Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Giving Chocolate Thanks

Things are still going well on the dating front - I know this is so not as juicy as all my disaster stories! But have faith, dear readers, either one of two things will happen - things will work out well enough that I can tell funny stories about my relationship with this man (we just can't scare him off yet) or the whole thing will go up in flames and I'll be back out there. Oh God. Let's light a candle at the Church of Chocolate and hope that doesn't happen again. At least not for a while. Hell, while we're at it, let's munch on a communion wafer or two. Maybe start some holy fondue.

Let's examine the Seven Suggestions in a little more depth.

If you'll remember, Suggestion One is about gratitude.

One of the best things to do when you feel blue is be grateful for what you do have. Actually this is one of the best things you can do anytime, but it's especially effective as a pick-me-up (or a pick-you-up...you know what I mean!). Everybody has those days when they feel a little low. Usually what you do is obsesses over what you feel you're lacking - a job, love, a great body - whatever the heck is it that day. This does no good and just makes you feel worse. Then you progress to comparing yourself to everyone else who seems to have those things - and you are off to the pity party! This spiral takes you away from chocolate heaven and down to emotional hell.

So I hope you'll join me in expressing a little gratitude.

The awesome Diane Fain-Worthen (she of the gorgeous red scarf and the Vann's Chocolates) hooked me up again! Diane, I don't know how you knew I would need this, but you did! Diane sent a box with some delicious home made cookies (which I devoured before I even thought about taking a picture of them - cookies have that effect on me), and this cute magnet and the best smelling lip gloss EVER! The flavor is chocolate dipped strawberry. And it's sexy too! (Now that I have someone to share this with, I'm pretty excited!)

How sweet was that of Diane to think of me? Diane, you're the best!!!! (And there is SO a place in Chocolate Heaven for you!)

And last week I spoke for the Mid Day Professionals Chapter of the ABWA (American Business Women's Association). Now these women have been great fans and friends since I started FireStar and they have set me up with speaking engagements many, many times. I don't think I can ever thank them enough. Toby Page sent me those great Seattle Chocolates (blogged about earlier) and this time she brought me some Wilbur Buds:

Cool box! I've reviewed Wilbur Buds before, but how sweet is Toby?? She also is the cutest human alive.

At this same meeting, Gwen Taylor showed up with two boxes from Mama Laura's Chocolates. The website is http://www.mamalauras.com/.

I have three words for these chocolates - OH MY GOD! The caramel (upper left) was so smooth and creamy and gooey, it should be outlawed. The others are truffles and are filled with the smoothest, creamiest dark and milk chocolate ganache you can imagine. And the second box had turtles which I'll blog about next. (They are so good, they would be considered a sin in several religions, but not ours!!! I actually think our first Saint may indeed be St. Mama Laura).

I just want to give thanks for such great friends. None of them had to go out of their way to do these things. They just have hearts of gold. They didn't even know I was making myself a Priestess when they gave me these gifts, so they weren't trying to buy their way into Chocolate Heaven. But, hey, wait - three wise women bearing gifts.....OMG - it's our first chocolate miracle!!

May the chocolate be with you.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Church of Chocolate

Good grief - I have been such a blogging slackard! My apologies!! Last week was Administrative Professionals' Week and it's always a busy one for me. I gave away enough chocolate in my seminars to stimulate not only the candy industry, but also the medical and diet industries. I take full credit for any uptick in the Dow.

I also have a challenge in my chocolate mission. It's been pretty warm here in North Carolina and hauling lots of chocolate around is no easy feat. You stop for gas and you better put your car in the shade. Never have I thought so much about heat, timing, and sunlight. I need a chocolate roadie (or an acolyte).

I have been thinking more about expanding my sphere of chocolate influence. I really do like the idea of being the High Priestess of the Church of Chocolate. Robes of brown seem to be the only option as far as my priestess garb - although we'll go for something like silk, not sack cloth. This religion clearly is not going to be about suffering. I also think my hat should be in the shape of a Hershey's Kiss. But not made of foil like I'm trying to ward off the alien mind readers, more like something between a crown and a mitre.

