juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
Brand: Trader Joe's
Flavor: Chocolate Palette: Dominican Republic
Cocoa content: 70%
Review: "Slightly nutty notes and a sharp finish." This chocolate has a surprisingly lovely dry roundness. It's full-bodied, but on the opposite end of the spectrum from robust: dry, golden, subdued, and distinctive. I get little of the sharp finish (except for the ever-present sugary aftertaste), but other than that I have no complaints. This is a satisfying chocolate with a flavor that I don't often see and found I quite enjoyed.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
Brand: Trader Joe's
Flavor: Chocolate Palette: Ecuador
Cocoa content: 68%
Review: "Deep chocolate aroma with floral and fruit notes." I generally prefer dark, robust, spicy chocolates (especially in this palette), but Ecuador has flavorful lightness which is surprisingly pleasant: it's airy, deceptively light, palatable, and gently unusual. Unfortunately, the high sugar content gives it a sharp mouthfeel and strong, sweet aftertaste; you wouldn't think that just a few percentage points would make such a difference in the sugar to cocoa ratio, but apparently they do—and Ecuador suffers for it, because it would be better as a bitter chocolate. Fortunately, the chocolate's light flavor is well complimented by plenty of water to wash all the sugar down. I like this bar mode than I'd expect, but the sugar content is just too high to make it truly enjoyable to eat.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
Brand: Trader Joe's
Flavor: Chocolate Palette: São Thomé
Cocoa content: 70%
Review: "Intense cocoa flavor with an exciting bitterness;" in other words: straight up dark chocolate. The relatively high sugar content of the palette overshadows the bitterness and leaves a sweet aftertaste, but the lack of a distinct flavor profile isn't a bad thing: it makes for a decently high quality, palatable, but intense chocolate with a robust, if generic, flavor. While not particularly memorable, this is a good all-round chocolate and a pleasure to eat.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Brand: Trader Joe's
Flavor: Chocolate Palatte: Tanzania
Cocoa content: 73%
Review: "Subtle fruitiness with a fine hint of vanilla." A robust chocolate, full-flavored and only moderately sweet, settling into a comfortable place between having a personality all its own and being a palatable, approachable, but potent take on an everyman's chocolate. The higher cocoa content tones down the grittiness of the sugar and its strong aftertaste, and so I find this bar much more enjoyable to eat. I prefer a more distinctive flavor and so Tanzania isn't my new favorite, but the experience of eating this full-bodied chocolate is truly enjoyable.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
Brand: Trader Joe's
Flavor: Chocolate Palette: Venezuela
Cocoa content: 70%
Review: Described as, "Unique, mild taste with hints of floral and dried grasses"; these lighter, drier cocoas tend to be my least favorite. Insofar as unique and mild go together, this is it: an almost thin, dry, almost cool cocoa with a non-sweet flavor (although, as with the rest of the palette, there's actually quite a bit of sugar and a distinct sugary aftertaste), this is different from the robust chocolate I usually favor—but its strangeness is subdued, and I sometimes overlook it. The bar is perfectly palatable—smooth, moderately dark, easy to eat, but the sugar leaves a gritty feel in the mouth. The change of pace of Venezuela's dry flavor can be interesting, but this isn't a remarkable chocolate or particularily to my liking. I eat this one first to get it out of the way.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
Brand: Theo
Flavor: Spicy Chile
Cocoa content: 70%
Review: Chile and chocolate are often lovely together, but this is merely an average example of the flavor combination. The chocolate is decent but by no means exceptional: it's smooth, mild, has no distinctive flavor, and is deceptively sweet and thin in the mouth. The spice is moderately strong for a chocolate bar, but it comes late in the bite and lingers in the aftertaste, dry and almost unpleasant in the back of the throat; it's all heat and no flavor, which doesn't add much to the chocolate. Combined with the sweetness, the spice feels like an afterthought and seems almost out of place. Not that the bar is bad overall—the combination is still tried and true, the chocolate is palatable, there's nothing here which is outright offensive. It's just not very good, either. I have other spicy chocolates which I like better; I won't buy this again.

