I’m taking back my own damned blog.
I’ve spent the last month anxiously yapping about it at ten-minute table talk sessions, I’ve fervently advocated for it and laughed too loudly at dinners with endless cocktails and enough steak to fell a Texan. But it hasn’t really felt like mine. Do not blame me, readers, for falling prey to the allure of capitalism, networking: the potential to work alongside esteemed writers with eponymes like eggboy and Dex, grinding out ouevres like ‘Ten Ways to Garbage Up Chinese Takeout,’ and, ‘Why My Ovaries Hate Gluten: A Primer’ on fly-by-night Millenial publications. Do not fault me for double-fisting gimlets at that one reception. Do not hate me for not hating.
Chuao sent over a whole mess of chocolate last week and in spite of my personal trainer and the money I’m throwing after him, I’ve decided to reward myself to a square of, oh, wait, never mind, I thought I was eating chocolate that I liked. Chuao emerged on the chocolate scene in 2002, previously dominated by Vosges, Lake Champlain, and a number of esteemed Frenchmen and proceeded to wow with their Firecracker bar. Their design, architectural and generous, put itself beyond the block and showcased the unpredictability of their flavors.
Occasionally, Chuao will still impress. Potato chip led to rocky road led to popcorn pop, which rested on the explosive laurels of the popping candy used in the firecracker, and gradually descended into something out of the books of the ill-fated Choxie and Chocomize. Enter the pretzel toffee swirl bar. I’ve complained about inappropriate ratios before, but this is descending into charter school territory, with one miniature pretzel for every third of chocolate, an amount that has satisfied no one, ever, except someone who tried a pretzel on an airplane once from a hermetically sealed bag, found it satisfactory, and regularly spends $6 per chocolate bar. The dark chocolate of indeterminate origin that I’ll peg at 68% is entirely too fruity and inappropriate for the more savory flavors, while well-tempered, and deserves to be showcased on its own without the unnecessary frippery of the flavorless toffee. This is an unfortunate flop gussied up in an alluring, noisy wrapper. If chocolate is a cheat food, this is a lukewarm tryst at a Motel 6 with a girl named Casey. Christ, at least make it good. Stuff that bar full of so many pretzels that its edges bulge with the Maillard reaction. Cram so much toffee in there that my mouth aches for chocolate. And make the chocolate scream.
I’m not the most interesting man in the world, nor am I a totally average asshole, but I do know the difference between good things and things that have run their course. Chuao has the world at their fingertips and they can plunge it into chocolate euphoria, and their chocolatier is surely aware of how to do it. So why stick to the mediocre? Why bother introducing four new flavors- sweet and savory (chocolate with sea salt), s’mores, pretzel and toffee, and almond, if not a one will stand to impress? This isn’t 2008 anymore. You can’t stick salt or caramel on something and profess brilliance. You can’t keep churning out posts you don’t care about on a blog one person reads (hi, Kevin) and still expect to stay on the radar. So yeah, Chuao, this is a call to action for us both- aim at the world and hit it in the center of its gooey, pulsing heart. Do something that matters, do something that will reverberate and for god’s sake, and the sake of chocolate, do it fucking well.