Maybe this shape - but with a ribbon coming out of the top just like the little tag on the Kisses. And encrusted with shiny chocolate wrappers. There's gotta be a little glam.

Now before anyone freaks out, let's look at the definition of religion:

A religion is an organized approach to human spirituality which usually encompasses a set of narratives, symbols, beliefs and practices, often with a supernatural or transcendent quality, that give meaning to the practitioner's experiences of life through reference to a higher power or truth.[1] It may be expressed through prayer, ritual, meditation, music and art, among other things. It may focus on specific supernatural, metaphysical, and moral claims about reality (the cosmos and human nature) which may yield a set of religious laws, ethics, and a particular lifestyle. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and religious experience.

Now I see no reason why chocolate can't fall into this category. Obviously this whole blog uses chocolate as a way to "give meaning to the practitioner's experiences of life." And there have indeed been times when I felt that chocolate was a higher power.

So, I need to get organized, but I can assure you I will not be making any moral claims and we will have no religious "laws." Suggestions, yes - laws, no. In fact, now that I have my ceremonial garb, let's move on to the Seven Suggestions, the foundation of our religion.

The Seven Suggestions

1. Thou shall not take chocolate (or anything else) for granted.

The Church of Chocolate is all about gratitude. Being grateful for all those who came before and figured out how to make this heavenly substance from random beans. Being grateful we live in a world where we can readily obtain some of the most amazing chocolate available. Being grateful for all those who make it for us and package it and ship it. Being grateful we are able to earn the money to purchase the chocolate. Being grateful we are healthy enough to eat the chocolate. Being grateful for all of those friends who give us chocolate (or time or attention). This process can go on and on and on. Each of us is so very, very fortunate. At the Church of Chocolate we come together to celebrate all we have, not bemoan all we feel we lack.

2. Thou shall savor.

This is a suggestion that you slow the heck down and actually enjoy your life. When you eat chocolate (or any other food), you would use all your senses, you actually focus on it. You notice the way the chocolate melts in your mouth. (Thus the chocolate communion wafers.) You are not talking on your cell phone and driving while you eat. You are in the moment. You do not do this just with food, but with many things - conversation, music, the weather. You actually see the person you are speaking with. You take the time to feel the sun on your face or the breeze in your hair. You revel in all the juice of life.

3. Thou shall not settle.

You know that your days on this earth are limited. You know that you can take the easy way out or with more effort, you can have something you really want. You can eat that leftover Halloween candy or you take your lazy self to the drugstore and get a chocolate bar you adore. You can just stay in the job you hate or you can work hard and find something you love. Members of the Church of Chocolate always want to make the most of their lives. They are not perfect, but they will not give up.

4. Thou shall be happy.

The Church of Chocolate is all about being happy. And you get to define happiness for yourself. We don't want you to come to Church if you don't want to. We only want you to come if it makes you happy. We do not think you get more chocolate if you suffer more. We think happiness is a chocolate magnet and those who are happy actually draw chocolate to them. We want to help you learn how to manage your own happiness - it's one of the few things we believe you have control over.

5. Thou shall practice moderation.

While we believe that chocolate is a higher power, we know that eating too much chocolate is not a good thing. There's is a point in the eating of chocolate at which it no longer tastes so good, a point at which you are full. Then there's the point at which you are sick. This is chocolate desecration. Moderation is an art which we are learning to practice at the Church of Chocolate (C of C). Most of tend to want it all, to want it now, and to want it in mass quantities. This leads us into all kinds of bad places - debt, addiction, obesity. At the C of C we just want you to stop while it's all still good.

6. Thou shall accept responsibility for thine own self.

This is an important tenant of the C of C faith. We believe you are about as happy and fulfilled as you decide to be. We believe that, for the most part, you will reap what you sow. We believe that blaming someone else for where you are is giving your power away and makes you a victim. Even if someone else wronged you, you get to decide whether that will devastate you or make you stronger. You will not count on anyone, not even the Church of Chocolate, to bail you out. You will know, at the end of the day, your best resource is you.

