Diary of a Chocolate Goddess
[Excerpt from The Healing Powers of Chocolate]
By Cal Orey
By 10 a.m., both Seth and Simon, my Brittanys, are dropped off at my vet-kennel for the day while Mom gets to enjoy a four-star, all-day chocolate treat. My younger sibling Bruce and I are driving from South Lake Tahoe to Reno — a chocolate lover's haven.
Siena Hotel Spa Casino
First stop: Siena Hotel Spa Casino. Next to the Truckee River, Siena is meant to mimic the Tuscany countryside, complete with chocolate beauty treatments. I have no clue as to what this chocolate bath and chocolate manicure will be like, but I am both anxious and excited.
One hour later: Spa director Jamie Bell is waiting for me — and immediately I feel like royalty. I am led inside a cozy private room. Ah, the chocolate aroma. As Jamie opens the door I am greeted by an oversized bear-claw Jacuzzi-style bathtub full of bubbling water (140 jets!), with organic Chocolate Silk Bath Bubbles with a chocolate scent. I am here for the Chocolate Silk Hydrotherapy Bath.
The lights are dim (the way I like it). Scented chocolate candles and New Age music permeates the air as I'm shown bottled water, and two handmade truffles by the hotel's chef. I am given a white robe and thongs, and told to enjoy 30 minutes.
Like a giddy kid I dip my foot into the warm, swirling water and am elated by the ambiance of it all. I inch my body into the chocolate bath. I cannot believe I am soaking in a bubbly tub (the white bubbles literally overflowing onto the floor) with a chocolate aroma that seems to be making my skin feel soft, silky, and alive. I eat one truffle, light and chocolatey. I never want to leave this place of chocolate bliss.
Thirty minutes later: I am out of the tub, dressed, and off to the get a chocolate manicure. I sit down with my manicurist and there is a tall chocolate milk shake awaiting me.
Valerie Brown, my manicurist, removes my clear nail polish and shapes my nails. Then, she soaks my two mountain-woman hands (weathered from swimming in pool chlorine and bringing in firewood) in a Peruvian chocolate syrup to loosen the cuticle. Then, she covers my hands with a chocolate-strawberry masque to rehydrate my hands, followed by a light massage with chocolate butter.
I am hoping and believing that this silky chocolate crème full of natural ingredients like organic Theobroma cacao and fruit extracts will work to make my hands and nails look beautiful. The French manicure polish looks nice. Next stop is minutes away ...
The Chocolate Bar
We arrive at a hot spot touted in Reno to be a trendy bar-café for the younger set. The atmosphere at The Chocolate Bar doesn't boast plants or fish aquariums — I get that chocolate is alive and the focus. Chocolate-brown floors and a chocolate cocktail bar are part of the scene.
I decide to let the waitress decide for us. Chocolate Lava Cake is described on the menu as “rich chocolate cake filled with molten chocolate center served with vanilla ice cream.” And yes, this desert is delightful. Is this café worth the visit? If you like chocolate, yes, yes, yes.
Our next stop: See's at Meadowood Mall in Reno. We are greeted by the friendly store manager, who fills a bag full of an assortment of dark chocolates and dark truffles. I am surprised to see a Premium Extra Dark Chocolate Bar, which is made with 62 percent cocoa. (Note to self: Ask a chocolatier to infuse healthful ingredients to mimic See's Key Lime Truffle.)
On the way home I think to myself, “How can I get a chocolate Jacuzzi bath on the South Shore?” Sure, I swim and take a hot tub several times a week at a resort spa, but it doesn't have chocolate.
We pick up the Brittanys, and by six o'clock we are back home in Bijou Pines.
When I walk up to the doorstep I see a big cardboard box with the label Ghirardelli Chocolate.
I feel like a goddess who has died and gone to chocolate heaven.