This is part of Theo Chocolate's classic collection; the Bread & Chocolate bar is from the fantasy collection. I imagine their production quality and values are similar; the Spicy Chile does, however, feel classic to the point of routine and even dull; the Bread & Chocolate is more imaginative, flavorful, and successful.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Because, you know, I just don't review nearly enough stuff, I think I'll start jotting down little reviews for chocolate bars. I'm by no means an expert, but I am a chocolate addict and my tastes are growing more discerning. I have a no-exceptions bias for dark chocolate, 65% cocoa content or higher, and I prefer organic, free trade, and single origin products when possible; I dislike fruit (with the exception of orange) and most mint flavorings and inclusions. Expect those biases to be reflected in my reviews. This ain't chocolate for everyone. It's chocolate for me.

Brand: Theo
Flavor: Bread & Chocolate
Cocoa content: 70%
Review: French bread in my chocolate? I wouldn't have guessed, but: yes please! This is surprising and unusual, and a wonderful combination of contrasting textures and flavors. The base is a mild chocolate—70% is dark, but not very dark—which is distinctly sweet without being sugary and has a smooth, light, non-waxy mouthfeel. The French bread is very thin and crisp, and so while it resembles puffed grain inclusions in other chocolates it's actually quite different: it has more weight and body without being heavy or dense, and provides a more slightly more substantial spin on that familiar crunch. The bread is salted, giving salty, savory contrast to the chocolate's sweetness, and the chocolate is quality enough to support the addition but mild enough not to fight it. The feel of biting into this chocolate quickly becomes addicting, the flavor is satisfying complex, and it's palatable and easy to eat without being reduced to sickly sugars and creams. I'm absolutely won over, and will buy this again.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
I've never approved of the message "it gets better" as a way of surviving suffering. It's well-intentioned, but it teaches that suffering must be borne rather than changed, that everything depends on the hope of miraculous salvation. It's a toxic message—and I say that because for a long time, things didn't get better for me. The more that I depended on the promise that they would, the more I suffered: from the mental health issues that surfaced at the end of high school but oh, don't worry, it gets better when you graduate—through the first two years of hell at college but oh, it'll be better at a different school—collapsing utterly when I transferred, and reaching the lowest and most dangerous period of my life. It destroyed my hope, to be constantly promised a brighter future and always denied it. And as powerful as hope is, its absence is stronger.

I don't believe in promising that it will get better, if you just live through this, last until then, and wait for everything to change. I believe in supporting people in the now. I believe in not waiting out suffering, but trying to combat it.

Which is all well to say, but the truth is that I spent so long hurting, depressed, and hopeless that not only did I no longer believe that it could get better, I was afraid that it would. The higher I was, the further that I had to fall. For years people told me that I was afraid to be happy, and the truth is that they were right—because if even hope could hurt me, then imagine the harm that happiness could do.

I'm happy now, and it scares the everloving shit out of me.

I just spent a long weekend visiting Dee ([livejournal.com profile] century_eyes) up north. I met her family; I stayed in her house. I met Lyz ([livejournal.com profile] sisterite) on Saturday, for the first time since we became friends six years ago.

Each time that something like this happens, I'm certain that I'll fuck it up. I'll be quiet and boring, or desperate and self-conscious, and I'll definitely forget to say things and fail to be the engaging, intelligent individual that I purport to be. I'll be boring and boorish and awkward, and there will be no spark after all. There's such anticipation surrounding these things, you know—and there's always a fear, my fear, that it will turn out so mundane, with no magic at its heart.

And maybe that's precisely how it goes.