7. Thou shall laugh.

If it's not fun, why would you ever come to the C of C? Chocolate and life is all about fun. If we are going to expect you to stand up and take charge of your destiny, we're certainly going to provide some fun along the way. Most members of the C of C expect extraordinary things from themselves. We have to remind them (and the Holy Hat of Hershey can only help with this), that's it's okay to have fun. It's okay to not take everything so seriously. That beating yourself up does not make you a better person. That laughter really is the best medicine and we don't laugh nearly enough. In fact, if you DON'T laugh and smile, we will excommunicate you.

Can I get an amen?

I'll also take a "hell yeah", "Chocolate Rules", and just about anything else you'd like to shout out. As long as the spirit moves you.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Is Relaxation Evil?

As anyone who has been following this blog knows, I have some issues. One issue I often struggle with is being idle. (Or as some might say - relaxing). I always feel like I should be doing something - working (when you work for yourself there is ALWAYS something you could be doing) or working out. Cleaning out my garage. Reading one of the millions of books I own but have yet to read. Obviously I have PLENTY to do. I confess, sitting around doing nothing seems like some kid of sin to me.

Now I'm not saying I'm always productive - I have streched an ab workout combined with watching CSI NY and going through catalogs into a marathon of half-assedness. I just am not good at doing nothing. And this is not necessarily a good thing.

For example, I'm at the Grove Park Inn - one of my favorite places in all the world. (You may remember I purchased a two night stay as a welcome home for Afghanistan Man.) Well, I had to use it by the end of May and it can only be used on a Sunday through Thursday. So I thought I'd come out during the Festival of Flowers at Biltmore and schedule a couple spa treatmants and give myself an early birthday present. After all, who better deserves the trip than I?

I scheduled spa treatments for today and drove up yesterday with the intention of seeing the Biltmore Gardens. It poured all day. I relaxed in my room, read through a bunch of magazines that had been piling up at my house and just, well, relaxed. I felt incredibly guilty the entire time. I thought I should be seeing the gardens, I should be answering e-mail, I should be working out - what is wrong with me???

I just didn't want to. It was a rainy Sunday, I was in a gorgeous hotel in the beautiful North Carolina mountains. I did nothing.

Today I did work out and did about 30 minutes of work, but I've been hanging out at the spa all day. Still didn't go to Biltmore. Part of the reason is that my car (in the dark, cool parking garage is PACKED with chocolate for two Motivation by Chocolate sessions this week.) I was too lazy to haul it all in so I could drive to the Biltmore and leave my car in the hot sun.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I think a lot of you are like me. We find it really hard to relax - we work ourselves to death so we can have "fun" but when it comes time to have fun, we don't really let ourselves enjoy it. I think technology has made this worse. (Hell, I'm blogging right now instead of going all zen and meditating or something!)

I have to tell myself it's okay. It's okay for me to spoil myself - I worked hard for the cash to pay for this trip - I deserve a little R & R. I have to remind myself that there will always be more work - another mailing I could send out, another call I could make. But there will not always be more life. I could die in a car crash tomorrow. Would I have rather spent today working or getting a much needed massage? And the Grove Park Inn is truly one of the most beautiful places in the world - check it out:

I just want to remind you all not to be so hard on yourselves. It's okay to stop and smell the roses (or not - I never did get to the Biltmore). It's okay to let life unwind instead of trying to control everything all the time. And you deserve some down time. The work, the messy garage, the e-mail will all still be there for you to tackle tomorrow. But sometimes we need to listen to waterfalls, to birdsong, and to just relax. The real world is a gorgeous place - we have to be still sometimes to remember.

But don't worry - there was still chocolate! When I got my pedicure (ah - I love those!!), they offered me champagne and chocolate. I passed on the champagne, but NEVER on chocolate!

How cute is this container?

