Sunday, September 21, 2008

when times are tough, there’s always chocolate

And then there is the chocolate that’s good for the best of times. That’s my preference. You get to a point where you want chocolate as a reward, not a painkiller. Job well done. Life is good. Luck is holding out. Sit back, close your eyes and concentrate on the piece of creamy bliss.

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Josie’s Terra Source chocolates may be good for those who just want to stuff it in until it hurts, but they are best, I think, for people who want to think and dream, and revel in what they are eating. In other words, don’t open a box when you’re about to pay your bills online. Open a box when you’re through with the awful and are ready to move on to the sublime.

I met Josie at the Westside Community Farmers Market a week back. Her stand was simple: a plate of chocolate bits and a container of individually packaged chocolates. It’s hard make a visual splash with chocolates when you have brassy autumnal veggies on stands all around you.

After chatting for a minute, I took the plunge and asked if I could see the art in progress. There was no hesitation in her response. Yes. I was really impressed. Josie is fairly new on the Madison chocolate scene and she has some established competition. Some (not all, but some) of that competition has expressly told me to keep my camera lens focused elsewhere.

Josie is different. She acknowledges the help she received from Madison’s great – David Bacco – and she wants to give back to others who show an interest.

Okay, so this Sunday afternoon I went to watch. The molding, the filling with ganache, the quick refrigeration, the popping out. All by hand. With flavorings from locally sourced fruits and organic teas and spices. Golden raspberry. Tart rhubarb. Scarlet tea. Brandied pear. Bliss.

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Purchase photo 2045

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It seems such a lonely process. The chocolates are made in a commercial kitchen that is usually devoted to cake baking. So I saw a lot of these lying around:

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The radio pipes in classical music. Josie fills, smoothes, covers and pops.

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Purchase photo 2044

After, there’s much to clean and scrub.

Have you thought about selling in a shop? – I ask.
No, that’s not where my talents are.
How do you like to sell?
Honestly, I would like meeting up with the buyers and handing them their chocolates.

Oh the many benefits of a Farmers Market! Let me be honest: foodwise, in Wisconsin, winter sucks.