But I also gave Dee Persona 3, and I watched her play the first few hours, and we both loved it. I squeed to see familiar faces again (there are so many in those first few days, hiding in the background!) and she called me adorable. It's hard to give a gift of something that you really love, hard not to demand that the recipient love it too, hard not to fear they won't—but I think she can and will, and she's certainly enjoying it so far, and that's awesome.

Dee's mother is personable and kind and, even to misfit-me, comfortable to be around. Her brother cooks food to make the house smell like heaven, and baked chocolate lava muffins which were as good as promised—warm and delicious, crunchy outside and smooth inside, deep dark chocolate. Their cats are adorably strange, as cats will be; Casey the dog loves you, loves loves loves you from the moment you get to the door, and it is impossible not to feel wanted in the face of that love. Dee's mother's house is a gem, like something from a painting—everything so small and sweet, neat and precise, a triangle of light against the winter dark.

Lyz is beautiful in person—so vibrant, gorgeous coloring and fresh red hair, a rich voice and good sense of humor, a beautiful bohemian look and her umbrella had ruffles on it. I'd underestimated how lovely she would be—which is saying something! We ate remarkable flourless chocolate torte at Wild Ginger, which is saying something too because my tastes in that field are practiced and refined: chewy and dense with a hint of crunch at the crust, served with whipped cream (Chantilly cream, by the way, is just sweetened, sometimes flavored, whipped cream), and topped with crushed almond praline which to my surprise was the perfect delicate, crumbly, sweet counterpoint to the dense cake. (A+, would eat again.)

Downtown Seattle shined with rain and Christmas lights, and Dee and I shared an umbrella. (Washington flooded over the weekend from all that rain.) Pike Place was a new scent on the air each time the wind changed direction. Closer to home, Dee took me to a local used bookstore where the floor creeks and books are shoved into every cranny, where the paperbacks are a little warped and everything is refreshingly cheap. Driving out of town on Monday the landscape was still swathes of dim water, bare trees and yellow brush, and a shroud of creeping mist—and while it disturbed the train service, it was as beautiful as something in the best gothic novel.

And yes: I'm still nervous, and I will always be quiet and strange, and I forget to say things. I make poor eye contact. It takes a long time for me to get comfortable. I am mundane after all. These trips, these meetings, are too: just a few folk, in a place, together.

And outside of these incredible trips and meetings, my life is nothing special. I do nothing and contribute less. My mind's a mess, and it may always be.

But there is so much, these days, which is right.

Despite being awkward and normal and quiet, people still love me. Despite a strange and busy December, I can still have a beautiful holiday season. Despite it all, amazing things happens. Despite it all, they promise to happen again. Despite it all—

Despite being normal, imperfect, and scared out of my skin—

I want them to.

I went through long years when I wasn't able to be happy. I went through years when I thought it was impossible, when I was afraid of the very idea. But when happiness hits you this damn hard and unforgiving—when it hits me, like a bullet in the head—no matter how terrifying (and it is terrifying), it's undeniable too.

I love almost every Florence + The Machine song, and I sing them loud and find them so affecting, but every now and then I hear one of those songs—songs which I know by heart—as if I'm hearing them for the first time. I hear it deep down, and finally understand what it means—what it means to me. I listened to Dog Days Are Over on the ride up to Washington, and found it to be true.

This comes like a bullet, like a train, it hits so hard and scares me so much. I don't mean to exaggerate—I'm still normal, my life is still imperfect, and even this wonderful weekend was just a little trip up north. But even for a normal little girl there are apocalypses and revelations. These are mine. They are large and strong, and terrifying.

These days, I'm happy.

(And I never wanted anything from you, except all that you had and what was left after that too.)
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I just had my birthday dessert with Devon's family, a Trader Joe's Handmade Chocolate Ganache Torte which I am pleased to say was actually pretty good. As we know I prefer my chocolate simple, pure, and dark; I dislike the texture and dilution of cakes, and I'm actually not a fan of ganache (again, I don't like the texture). This torte is chocolate mousse (fairly dense, and stored frozen which only makes it thicker) sandwiched between chocolate cake (low on flour, but not flourless—it's a dense cake without the crumb-texture of most cake) glazed with bittersweet chocolate ganache. It's dense and flavorful, rich chocolate without too much sugar, and the combination of textures makes for a lovely midpoint between creamy and chewy. I would still prefer a simple flourless torte (or chocolate souflé), but for something store-bought this was surprisingly lovely.