And better yet - these were inside:

I'm sure I'll be going to hell for this (but we've already established I'm probably going there anyway so why get all holy now?). These are like Communion Wafers - the way they should be. I so want to start the Church of Chocolate and give these out! I could be the High Priestess! We could go on holy trips to Switzerland and Hershey, PA. I could wear one of those cool hats like the Pope! I could carry a staff topped by a Hershey's Kiss!

Apparently a little relaxation goes straight to my head.

Anyway, these little wafers ROCK!!! They are amazing chocolate and have a thin filling in them. They are incredible! They are so good, I had to Google the chocolater listed on the liner:


I am SO going to order some of these - they look great and the ones I tried really were amazing. You know they were good if I'm thinking of starting a Church.

I'm sure that thought will pass after I get my massage.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Everyday Can be a Holiday!

Hi Gang! I hope you had a great weekend! I am still sad about the passing of Easter, but to cheer myself up, I decided to revisit Valentine's Day. Remember all that half price candy I bought? Well, I sampled some this weekend and so far, all I can say is, "Thank God I didn't pay full price."

Two of the hearts I bought were from Elmer's Chocolates and Guinevere Chocolatier both from New Orleans. I'd never tried any of their chocolate before, so I was very curious. Well, well, well - guess what? These two are the same company. They have two different websites and try to look like different companies, but their chocolates are EXACTLY the same. And they are so not good. What they have are strawberry and orange creme (glack!), caramel (too sweet, not chewy - somewhere between too soft and not soft enough), chocolate raspberry truffle. The exact same flavors, the exact same shapes - the same damn company! Boo!

This heart I picked for its sexy color combo:

Very glam - I liked it. I liked the box WAY better than the chocolate. (This was by Riviera Brands out of Deerfield, IL - but I have no idea if they just distribute or actually make the chocolate. And after eating this, I don't even care.)

First of all, I think if you sell an assortment of 18 chocolates, there should be more than three flavors. Boo!!!! Secondly, well, these were just bad. Waxy chocolate, too sugary, no depth of flavor at all. In fact, the best thing about these was they really made me appreciate all the great chocolate I've gotten to sample. I've learned more about great chocolate by tasting bad chocolate! These all were so sugary and so waxy, chocolate was the last thing you tasted. They really made me appreciate the subtlety of many of the chocolatiers reviewed here.

It's kind of like dating - sometimes you don't realize how much you like someone until you go out with someone who is not them!

Speaking of dating, I'm still seeing the man I like, things still seem to be going okay. I know, scary, right? I'm still on match.com although my heart's not in it. But I don't want to take my profile down if his is still up - argh! See how complicated dating is, my married friends?

But then again, it's like the bad chocolates - the right guy for me will SO not have fun on dates with other women. And you can't lock someone down anyway - either they want to be with you or they don't. I mean, Russell Stover may try to win my heart, but I go back to Hershey every time. And the more chocolate I eat, the more I love Reese's. The best way to get someone to stay with you (whether a friend, a lover or a customer) is by being who you are, letting them be who they are, and knowing that the right people will keep showing up.

Even if someone else is half price.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Butterfly Kisses

You gotta give Hershey's credit for expanding the Kiss line. And as the Bride of Chocolate, I'm all about chocolate kisses!!

Look at this adorable thing:

And the top of the box:

And look at the size of this baby in comparison to a regular Kiss:

This is a solid 200 calorie Kiss (a regular kiss has about 20 calories). It's not really anything other than a giant Kiss in a really cute box. Clever!

I found these two new Kiss flavors today:

You can see from the autopsy photo that these are like chocolate truffle Kisses. Gorgeous wrapper (you can't really tell from my picture, but the wrapper is really glam), smooth chocolately center. These should make regular Kisses obsolete. Seriously. Why bother with those things - these have a MUCH better chocolate taste. At some point the line has to be cannibalized. I mean how many different Kisses can the world consume?

And look at these:

These look pretty good in the autopsy photo, don't they? These are okay, but I think they could be better. I think the white chocolate needs a little something. It seems more waxy than creamy. I can't explain it, but these don't set me on fire as much as I thought they would.

