Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Thankful Chocolate: Redesigning, Reconsidering, Rereading

The first thing I'd like to do is thank a few people. Actually, all I'd like to do is thank a few people. Despite plenty of reasons to be angry, disappointed, frustrated, or impatient, I'm in a very good mood. After pushing an enormous amount of work off my desk last week, I began the month of June by shutting down my computer, going to a yoga class, and spending an entire day slow-cooking a Madhur Jaffrey curry and baking a batch of chocolate cupcakes.

Now that I'm back at my computer, my task is getting to work on this blog. It's a different blog than it was before Memorial Day, with a sky-blue border and a an earthy banner that pays tribute to the cacao tree, and for that I thank designer Ricardo Rubio from Guatemala. I've known Ricardo for a couple of years, and he's helped me out on a few business ventures and crazed creative endeavors. He's always been exceptionally productive, patient, and professional--even when I do my eccentric editor-in-chief routine and send back his proposals six times because a color is the wrong shade or a font is the wrong size. Chocolate in Context's clever new logo was all his idea.

Next to my computer is a copy of Making Artisan Chocolates, written by Andrew Shotts of Garrison Confections. It's inscribed "Emily Stone!! Merry Christmas & Chocolate New Year!" though I only received it last week, after the chocolatier-writer offered to send me a copy leftover from the holidays. Shotts had called me from his Rhode Island kitchen because my recent post about his rocky relationship with a New York chocolate shop had caused a stir. After a bit of umming and ahhing, I jumped in by saying that "I'd be pissed off too if someone I didn't know wrote that I was testy," and he countered with "I think you'll actually find that I'm very laid back." He casually pointed out a couple of content errors on my part (Garrison Confections was one of the Chocolate Bar's original vendors, not a replacement for Jacques Torres), and then he expressed his exasperation with the fact that that his invoices to the growing Chocolate Bar for weekly shipments of 4,000 to 7,000 chocolate bon bons were often over sixty days past due. I believe he's more than entitled to his sentiment. (And in anticipation of protests that I should have contacted the other side for a rebuttal, I take the Lauren Slater defense--I'm an essayist, not a journalist.) I thank Drew Shotts for the vividly-photographed book, which offers home cooks lessons similar to (or possibly better than) those in the Culinary Institute of America's Chocolate & Confections textbook.

I wouldn't have known about the CIA's chocolate book were it not for the editorial team at Culinate, nor would I know nearly as much about Madhur Jaffrey's curries. Not only has the publication taken me on as a freelance book reviewer, but they indulged my love of literature by giving me a press pass to BookExpo America in New York this past weekend. "What's Culinate?" people asked as I wove myself through authors signing books and publishers swapping business cards. "It's an online food magazine based in Portland, Oregon--and it's very smart," I answered. Kim Carlson and Mark Douglas, two of Culinate's founders, were in town for the event. Over drinks one night, I handed them the twelve-piece box of Garrison chocolates that had arrived with my copy of Making Artisan Chocolates. I hesitated for a just a moment before parting with this season's newest creations (orange cardamom tea and mango jasmine), but it was the least I could do to say thank you.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Emily: The Garrison chocolates were beautiful and delicious. I only wish now we'd broken open the box while you were still in the room!!! Kim C.

11:09 PM GMT-5  

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