I finally instituted an obsession: chocolate tag. It's about time!

I sat down not to write about this, but about something else entirely. I'll get to that post soon. In the meanwhile, a blurb about chocolate. So there we go.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

I would post a different lolcat, because this is the same one I used last year—but I used it then, and use it now, because it's my favorite. Perhaps it's a tradition now, too? (I still don't even like cake.)

Today's my birthday! I'm 25.

My birthday is, this year, as low key as always—and I prefer it that way. Yesterday I finished rereading To Charles Fort, With Love (my reveiw), which Dee ([livejournal.com profile] century_eyes) gave me—and it is a perfect gift because I love it more each time I reread it, and now I can stop borrowing the library's copy over and over again in an attempt to pretend it is mine own. (Ironically, my copy is a used library copy.) I started reading one of the four books I bought at Powell's during the Portland trip, which, while not explicitly a birthday gift, fall close enough to the date to feel like one—and I am throughly enjoying this book so far. This morning I caught my dear Bart ([livejournal.com profile] aep) on IM, and the chance to talk to him was a gift in itself. Devon gave me the ultimate edition of The Fifth Element, because I wanted a copy of the film with special features, and were thinking of BPAL for my big birthday present, because the Halloween update is, as always, glorious*—but I'll wait to see what I get from my parents before we make an order. And tonight my parents are taking Devon and me to dinner at Nirvana, one of my favorite local restaurants. It will be a good day.

ETA: And indeed it was—if a bit tiring. We had a lovely dinner with my family, and then went to New Morning Bakery where I had a flourless chocolate and cinnamon torte (interesting and enjoyable, but not quite as dense and flavorful as my preferred Chocolate Sin). My parents gave me a modal body pillow cover, which I'm very grateful to receive, and Travel Fresh Sleep Sack, which will be something of an experiment—I tend to take a modal sheet with me when I travel because I'm a picky little sleeping princess, so this may be an easier alternative. They also gave me some spending money which will probably go to BPAL, and some blue cheese stuffed green olives, which are my current favorite food in the whole wide world. Devon's family also gave me edible indulgences, which is never a bad choice: a chocolate torte to try when I'm not full on a different chocolate torte, some bree, and three varieties of dark chocolate bars (60-90%)—two of which I know I love. The festivities are done now, and I'm full and exhausted and it's time to curl up in quiet with a book—but yes, it was a lovely day. Thanks to everyone for the well wishes!

So happy birthday to me!

* For the curious: My tentative BPAL Halloween 2010 order. )
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I spent last weekend in Portland (Oregon) with Dee ([livejournal.com profile] century_eyes), and have about a dozen entries I could make on the subject. But while catching up with Devon on the first evening, I mentioned where we'd gone to eat and he replied with, "You review everything." He meant it in a good way. ^_^ And so we begin with: Portland restaurant reviews, from this non-foody, vegetarian, picky eater who nonetheless found a lot of good food over the weekend. For the most part I can only speak to my own biased, limited experience, but nonetheless...

Doug Fir Lounge
We stayed at the Jupiter Inn, so it only made sense to visit their restaurant. I had the Farmer Sandwich with a side of tomato soup for lunch, and while the sandwich was damn hard to eat with anything approaching grace—chunky vegetables and extra cheese make for disobedient filling—the flavor of everything was wonderful: green veg, sweet red pepper, savory cheese, and a touch of bite from the onion in the sandwich with a rich, savory, flavorful soup. We both had the Mac-n-Cheese for a late dinner the next day, which was enjoyable but not quite as good: the breadcrumb topping adds wonderful texture, and the dish is warm and comfort-foody, but the pasta was a touch overcooked and the sauce could have used more garlic to make it pop (keep in mind, I eat a lot more garlic than most folk). All in all, a convenient, quirky place (the atmosphere is wonderful) with a nice menu. We were both impressed.