Kisses now come in a TON of varieties - it really is amazing. I figure if Hershey can come up with a Kiss for everyone, there must be a Kiss out there for me!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Bride of Chocolate

Good grief. Four of my friends told me of their engagements yesterday. FOUR! What are the odds of that? Now if you are married this will probably seem like nothing, like something I should celebrate - and you are right, but it depresses me. It makes me wonder how everyone else seems to have so little trouble with this relationship thing and it just seems to kick my butt.

I'm not saying I'm out here pining away to be married - I'd just settle for a boyfriend. I mean a real boyfriend - not someone who is still shopping for an upgrade (ala the Afghanistan Affair). Big sigh.

Ah - but we all have our bad days, right? So what to do?

1.) Control what you can, let go of the rest. I'm doing all I can think of to put myself in a position to meet someone. That's about all I can do.

2.) Stop comparing!! I keep saying this and keep falling right back into it. I've been married before and if I just wanted to check the block, I'm sure I could find some poor guy to drag to the altar. But I don't want 1.) some poor guy or 2.) anyone I have to drag. I want a great guy who will be as happy to be with me as I am to be with him.

3.) Don't focus on what's missing. It's so easy for me to focus on the lack of romantic love in my life. And I miss the fact that I have work that I love, great friends, a world to explore, and chocolate!

4.) Be careful what you wish for. I know that you can be lonelier with the wrong person than when you are by yourself. I would rather be alone forever than trapped in a bad marriage.

5.) Don't settle. Everyone tells me I am too picky. But I can't force myself to fall in love with someone just to not be alone. It not fair to me or to him. Who wants to be with someone who doesn't really love them? Everyone deserves to be adored.

6.) Don't beat yourself up. This is the hard part - of course, I feel like there is something wrong with me. Whether it's the BP (Big Personality), the random silliness, the too direct communication or some other horrible thing - I am who I am. I have to believe that the right man will like me just the way I am. And let's face it, it's not like I can change any of these things anyway.

7.) Try to enjoy the journey. I have met a lot of great guys, a few nuts, and have probably broken more hearts than I will ever know. I need to try and enjoy the journey and remember that nothing worth having is ever easy to get. When I do find the right man (or he finds me), I'll truly appreciate him.

8.) There is always chocolate (or whatever your passion is). Chocolate has yet to lie to me, cheat on me, or flirt with other women. Chocolate even commits! I love chocolate and chocolate seems to love me too. Maybe I AM engaged!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter, Italy, and Twitter

I have to tell you, I'm having a hard time letting Easter go. I still have Easter candy I have not blogged about. (Geez, I still have Valentine's Day candy I haven't blogged about.) My eyes are bigger than my blog.

I also have a twitter account which an increasingly large number of people are following me on. And I have yet to tweet. It's not that I don't have anything to say - anyone who knows me will tell you I have far too much to say. I just am overwhelmed by all the different electronic options. No tweet today, maybe tweet tomorrow.

Facebook is great, but also annoying. I don't want to be kidnapped, sent a virtual drink, or engaged in a virtual snowball fight (although there was a chocolate snowball that I found pretty funny). I love all the people that do these things and I don't want to not play, but for God's sake - I have to get some work done! How does the rest of the world do it? Between dealing with my e-mail, writing this nutty blog, actually working and let's not forget managing my match.com love life - I AM OVERWHELMED! My Facebook and Linked in accounts languish. I am a social media slackard. I'm sure my online connections think I'm a beeoch - I just can't handle it all. It's hard enough for me to stay focused. As you can see.

Back to Easter. I decided to dedicate my final Easter post to Italy. After all, they deserve it:

"The April 6 quake, the worst to hit Italy in three decades, killed more than 290 people and has left tens of thousands more homeless."

Can you imagine how terrifying that earthquake must have been? No way to escape, nowhere to hide - houses, streets crumbling around you? It's easy to forget things if they don't happen in your country/state/city/neighborhood. We're all pretty self absorbed. We're fascinated with ourselves. (Tweet, Tweet.)

