One of my mom's favourite quotes went as follows: "When I left for college, I thought my father was the dumbest man I knew. But when I returned from college after four years, I was amazed how much he had learned in four years." (Mark Twain)
Don't you love it? Each time I hear it it makes me remember that astonishing moment when I thought for the first time that my parents may in fact have a point, and were not just out-of-touch uncool dinosaurs sent to make my life a misery. My parents, in particular my father, were full of quirks of the kind that would baffle a kid's mind. For example, when I was very little, my dad used to play Edith Piaf and Nat King Cole on the state-of-the-art 8-track player in his car. Nobody else that I knew had a father who listened to funny music in a language nobody could understand and as a result I thought my father was clearly insane. It was only years later that I realised how achingly cool this suave doctor in his Aston Martin with Edith Piaf playing must have seemed in my fairly provincial hometown in the 1970s.
As a child, you always knew what chocolate meant. It was the light brown, tongue-coatingly sweet stuff that came wrapped around things like Marshmallow Eggs, Caramello Bears, Sweetie Pies, Crunchies or Lunch Bars. It was not challenging or sophisticated or clever, and always hit the spot. But in my house, chocolate was a little different. Sure, my brother and I ate all the sweets listed above (in fact my dad always bought us a Sweetie Pie each when he went to get the Sunday papers – although at the time they were packaged to resemble bee hives). But the chocolate you were most likely to find at home was not milk but dark chocolate. You see, my father was hooked on the stuff. He could quietly sit and devour a whole bar by himself, slowly and deliberately, over the course of an afternoon – as long as it was dark chocolate. Often my friends would visit, spy the silver chocolate wrapper on the kitchen counter and make a grab for it. But as soon as they saw it was dark, bitter chocolate, they would lose interest. At the time it was to us kids yet another example of my parents' exasperating weirdness in a world where conformity was our only aim. And yet now, years later, I also only eat dark chocoalte.
Although I have always been a huge fan of Easter egg hunts, for me the fun was always in the hunting and not the eating. This means that I seldom bother buying Easter eggs these days: if the Easter bunny is not going to hide them around the house for me then what's the point? But when the lovely people at Hotel Chocolat offered me a luxury extra thick chocolate Easter egg to try, I figured that opening the packaging would be a reasonable substitute for an egg hunt. Moving with the times and all, you know? Besides, this was not to be your run-of-the-mill, overly sweet cheap chocolate – they promised dark chocolate with cocoa nibs, filled with their signature truffles and caramels. How could I say no?
The Serious Dark Fix extra thick chocolate egg is made from their 70% cocoa house dark chocolate and is indeed studded with crunchy cocoa nibs – and when they say thick, they mean it! It's wonderful, high-quality stuff and I love the nutty crunch of the cocoa nibs. Inside the 2 individually wrapped halves is a selection of their lovely lovely filled dark chocolates including ultra smooth pralines, rum and single malt whisky truffles, chilli pralines, and plain and coffee liquid caramels. The 5-second chilli is still a favourite, although it is now getting serious competition from the coffee liquid caramel (a mouthful of heaven) and Nick adores the properly boozy truffles.
If you still want to order one of these for yourself or for a special friend, delivered in time for Easter, you still have until 4pm on Thursday to place your order on the Hotel Chocolat website! And if the egg does not grab you, have a look at their selection of other chocolate Easter gifts.
I am also thrilled and honoured to announce that Hotel Chocolat is one of the proud sponsors of the Plate to Page workshop which I will be hosting together with Meeta, Ilva and Jamie in Weimar next month. Lucky participants are in for an indulgent chocolate surprise when they peek inside their goodie bags! Thank you, Hotel Chocolat
Don't forget that this month I am hosting the Monthly Mingle, my darling sister Meeta's monthly event. The theme is Topless Tarts and you have until 30 April to get your entries to me! Full details are available on my announcement post.