from the data bases of early historical newspapers and library took us to Colonial Williamsburg’s chocolate making day, which occurs the first Tuesday of each month. [...]

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Visit to the Gomez House

June 29, 2009

Last weekend on a stormy June day (2009), Mark and I packed our barely awake Brooklyn based adult kids into a rental car for what our 26 year old called a “family fun day,” an outing to the Gomez Mill House, the oldest extant Jewish homestead in America of 1714 built by the Gomez family, [...]

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Chocolate in Mexico

January 31, 2009

Tired from the long flight from NYC to Mexico City, via Cancun , my energy level spiked as I meandered into a Mayordomo chocolate shop at the airport. Smelling the recently ground chocolate, marveling at the piles of cocoa beans I aimed directly for several small dishes set out on the counter filled with dark, [...]

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Cocoa-dar

October 12, 2008

Chocolate has entered my life at fun and surprising moments, causing me to suspect cocoa-dar. One such experience occurred as my husband Mark and I traveled in 2006 in our van from Paris south on a small road to Carpentras via the towns of Dijon, Lyons, and Avignon. As Mark drove, I usually read or [...]

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Chocolate Travel

August 2, 2008

Wherever I travel, I seek out chocolate connections with Jews. In the last couple of years, my trips to Belgium, to the southwest of France, to Spain, to Israel, to New England and elsewhere, have revolved around my chocolate research. My interest in Jews on the Chocolate Trail started with travel. Around the time that [...]

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