The Italians have given us many gifts - especially in the realms of art and food. I have yet to visit Italy, but it is on my list. And I'm moving it up even higher after eating these Easter chocolates!!

The first I bought at Williams Sonoma, but they are made by Caffarel: http://www.caffarelkuwait.com/index.html

The song that plays when you go to their website is beautiful!! I have no idea what the words mean, but it is gorgeous! It MUST be about the love of chocolate - there really is no greater love.

See how pretty these are? Five different colors of paper wrapping three different colors of foil and three different flavors of chocolate egg. They are a treat to open! And because they are so carefully and beautifully packaged, you know they will be delish! This is a case in which you can judge the chocolate by its wrapper!

The three flavors are torroncino - this one was a challenge to find the translation of - many times it was referred to as an ice cream. But what it is (as far as I can tell) is almond paste with lemon flavor. It is really wonderful. The lemon is definitely noticeable but doesn't ruin the confection at all.

Gianduja (or, more commonly, gianduia) is a sweet chocolate containing about 50% hazelnut paste. It takes its name from Gianduja, a Carnival and marionette character who represents the archetypal Piedmontese, the Italian region where hazelnut confectionery is common. (Can you say Wikipedia?)

mandorla - this one is also an almond paste - tastes like almond extract which has always somehow reminded me of cherry. It was my favorite.

Now we're in the big league with these eggs - this ain't no Hershey or Mars. These are "traditional Italian Easter eggs created by and for chocolate connoisseurs." Oh hell yeah! Let me continue from the label: "An Italian Easter tradition, these exquisite chocolate eggs are created by a renowned Turin confectionery, founded in 1826 (we didn't even have chocolate in the US back then) by Pier Paul Caffarel. The bittersweet chocolate shells are made from couverture, produced using the finest South American and African cocoa beans. (I don't think there are any other kinds of cocoa beans, but hey, it sounds great!) Place these festive eggs in an Easter basket or scatter them on a table for a decorative Sunday brunch." Oh la la! Or get thee to Williams Sonoma and see if you can get some for 1/2 price and keep them all for yourself! Eggs this high speed should be wasted on no child. And no egg should be left behind.

All hail the Italians!!

Next up is this cutie from Vosges:

Not made in Italy, but this is Vosges Italian Bunny - and on the package he speaks "I enjoy the beautiful scenery of my native Sicily. My long ears help me hear very well and my large hind feet enable me to leap high. Nibble on my paw and you'll see that hazelnuts, almonds and deep milk chocolate run in my family! Buon Appetito!"

Not sure a chocolate bunny would actually encourage anyone to devour him, but hey, it's creative in a creepy kind of way. This is a solid gianduja bunny - made of almonds and carmelized hazelnut paste and deep milk chocolate. Now THAT rocks!!! Palmer and Russell Stover ain't got nuthin' on Vosges. What could be better than a chocolate rabbit with nuts? Why hasn't anyone thought of that? And isn't he just adorable?

So we finish Easter with a gourmet flourish and a tribute to a country that has given the world much beauty and pleasure. Send them good thoughts as they recover and rebuild and be grateful that your home is still standing and your loved ones are safe. We are much, much luckier than we ever realize or appreciate.

Here's to Italy, here's to chocolate and here's to you! (Just pretend that's a Tweet.)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Eve

Hey Gang!! It's the night before Easter and I have been eating WAY too much Easter candy. One of the cool things about being an adult is you don't have to wait for the Easter Bunny. Even if maybe you should.

Here are a few quick reviews. We'll start with something you just can't go wrong with - Reese's Rabbits! (Well, they are actually Mini Reester Bunnies (ouch), but I like Reese's Rabbits better):

They are cute - this guy looks funny because my bag got a bit melted - and they taste great. Not as good as the Reese's eggs in my book because there's not as much peanut butter, but a great choice nonetheless.

