Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Stories that Could Be Written about Chocolate in Barcelona, Montreal, and Elsewhere

Really? Wait, what? Yes, I'm still here. You might not be. Last time I checked in here, I was driving around England in a 1967 E-type Jaguar. That was about a year after Martin Christy generously introduced me to the haltingly precise chocolate craftsmanship of William Curley on a chocolate tour of London. Nearly another year has gone by, and, after taking the same E-type Jaguar through Spain and France over the summer, I just made another stop in England with my significant other (the very same significant other who drives the E-type Jaguar) to find that Curley now has a counter in the magnificently tiled Harrod's Food Hall, and that such expansion has made his exquisite confections much more accessible if just a touch less precise.

It's been a busy year--a new teaching job, a new partner, and a return to New York that's given me the time, money, and space to reshuffle some of my commitments, focusing a bit more on my person and a bit less on my persona these days. Before I go any further, I'll remind myself to point out that this blog is as much about chocolate as it is about me. So why haven't I written about chocolate at all since the beginning of 2014? Why is that app project stalled and that twitter feed on near hiatus too? Don't I have a professional debt to pay to Brad Kintzer and Zohara Mapes of Tcho for their lively dinner table conversation, to Nat Bledder of Madre Chocolate and chocolate elder statesman Steve De Vries, both of whom invited me to crash on their couches during chocolate trade events in recent years? Isn't there a story waiting to be written about the global chocolate bars arranged on narrow wooden shelves bolted into the exposed brick walls at the new La Tablette de Miss Choco boutique in Montreal?

Oh, yes, of course. Yes, to all of it. There is no lack of material. Quite the opposite. For an up-to-date report on the thriving global artisan chocolate industry written with an appropriate degree of enthusiasm, I direct your attention immediately to Sunita de Tourreil of the Chocolate Garage in the Bay Area. But in keeping with my own odd brand of benevolent antiestablishmentism, the ongoing serge in chocolate quality and information has caused in me, ironically, less and less of a sense of urgency. If I can now find a feature-worthy chocolatier in every small and large city, buy truly wonderful products at Trader Joe's and Marks & Spencer, and easily flip through the channels and watch French TV shows about Vietnamese bean-to-bar chocolate makers--or Vietnamese TV shows about French bean-to-bar chocolate makers--then I'm content with that and I can quiet the search for a while.

Don't worry, I'll be back. And I certainly hope you will be, too. Chocolate in Context has always been flexible and it's sticking around. I'll stop by with recommendations when I have them (though Cacao Sampaka was closed for summer holidays when I passed through Barcelona last month) and recipes I invent with my bulk shipment of a custom chocolate blend from my friend Fernando in Guatemala.

Let's get back to it, then.


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