The Farm Café
Just down the street was this busy little restaurant, but the wait for a table was worth it. Most of the menu is preprepared, so turnaround is speedy—but they sacrifice no quality. I had the Goat Cheese Ravioli and while the cherry tomatoes and hazelnuts on top made for too much textural froo-froo, the flavor—especially of the tomato cream sauce—was divine, and the goat cheese gave it personality and kick. For dessert we split the Sunken Chocolate Soufflé with Coffee Ice Cream, which is made to order. A rich, hot bitter chocolate soufflé with a crispy top and moist heart, topped with sweet, cold, creamy ice cream—the combination of textures and flavors was delicious and decadent, and there are few things in this world better than a great chocolate dessert. We both loved this place and want to return—I think it's my pick for best of the weekend. The menu is extensively vegetarian friendly, and the outdoor seating has an atmosphere which is simultaneously classy, airy, and relaxed.

Grendel's Coffee House (get your website together, guys!)
Across the street from the hotel, and another lovely find. We went here for two light breakfasts, and they offer drinks, pastries, and sandwiches, a variety which makes this a flexible option. The food is simple, slightly above average in quality, with and special attention paid to little details like veg*n alternatives and tea variety. The atmosphere is what sells the place: low-key and off-beat, with friendly staff and interesting patrons, it's a good place for a nice long chat over coffee. This is the sort of local coffee shop that I wish I had in my hometown.

Old Wives' Tales
We came here for a light lunch, and I wish we'd been able to come back for more. Extensively vegetarian- and dietary restrictions-friendly, I love the ethos of this restaurant as well as its relaxed atmosphere. I had the Greek Melt half sandwich with a tossed salad—the salad was good but unremarkable, but the sandwich was lovely: again hard to eat, because it's served open-face and the ingredients are chunky, but the classic combination of Greek flavors in the feta, artichoke hearts, olives, and herbs was just delightful and everything was cooked to perfection. I only wish I'd had the chance to try their Pumpkin Pudding, because it sounds divine.

Café Umbria
Picked as a random choice within walking distance of Powell's, this was a nice little café. Selection is limited, which made for only one vegetarian sandwich—but it's hard to go wrong with a mozzarella/tomato/basil panini and this one was far above average: it was perfectly cooked, the bread texture was wonderful, the ingredients were fresh, and best of all a touch of balsamic vinegar brushed on the bread gave it a punch of flavor that I don't usually see in this type of sandwich and really enjoyed. The staff seemed a little harried—perhaps it was a busy day—which dampened the atmosphere, but the food itself was quite satisfying.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Today Devon and I stopped by the local bakery/café and I had what they call chocolate sin. I've been phoning them and we've been stopping by, but it wasn't until today (after a month of trying) that they finally had it by the slice—it seems they offer it infrequently over the summer, but perhaps that's just coincidence. Chocolate sin is one of my favorite desserts. It is a flourless chocolate torte with whipped cream—flourless chocolate torte is as simple as chocolate, eggs, and butter, and it is everything that cake is not: rich and dense, flavorful and profoundly chocolate; the slightly sweetened whipped cream helps cut the density of both the flavor and texture, and so makes it a bit easier to eat. I am a purest, after all: chocolate needs little dilution, needs no other flavor, but it can be beautifully presented and prepared—this is that. It was amazing. It always is, but this time was particularly perfect.

Today I smell of coffee shops and used books, of Lurid Library (the incense-tinged scent of forbidden tomes and the musk-laden remnants of infernal servants) with just a touch of Miskatonic University (the scent of Irish coffee, dusty tomes and polished oakwood halls)—perhaps my favorite BPAL layering combination. It's the scent of poring over creamy, old parchment while drinking sweetened coffee, warm and ivory, non-foody but palatable, comforting and comfortable.