Caramello also has a bunny:

This bunny is cute as well (so cute he looks like the rodent version of Hello Kitty) but I think it's pretty weak on the caramel. Too little, too thin - get the amazing Cadbury caramel egg - pass on the cute bunny. (Sorry, cuteness just ain't enough when it comes to candy. I mean, I will complain if the wrapper isn't cute enough, but cuteness alone can't carry a candy. I think the only thing cuteness alone can carry is a pop star.)

I have to tell you, I really can't decide between these two:

I mean, there are differences - Hershey (on the right) is bigger and the candy coating has a different texture (smoother). But they are both good - I liked them both. You can't go wrong with either one. (Now these are not the German truffle eggs of Williams-Sonoma - but they are a cheap and good alternative). Hey - do kids really need German truffle eggs?

Here was a surprise - Snickers Sports Creme Egg:

Now I gotta tell you - I totally don't get the sports thing. Why a sports egg? Why are there tennis balls on this wrapper? What the hell is going on?

No clue - but this egg was GOOD!! Not what I expected (which was a Snickers bar in the shape of an egg) this was creamier and sweeter and delicious. You should try one! Eating a sports egg might be as close as I come to exercise on Easter.

Enjoy the day!! Have fun, eat some candy, practice your faith, celebrate spring - most of all - celebrate life.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Easter Secrets from Beyond the Grave

Okay - if anyone didn't know what the heck I was talking about in the last entry when I said - Okay - there's a robin CARRYING an egg! (Do you think that's an African or a European robin?) This was a reference to Monty Python and the Holy Grail - the whole coconut/swallow episode. My buddy Wally pointed out to me that he had no idea what I was talking about. Sorry - my brain works in very mysterious ways. Thanks, Wally!!

I'm going to have to figure how how to pace my candy reviews better. I have more Easter candy than I have time. And let's face it - who will care after Easter? Heck, I'm not sure who cares now!

But I have made some startling discoveries in today's batch of Easter treats. I've said it before and I'll say it again - the truth is in the autopsy. Let's start with Wonka's Golden Creme Egg:

So much for the illusion of Willie Wonka - there's Nestle stamped on the egg as clear as day. (Where's a good Ooompa Loompa when you need one?)

Now the wrapper describes this as "chocolate creme and caramel with graham flavored cookie pieces in a milk chocolate shell." But the autopsy reveals:

A sadly thin layer of caramel - a swipe really - I don't know where the "chocolate creme" is. See how thick the chocolate "shell" is? This is a lot like a Nestle Crunch bar - I couldn't really tell what the graham flavored cookie pieces were. Could have been graham flavored, could have been those rice crisp things. Not as good as the wrapper makes it sound.

If you want caramel, here's where to look:

Look how oooey, gooey and downright sensuous that is! (That's the best cut I could make, by the way - the caramel was exploding out of there.) That's the best caramel egg I've seen. Now, there's no exotic sea salt, this is ghetto caramel compared to all that, but it is damn good. I mean look at it!!!

Now before we go having the Cadbury Easter parade, I have a bone to pick with them. I loved the regular Cadbury creme egg and I had vivid memories of eating the white creme and the yellow yolk. So delish and so cool because it was like a real egg! So I was thrilled to find these:

The big egg was always a little much - I thought these would be perfect! But look what the autopsy revealed:

Do you see it?? Do you? The horror, the horror! That is ORANGE creme!! ORANGE! These are not supposed to be the orange creme eggs! I cut open a few more just to make sure. How can this be? Do I really have to cut all my candy open to make sure it is what it is supposed to be? The hell with pistachios - the FDA needs to get on this!

But just when you think all is lost:

Yahoo!!! Look at that! That is Butterfinger pieces in a peanut butter creme!!!! Yeah, baby!! This was a great surprise and awesome!!

So what do we learn from this?

Don't judge a candy by its wrapper, a book by its cover or a person by their looks. What matters at the end of the day is what's on the inside.

But don't start autopsying your friends and associates. Time will show you who they are inside - and you can stay out of prison.

