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:

Amedei Chuao
Amedei Porcelana
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.

13 thoughts on “February 7, 2007

  1. Joe, I’ve seen both First Strike and Bounty now, and can’t fathom how the same writing team could possibly put out both. The one is so patiently and artfully done without the slightest hint of melodrama or cliche, and the other is bathed in rote, sterotypical drivel. First Strike restored my faith in the franchise yesterday, only to have it savagely struck down by Bounty this morning. What gives? Do all Mitchell episodes come with the qualifier that they must suck something fierce? Help me understand, because I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    Confusedly yours,
    William Heap

  2. Well, as long as he knows. 😉

    Yes! I knew chocolate was good for ya. It’s too bad though, dark chocolate’s too bitter for me, so I always go with the lighter…ok, white chocolate, which I’m guessing is quite useless at making one healthy. Oh well, it still tastes good.

    And here’s a question, if you don’t mind: when does shooting for Season 4 of Atlantis start?


  3. Hi Joe

    I love the stargate franchise and I have watched every episode that has aired in Belgium. I do have a couple of questions. Why did you guys came up with a new enemy from outside our galaxy for season nine? Don’t get me wrong, I still watch the episodes and I almost have every season on dvd. But I find it annoying that for new villains, they have to come from another galaxy. I personally would find it interesting to explore the aftermath of the goa’uld downfall and the several factions trying to come to power. The Lucian alliance could have been a formidabl foe like the Genii of Stargate Atlantis. Plus the many people who might still follow the Goa’uld as gods could also be great to explore. My other problem with the whole Ori story arc is, that if the Alterans (the ancients) originally came from the Ori galaxy, why did they stop in the Ida galaxy where the Asguards live to finally settle down in our galaxy?
    My other question is that of the first episode of season 3 of Atlantis where Sheppard is taken prisoner by the Wraith, but Michael frees him from his guards. Why is it that the Wraith couldn’t tell that Michael was lying, if they communicate telepathically?
    Thns for listening.

  4. I thought Bounty was brilliant. Why because it’s the first time the writing team of SG1 took the risk and did something that focused on Mitchell and Vala. Large kudos go to Ben Browder and Claudia Black for making this possible. Not for one moment did I see a hint of their Farscape characters. Everything was totally Mitchell and Vala…something I wasn’t sure they would be able to pull off if left to do a lot of scenes with just them together.

    It showed that Ben Browder and Claudia Black are truly talented actors who can do know how to bring different characters to life with ease.

    On an SGA note, I have a question. I keep reading some places were fans are saying Amanda Tapping will be recurring guest star and I’ve read other indications that she will be considered a regular cast member.

    So my question is will Amanda be added to the regular cast with her name in the credits or will she be listed as a guest star whenever she appears on SGA?



  5. Okay fine it was decided that Carson needed to be killed off to “shake things up” because some people were worried that the show was going to get canceled. I’m not going to argue about that because THAT arguement could go on forever…

    On the other hand – if Carson had to be killed off why couldn’t it have been connected to the previous plot threads with Micheal – as in having Carson be killed by Micheal in revenge for making him human instead of something totally random?

  6. Hi Joe,

    maybe I missed it – but didn’t you say you wanted to give a special mention to the fan who sent you the stuffed Angora cat?


  7. I’m not particular fond of exotic food myself, but… mmmmmmmh, chocolate is to die for.

    It’s understandable that you don’t know about DVD or HD specific details, but can you say whether you or the other producers have been approached yet to do DVD audio commentaries for seasons 10 and 3? Surprisingly, there haven’t been any announcements for this year’s European individual DVDs yet, so I can’t check for myself.

  8. hi

    maybe i’m person number 100 to ask that question, but will torri’s character be kicked out of the show because elizabeth is not military?
    you could do all of us a huge favour by answering this single question.

    thanks for all previous sg1 and sga episodes.


  9. I’m sure my favorite chocolate has no health benefits and certainly does not help me lose weight. In fact, you can’t even eat that many of them in one sitting — god knows I’ve tried. And I’m not even sure they are still in existence, now that Marshall Fields is no longer in existence.

    But there is nothing like Frango Mints, which is made from a blend of chocolates so it isn’t dark and it isn’t milk, but it’s its own somewhere in between. When I used to go home to Chicago to visit relatives at Christmas, I’d have to bring a empty suitcase to fill with boxes of Frango Mints to bring back to almost everyone that I knew that either was from Chicago or lived there for a while. And Marshall Fields would put Frango Mint stations all around the stores at Christmas, and each one of them would be packed with lines of customers.

    Yes, we could have ordered our Frango Mints online or over the phone but then our sugar and weight control instincts would have kicked in and prevented us.

    For years, until one of the organizers died and the other took a TV job back in Chicago, we had a party once a year in LA called Windy City West, where all the people in the Entertainment Industry would gather to mingle and eat specialty Chicago foods flown in for the occasion. I got to chat with people with whom I’d never normally walk in their circles, but really our interest was in the food we missed.

    Usually there would be food left over and many of us would take doggie bags home. Almost everyone would take home paper cups stuffed with Frango Mints.

    One year, the plane bringing in the Frango Mints was delayed and you never saw so many adults turn into children… the most asked question of the night? When are the Frango Mints coming?

    I used to tease my Dad when we’d go shopping at Marshall Fields that if I didn’t go back to LA with a box of Frango Mints for my showrunner, he’d probably fire me off the show. He stopped going to Windy City West when they upped the cost $10 one year — it still was cheap for what we were getting, but I know I even gulped at that price hike — I think that they should have raised it in $5 increments over two years.

    Anyway, once he stopped going, I had to bring home two paper cups of Frango Mints — one for him and one for me.

    Eventually, we moved on to different shows, and I called him to tease him that I had Frango Mints on my desk from the Windy City West party the night before. Too bad he didn’t work with me because I would share them with him. Do you know that he sent over a PA from his show to pick them up?

    Sigh, I miss my Frango Mints. As far as I’m concerned, there is no chocolate like them. I used to even have them on my Amazon.com Wish list for family and friends to buy me, but no more…

  10. hi, joe,

    i’m not just a broken record, i’m one stuck in a loop.

    please let the sam/jack storyline *proceed* and become a relationship. 10 years of ‘we’re getting there’ should lead ‘there’.

    k, now i’ve got two questions that i’ve been interested in hearing your answers to.

    1 – if you know, what teams did amanda and rick root for in the superbowl? (mom and dad are from chicago)

    2 – what is your favorite starbucks drink? (i work there)

    sally 🙂

  11. Joe:

    Thanks for posting all the information about the benefits of dark chocolate. It’s always been my favorite over milk or white chocolate. Even as a type 2 diabetic, I’m allowed to eat a bit of dark chocolate everyday:) That makes me very happy.

    So now as the responsible showrunner for SGA, you need to make sure your cast and production crew stays healthy by keeping lots of dark chocolate on the set for them to eat. Oh and don’t forget to keep the reporters who come to visit and do interviews healthy as well by having dark chocolate on hand for them;)


  12. Dark chocolate + cherries + chilis (as in chili peppers)

    i received a chocolate bar in the mail at work on Monday that contained those ingredients. I can’t remember the name of the company that made it, but it was a local company (Dallas). We Texans, after all, tend to place chili peppers in a number of things, including contact lens solution and burn cream.

    Seriously though, the taste was a bit odd, but not unpleasant. I was only able to talk one of my staff members into trying it; the rest politely declined. I cannot say I blame them, considering it was a chocolate bar sent through the mail unsolicited. Methinks perhaps they are smarter than I.

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