Today I am listening to S.J. Tucker's Neptune, from her new album Mischief.



And ah, it is beautiful.

In other words, today is a good day.

In fact, more and more days are so—I seem to be somewhat improved. I'm still a little subdued, a little moody, but this is as normal for me as breathing. I'm still a little incoherent—this particular downturn has been marked by a combined lack of will and lack of ability to deal with words, which has been unusual and unwelcome—but I'm finding it a little easier, day by day, to write and speak, and that I have more and more that I want to say. I'm still distracting myself with media consumption, but without the same sense of desperation. As always I am trying not to get my hopes up, so that if my mood takes another downturn I'm won't be disappointed. But I think it's safe to say that I'm crawling out of this funk. This is welcome.

I've missed a lot of congratulations and sympathies and simple interaction in my silence. If I've been ignoring you, I apologize! Know that I have been reading. There are some of you that I wish were here right now, to share this evening with me. Until then, you're in my thoughts.

Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today!
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I eat more chocolate than most people. More, darker, purer than most people. I won't touch anything below 60% cacao content, tend towards the 75-85% range, and have happily consumed the mid nineties. I prefer my chocolate in solid bars, but I have a bit of tolerance for inclusions like cocoa nibs or well-done flavors. I feast on single-origin chocolate.

There is no such thing as chocolate too dark, or too much chocolate. And if you believe that, then the following information may be of interest to you. Granted, this information is likely United States-centric. I'm not particularly educated in the way of chocolate—my opinions are mine own, and based only on personal experience. And if you don't eat dark chocolate, I can't help you—indeed perhaps no one can, you poor soul.

The best chocolate I've ever had is Trader Joe's Chocolate Palatte. It's a selection of eight squares of single origin dark chocolate from around the world. The chocolates range between 60-75% cocoa content, and the palette comes with a description of each selection. To my knowledge, it's only available around the winter holidays, and the selections vary a bit from year to year. If you find it, buy it (and mail it to me!). It's always worth it. These chocolates are dark but palatable (very high cocoa percentages can be hard and bitter, but these are smooth and moderately sweet, perfect for eating in any quantity, any time), smooth but never waxy, and each selection is unique. When they say "Tanzania: Subtle fruitiness with a fine hint of vanilla," they mean it: subtle but flavorful, each region's chocolate has its own unique character. As a result there's plenty of variety, and while Venezuela's grasses disappoint me, I think that the peppery bite of Ghana is the perfect chocolate—there is something here for everyone. (Here's 2008's palatte, with descriptions.)

(I like my chocolate bitter—sugar doesn't sit well with me, and I think that solid chocolate should reflect its bitter bean. However, single origins are perfect for infusing subtle flavor while preserving chocolate's true nature. I adore fruitiness and vanillic sweetness, which compliment bitter chocolate to make a well-rounded, palatable bar. But my favorite is pepper and spice, which capitalize on chocolate's inherent bitterness to give it a lovely bite. Outside of single origins, these rules don't apply: I dislike most fruit-flavored chocolate, and I'm not sold on spiced chocolate with the exception of hot peppers.)

Unfortunately the Trader Joe's palette isn't available all year, so I have to make do with other options. I've recently fallen in love with Green & Black's organic chocolate, and it's my second pick. When choosing a dark chocolate, tend towards organic and fair trade—not just because it's the ethical choice, but because these chocolates tend to be higher quality and are, or share qualities with, single origin chocolate. They taste better and have more character. Green & Black's does a lovely, creamy, organic dark chocolate—palatable, but as a trade-off missing some of chocolate's bite. I've only had a couple of their bars so far, but I'm sufficiently impressed to recommend them. Their flavored bars can be a bit strong (Maya Gold is the cloying culprit here), so chose with caution—but sometimes they do a remarkable job, and their Ginger bar is near perfection: the ginger is candied, which makes for a wonderful texture combination—a bit of crunch in the sugar and chewiness in the ginger, but finely chopped to preserve a smooth chocolate texture throughout.

