Originally Published in The Single Hound, Summer 2011
My feet automatically slowed down, as I got closer to the black antique cast iron bicycle that signals the chocolate shop, Hotel Chocolat, on Newbury Street: Boston’s posh street. The store beckoned me inside. Walking into this long and narrow treasure chest someone greeted me with a silver tray of samples to taste. On that particular day they had milk chocolate with caramel bits. I stopped, took a bite and let the roof of my mouth spread the molten chocolate over every taste bud like a spatula. At that very moment I fully understood why the Greeks called it “the food of Gods.” Then I continued strolling slowly through the store while crunching on the caramel bits, chocoholic eyes twinkling with every colorful package of exotic creation I noticed. Ooh Champagne truffles. What is this? Cocoa nibs with balsamic vinegar? Cocoa pasta? Imagine a cocoa penne fruit salad or penne with chocolate sauce.
My slow and deliberate promenade brought me to a room at the end of the store where they hold chocolate tastings. Oh my God! Oh my God! Making every effort to behave like a thirty-something year old adult instead of a child on Christmas morning, I peered through the glass door.
A friendly attendant invited me into this room and proceeded to explain the service as I watched her prepare a set up for two on the rustic low set table: one wine glass and multiple small white square plates per person. She carefully wiped every piece with a white cloth before placing it on the table. Cacao beans filled a tall glass box in one corner of the room. Two pregnant cacao berries adorned the table. These bodacious beauties in golden amber, lying on the table effortlessly, were in their way nudging us to say, this decadent delight you are about to experience has come a long way since its conception. The whimsical little pink and green dress hanging on the wall was reminiscent of a little girl who might just ignore the nudge as if to say, who wants to bother with details.
“Spare me the specifics and give me the delicious treats please.”
I wondered who would be in the tasting room that night. Perhaps a couple on their first date. I imagined him coming up with the idea to impress her even though it may not be his favorite activity. He sits nervously across the table from his beautiful girl dressed in a fancy outfit, intoxicated by her fragrant hair, trying to appear calm and talk about topics that might interest her.
Maybe it is set up for a more established couple in need of a fresh activity to break the monotony. She remains cold and aloof as he boasts about his victorious game of golf.
Ah, but it could be for two girlfriends who are just in heaven as they sit down and anticipate the arrival of the multitude of tastes and smells while telling each other what a great idea this was a hundred times over.
With these thoughts still in my head, I walked out dreaming about the magical possibilities deliciously served at Hotel Chocolat.