It's late in the afternoon and I'm gazing out the kitchen windows. Take away the pine trees and it looks and feels like S.F. Bay Area--my real home without a winter. It's no secret. The East Coast is getting all of our snow. I don't mind the lack of shoveling, black ice, high utility bills, and getting the Brittanys' nails trimmed less than more. But I do miss the oncoming surprise snowstorm, the silver dollar sized snowflakes, peeking out the door every hour on the hour to see how high the berms get (pondering if I'll be snowed in), and that clean, fresh powder for my dog duo to romp in. But it's not happening. So, as the famous lyrics go, you can't always get what you want, but you get what you need...
Enter chocolate. Today I received pre-Valentine's gifts from one of my fave chocolatiers--San Francisco's Michael Recchiuti's Fine Chocolates. The photo of chocolates are exactly what welcomed me. I am in chocolate heaven (again). The deal is, when you have tasted as much chocolate as I have (during the research of my new book The Healing Powers of Chocolate), it's easy to decode prestige chocolate from mass market chocolate. Don't get me wrong. I have enjoyed a dark chocolate bar purchased at my friendly Safeway. But the right chocolate for me is the chocolate to die for. Yes, I am a fussy chocolate lover.
And that's where Recchiuti's chocolates come in. When I opened the first box of Valentine's chocolates I felt like a kid at an amusement park. Actually, I'm still there. Here, take a look at the chocolates that won my attention from the first look and taste:
* Ginger Heart: I simply adore ginger. Recently I made a batch of ginger scones and used crystalized ginger (it calls for an acquired taste) and fresh ground ginger. So, this ginger infused into extra-bitter chocolate ganache? Ah, it doesn't get better than this. As described in an elegant "cheat sheet": "Cast in a white chocolate couverture, flecked with chocolate and finished with gold leaf." I broke it up into a few pieces and savored it, bite by bite.
* Candied Orange Peel: I love citrus--lemon, grapefruit and orange--paired with chocolate in all forms. As the description reads: "The most flavorful part of select orange peels are blanched, candied and dipped in extra-bitter chocolate." Yes, this won my heart and palate. I am anticipating my indulgence with the Tarrgon Grapefruit chocolate. Note to self: I wish there were two.
* Sesame Nougat: Now this little gem is unforgettable. The crunch (yes, I do crunch from carrots to popcorn) was(past tense, all gone) a nice surprise as was the sesame seeds flavor. The sheet describes it best: "A crunchy nougat disk of toasted sesame seeds topped with chocolate ganache. Enrobed in bittersweet chocolate." An editor at Woman's World once told me, a former diet and nutrition columnist for the national mag, that if a reader recalls an anecdote--it works. I believe this concept works for a box of chocolates, too.
I have 13 more pieces to enjoy, one by one. The thing is, the way you stay petite, lean, and fit is to enjoy each chocolate for its uniqueness, eat veggies, fruits, whole grains and swim, swim, swim. No, you do not sit down and eat a box of gourmet chocolates in one period. Michael was generous with a captial G. I have another box of chocolates and two chocolate bars to try and share the tasty details with you this weekend. Ah, I am in chocolate nirvana.
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A few weeks ago, I was on a radio show to chat it up about chocolate. The host asked me if I, like countless women, prefer chocolate to sex. My answer: "It depends on the quality of chocolate and quality of lovemaking." I hold my ground--snow or no snow in the Sierra. This Valentine's Day weekend I believe Michael Recchiuti's Confections will keep me in the feel-good zone. It's chocolate's compounds, mood enhancers which include--anandamide (touted as the bliss chemical) to PEA (the love drug because it can mimic feelings of falling in love).
So, I leave you with a famous quotation: "My momma always said, Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." -- Forrest Gump