Friday, July 24, 2009


 Chocolate bars seem to be getting thinner and smaller and I feel I’m not getting enough bang for my cocoa beans. Boxes of individual chocolates are not for me, what I like is an extended orgy with a big slab of pure, chocolatey chocolate. The bigger the better. 

As a matter of fact, huge chunks of chocolate hewn out of enormous chocolate icebergs are more my style. Cliffs of chocolate, the ones you can practically climb up the side of with crampons and ice-picks and leave teeth marks on. The only problem is the big rocks of chocolate that you can find at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, are not chocolately enough. They’re too sweet and milky and they don’t have enough cocoa butter and darkness. 
The more expensive stuff, like Lindt, even though the bar is thin and heavily cardboarded, has superior cocoa content and a glossy smoothness that slakes a chocolate craving better than the sugary, milkier stuff.  Just one thin square of Lindt can be folded in half with the tongue so it fits into the palate, the thick cocoa butter melting ve-e-ry slowly, lingering and releasing intoxicating flavour before slipping down the throat leaving a tasty trail.

Chocolate truffles are also a wonderful thing. Real truffles, that is, not those over-sized, shiny smooth things with icing. A real truffle is designed for a taste and texture experience. First, the wild and lusty fragrance punches you in the nose, then, as the truffle hits your tongue, the dry cocoa powder on the outside makes your whole mouth shrink around it as it soaks up your saliva, then it releases the rich, cocoa flavour and, just when you think you’ll keel over with delight, the smooth, silkiness of the ganache bursts out and knocks your socks off, filling your mouth with deliciousness and driving you crazy with satisfaction. 

There are exotic chocolatiers who make chocolate shoes, watches, chocolate phones, sausages and more manly bolts, screws and tools.
Whatever its shape, chocolate is one of life's great taste adventures.

NOTE TO LINDT and SPR√ľNGLI - I would be delighted to do some taste  testing for you on any new products you may be developing.
French Chocolate Cake on Foodista

Monday, July 20, 2009


I like writing to the sound of golf on TV.
The hushed commentary and quiet applause provide a presence without distracting. And there’s all that soothing green grass when you do look up. 
Tennis is good too, although very distracting when Roger and Rafa play, but otherwise, I like the soft “pocks” and the relatively gentle commentary in the background, which let me think without feeling totally cut off from the world.
Of course, if Roger and Rafa are playing it's very distracting for another reason: their beauty of movement and extreme stretches and follow-through are too gorgeous for an artist to ignore.
     The BBC on low volume is also good for a companionable drone.
     Music, I find, is too distracting, it always sweeps me up and makes me listen exclusively to it, drowning out the voices in my head––wait, that doesn’t sound right­­––the writerly voices, I mean.
On the other hand, total silence and solitude freeze my brain. I keep rushing out to see if the world is still there. The trick is to find the right balance of companionable, reassuring and soothing sounds. My thought process, such as it is, needs to know there are people about, downstairs, next door, upstairs, just not right next to me, as I write. Household noises are conducive to writing: dish washing, pots clattering, children’s voices, birds chirping, the dull roar of city traffic with an occasional siren is good. But I just can't to write in the thundering quiet of the country. It's great to gambol about, relax in and paint in, but not to write in. Not for me, anyway.