I still have no explanation for the Cadbury creme eggs filled with orange. A mistake? An overrun of orange creme? Or an Easter miracle? Some things in life will never be known - like the airspeed velocity of a coconut laden swallow.

Monday, April 6, 2009

So Much Candy, So Little Time

Geez - Easter is here and there's so much more candy to review! (Hey, if that's the biggest problem I have, I'm pretty darn lucky, huh? It's all about perspective.) Things are still on track with the guy I like - I hate to talk too much about it - afraid I'll jinx it. Suffice it to say, if I go down in flames, I'll let you know.

We've seen in past holidays that some candy makers just throw out the same old stuff in a different package. Well, we have some of that with Easter. The Least Possible Holiday Effort award goes to Tootsie Roll:

Okay - could this packaging be any uglier? This is the most depressing Spring packaging EVER. Boo!!!

Now Tootsie did better with the Pops:

They have an egg shape! Creative! Not the world's most festive wrapper - how about a chick or a bunny? But at least not so suicidal. Look at the egg pops:

That blue thing is raspberry (NOT my fav), pink (cherry) was good. I don't know why these are colored so differently than the regular Tootsie Pops. I mean, it's not like these are some crazy spring colors. But I like the idea and it is a different candy for the season. I also think these have a better Tootsie to Pop ratio than the regular pops. But it's possible that's my imagination. I honestly don't care enough to really try and figure that out. It hurts my brain to think about actually (weights, ratios, ugh).

These are all solid entries - you already know what you're going to get. Kissables (which I like) has some great Easter colors and a rabbit. I like chicks and rabbits and think they should be on all Easter candy wrappers.

When I was a kid we used to get malted milk eggs (robin eggs) in our Easter baskets. I remember my little brother getting all pastel coloring all over his mouth. Or maybe he would just chew one up and get me to look at his as he opened his mouth. Little brothers are experts in gross. But I don't think they make these like they used to. Here's what I could find:

Okay - there's a robin CARRYING an egg! (Do you think that's an African or a European robin?)Whoppers remind me the most of the taste of the eggs I remember, but the colors are too garish:

Of course, after those Tootsie Roll wrappers, these are a Godsend.

These fancy-schmancy ones are from Williams-Sonoma. More florescent than the ones I remember and (trust me) WAY more expensive, but these are the best of the malted milk eggs. The only thing I didn't like about them is that the green ones actually have a little lime flavor to the candy coating. I wasn't too keen on that. But the chocolate layer is definitely of a high quality. And they are pretty. I like pretty.

NECCO rejoins the candy party with PAAS splashed malted milk eggs in ice cream flavors:

Okay - let's just slow down here. PAAS makes Easter egg dye, right? I mean, the name is synonymous with Easter, but.....on candy? And do we really need ice cream flavors? And when the hell did orange become an ice cream flavor? Aren't we talking sherbet here? What the hell is going on?

Look at that purple and orange monstrosity! GLAACK! YUCK! Too orange, too ugly. Strawberry tastes like the crunch berries in Captain Crunch coated with some waxy strawberry stuff. Vanilla is okay as is chocolate, but there's no malt here. All taste like some kind of bad cereal. These have the feel of a candy made in a third world country. But on a good note, they do have both a rabbit and a duck on the package.

Look at this confectionery artistry from Germany for Williams-Sonoma:

These are chocolate truffle eggs and they are gorgeous as well as delicious:

From the horrifying to the sublime, Easter candy offers something for everyone. It's all there for you to enjoy! (And on Monday it will be half price!)

And remember in the great Easter Egg hunt of life:

1.) Sometimes what you're looking for is right under your nose.

2.) The early bird gets the most eggs.

3.) The real winner is the one who had the most fun.

4.) You are grown up when you have more fun helping the other kids find the eggs.

5.) If the Easter bunny doesn't make you smile, you need to loosen up.

6.) The only things you'll find in the hunt that you can take with you are your memories. Fill your days with good ones.

So wear the biggest Easter bonnet you can find, share your candy, and stop and smell the flowers. Life is sweet and all too short - savor every second.