(Chocolate and ginger is startling and wonderful combination, and if you've not tried it then you should. Along with the Green & Black's Ginger I've also had chocolate-dipped ginger, and don't know the maker or I would share, because they are wonderful: rich bites of chewy, fibrous ginger smoothed by dark buttery chocolate. Ginger isn't as sharp as you might think, especially with chocolate; instead, it has a clean, sweet, spiced flavor and a wonderful dense fiberous texture. It's a surprisingly lovely companion to chocolate.)

Before discovering Green & Black's I enjoyed—and I still recommend—Dagoba chocolate. Dagoba generally makes a darker, denser bar; the texture isn't quite as smooth as Green & Black, so it feels less skillful and indulgent. However, their sugar content tastes lower—making for a less palatable chocolate (in the easy-eating sense) which feels a bit more like "real" cocoa. They do a lovely solid dark bar, but my pick from Dagoba is their Xocolatl bar, which is textured with cocoa nibs and flavored with chili. It's a dry, crunchy, bitter, spicy bar that preserves a bit of sweetness and full-flavored fruitiness. It's beautiful and unique, and if you love spicy chocolate this is the bar for you.

I also recommend Scharffen Berger chocolate. It's not an exceptional chocolate and I've not explored much of their range, but their 70% cacao bar is a good, solid, dark chocolate. And I mean that literally: it's also used for baking, and it's thick and dense as a brick. It doesn't have a distinctive taste but it has a nice, deep, rich flavor and it's smooth without being too creamy or waxy. My folks stock this for baking, and I steal if for eating. It's not my first choice but it's a dependable, enjoyable option.

Meanwhile there's plenty of chocolate which I don't recommend—primarily Lindt. Lindt makes a smooth, dark bar and seems like a good idea—but it goes downhill from there. Lindt chocolate is flat and bland, altogether lacking personality, and its smoothness tends towards waxiness. Their darker bars have a lovely low sugar content, but the bland chocolate doesn't have any flavor to round out the bar—so they're bitter and featureless. The flavored bars have a lower cocoa content and more sugar; they start out well (their Chili bar in particular is promising), but end up excessively milky and sickly-sweet. These bars are readily available and they have a famous name and a beautiful image, but skip them—the chocolate itself is disappointing.

I don't recommend Ghiradelli chocolate either, for similar reasons—at least, I think so. It's been so long since I've eaten their chocolate that I barely remember just what factors lead to the apathy that made me search for a new chocolate bar. It's fair to say that their dark chocolate bars are featureless. They do a good balance of darkness vs. palatability, but the texture also leans towards waxy and simply put: a bland, unremarkable chocolate is not a chocolate worth eating.

On that note I also warn away from most commercial supermarket chocolates, even if they have a "dark" flavor. Dove's dark is waxy. Hersey's dark is gritty with sugar. Commercial dark chocolate is best preserved for commercial candy bars (mmmmm, Milky Way Dark). If you want real dark chocolate—dense, smooth, flavorful quality stuff which will do more than satisfy a sugar craving and actually fulfill a need for the darkest cocoa—invest in a specialty bar. The increased cost and decreased accessibility more than pay off, because these bars will last you through more than one sitting and they won't leave you still hungry for real chocolate.

No doubt there are brands that I've not tried—and I'm welcome to suggestions—but discovering Green and Black's has had these thoughts on my mind and so I thought I'd share. I wrote it over the weekend when no one read's LJ, so I shall post in now on a weekday when someone might. On a similar note, a few weekends ago I wrote a post on dealing with chronic lower back pain—information from my experience which may provide advice for yours. If that may be helpful to you, have at!

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juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
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