A guy at work claims to have lost fifteen pounds on the “chocolate diet“. And I believe him. I believe him because, in the 3+ months I’ve trimmed down, I’ve done so while eating at least a square of chocolate a day. Now before you all head off to enjoy your prime rib with a side of Toblerone, I should warn you that milk chocolate won’t do the job. It’s got to be dark. In fact, the darker the better.
About a year ago, I read a book called The Chocolate Connoisseur by Chloe Doutre-Roussel, a former buyer for Fortnum & Mason in London and head of confectionary at Paris’s Laduree. The book offers a fascinating history of chocolate, an account of the chocolate-making process, and a guide to chocolate-tasting. Turns out chocolate is the new wine, possessed of a multitude of complex and subtle nuances that offer reminiscent of a given bar’s origins. Valrhona’s Palmiro, for instance, offers notes of nuts and honey, suggestive of its earthy beginnings on the Palmira Plantation in Venezuela. Domori’s Apurimac, on the other hand, has notes of cream, caramel, and flowers which are reflective of its source: the valley of Apurimac river in Peru. Everything from the type of cocoa plant(s) to the home country and region, the percentage of cocoa to the intricacies of production impact a given chocolate and contribute to its uniqueness. The book is a captivating read for many reasons, not the least of which its overview of the health benefits of eating chocolate. The Chocolate Connoisseur and ensuing research suggests that eating a little dark chocolate once a day can be a very, very, VERY good thing.
Recent studies suggest that the consumption of dark chocolate has beneficial effects on lowering blood pressure. It improves blood vessel elasticity, allowing improved response to changes in blood stream. It contains antioxidants (four times more than the amount found in green tea or blueberries) that block arterial damage caused by free radicals and may fight off heart disease by battling LDL (bad cholesterol) oxidation. Its bioactive compounds (theobromine, tryptophan, and anandamine to name a few) help promote alertness, reduce pain sensitivity, and promote relaxation.
I was sold! I went from an average, run-of-the-mill chocoholic to an informed chocolate snob. I special ordered chocolates from around the world: Amedei and Domori from Italy, Pralus and Michel Cluizel from France, Hachez from Germany, Satander from Colombia, El Rey from Venezuela. I did my homework, educated myself, and hosted a Chocolate Soiree in which I brought in specialty filled chocolates and truffles from across Canada and the U.S.: Vosges from Chicago, Pierre Marcolini and Christopher Norman from New York, Chocolats Genevieve Grandbois from Montreal, and Vancouver’s own DC Duby. I hired the owner of Yaletown’s Chocoatl, the affable and incredibly knowledgeable Themis, to offer my guests a Chocolate Tasting 101 complete with wine and port pairings and dark and milk chocolate fountains. It was such a success that I’ve already begun planning the next one.
When shopping for dark chocolate, aim for anything with 70% cocoa content or higher. Check the ingredients. They should go something like this: cocoa, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla, and lecithin (which is acceptable). Avoid any artificial flavors and make sure that the chocolate is made with vanilla and not vanillin.
Finally, if you’re looking to broaden your dark chocolaty horizons, I’d suggest you check out these best of the bests:
Hachez Classic “Cocoa d’Arriba” Bar
Michel Cluizel 1er Cru de Plantation Hacienda “Los Ancones”
Valhrona Limited Edition Chuao
Valhrona Limited Edition Ampamakia
Ever since my chocolate obsession started, the writers’ room has gone without. It’s now a traditional end of lunch digestive.
Speaking of lunch, one place that makes the top of our “to order from” list is Burgers, Etc. which offers a variety of carnivore-friendly menu items including pulled pork, roast beef dips, and brisket sandwiches. I’m a sucker for their spicy chicken salad (pictured). Alex Levine was kind enough to bring in assorted rugelach for everyone. The chocolate-walnut version was exceptional.
Checking the mail…
Peter writes: “…if it isn’t that much of a chore, could you please inform Martin Gero that he is a God?”
Answer: I don’t need to tell Martin because HE reminds US of this fact every day.
In reference to A Christmas Story being my favorite Canadian movie, Wurlitzer153 writes: “I’d like to point out that about half of this movie was filmed here in Cleveland, Ohio.”
Answer: It is also, coincidentally, my favorite Clevlandian movie.
Ivona writes: “What kinda food you wanna but haven’t tried yet?”
Answer: I almost tried haggis a week or so ago as it was available at our local butcher – but the fact that I would have to steam it myself steered me clear. If it had been pre-cooked, I’d have given it a shot. Oh, well. Maybe I’ll wait until Paul McGillion cooks up a batch and then just drop by unexpectantly.
Bugguy writes: “When will the next season air? Either on Sky, Scifi, or Movie Central/Network?”
Answer: Season four should air on all of the above. As for when – that has yet to be decided.
Anonymous writes: “…what are a couple of your favorite scenes from the episodes in the latter two seasons?”
Answer: Loved the ending or Prototype where Mitchell and Daniel take out Khalek. The last scene of Camelot where Vala looks out the window of the Ori ship and surveys the destruction wrought. The Fraiser/Landry scene in Ripple Effect in which Fraiser questions why Landry’s reality should be any more important than hers. Vala’s rorschach test in Morpheus. The Mitchell/Landry scene in Uninvited in which Landry shows off his birdcalling abilities – much to Mitchell’s horror. The Farscape take-of in 200. The, uh, not so subtle broadside at a certain show’s premature cancellation in Family Ties – numerous times. A couple of scenes in Unending that I can’t reveal without spoiling it for everyone.
D writes: “…will there be any great scene(s) between Sam, Daniel, and Teal’c in the last episode?”
Answer: There will be a multitude of great scenes between various characters in the season 10 finale.
Anonymous writes: “Do you know if the season will ever be release in HD?”
Answer: It should be. Unfortunately, I’m not privy to the DVD release dates.
Marla writes: “I could have sworn that Michael Shanks said in either a convention appearance or a magazine interview that his youngest daughter Mia had a small part in a season 10 episode. If this is correct and I am remembering rightly could you tell us which episode that is and if it’s been aired yet either in the UK or the USA?”
Answer: To be perfectly honest, I have no idea.
Majorsal writes: “…is there going to be a ‘sam ep’ in season 4?”
Answer: All of our characters will get a spotlight episode in the front half of season four.