the epic hamlet, and black dinah chocolatiers

I have this thing where I talk a bit of trash from time to time. The object of my despise varies widely, from mashed potatoes, to coleus plants, to expensive chocolate made from couverture. Which am I most likely to delve into here? Ah yes, the latter.

However, as with all things I life, I often have to remind myself to cool it. Mashed potatoes, when mixed with yams, make for a delicious side dish. Coleus plants, no matter how offensive to my eyes, provide a colorful, exotic border for any annual garden. And expensive made-from-chocolate chocolate? It is still tasty, and can represent something quite lovely. Before I get to the chocolate bar – an all-Maine affair – I’d like to share the merriment that accompanied this bar. His name is Hamlet.

A few things you may have gleaned from the above pictures:

1. Hamlet loves America.
2. A balding man may get in the way of theatrical interpretation.
3. Choosing a female for the role of Rosencranz ensures some funny business, with an emphasis on funny.
4. Hamlet has tattoos.
5. Staging a play within a fort provides an excellent way to enact scenes taking place on ramparts… on ramparts.

This version of Hamlet was put on by the Ten Bucks Theatre Company, and was, shocker, only ten bucks! It was played out within the grounds of Fort Knox (no, not that Fort Knox, that that conveys impregnability and excessive wealth). At this Fort Knox, I hear a cannonball could once be shot nearly three miles – accuracy not guaranteed. While true that the theater and I are not as close as we once were, this performance reaffirmed two things: my interest in the dramatic arts, and my interest in never performing Shakespeare. I’m sorry, but it’s just a bit long to maintain that night-after-night enthusiasm, especially given that the language of the Bard is now a world apart from all human beings.

I will say that this Hamlet (the actor, that is) was the best I have ever seen. By far. As someone who tends to dislike physical comedy, I was impressed by this Hamlet’s terrifically-funny portrayal of the role. Great job, Greg Mihalik.

There were only two weak points to the play, in my mind. Some of the actors rushed their lines quite a bit, especially at the beginning – when I wasn’t yet sick of sitting through an intermission-less play. I’m sorry, Horatio. At least everyone was audible; that is always a surprising bonus. And two… the sword-fighting. After years of swooning over Highlander, I found the swordplay – and the silent punch – to be quite weak. Thinking back to my time on stage, I only hope that my few choreographed fights did not appear this fake. Ah, weird ghetto-British-meets-American-street-style-accented dirty, nasty, nasally vampire-slaying Mud, I miss you.

Photo from Chas. Campbell, pepper shaker from…. Williams Sonoma?

On to the chocolate, no?

Black Dinah Chocolatiers hail from Isle au Haut, Maine, a small island where privileged folk frolic in the summertime. In addition to vacationers, the island is inhabited by two notable things: fishermen, and parts of Acadia National Park. And, if I may add, Black Dinah Chocolatiers.

I couldn’t refuse this lavender bar. I love all things lavender and lavender-infused. I found it for sale at the Winterport Winery, in Winterport, Maine, which offers fruit wines running the gamut from dry to sweet to ultra sweet, all made with ingredients found regionally.

Made with 61% single origin Venezuelan chocolate, organic Maine-grown lavender blossoms (of which there were three on my bar), vanilla-infused sugar (since I’m still out of vanilla, I have to get my it in some way), a “squiggle” of white chocolate, and a few other ingredients, this bar was quite the looker. Squiggle ‘er up!

As far as appearances go, this bar(k) had it in aces. But as far as taste? Well… that would probably depend on who ate it.

I ate it.

The bar’s aroma is a pleasant sweet chocolateyness. I left it uncovered as I mused over my photographs of the hamming-it-up Hamlet. I left it uncovered as I perused the internet for information on Black Dinah Chocolatiers. I left it uncovered as I began to write about Hamlet, and Black Dinah Chocolatiers. And all the while, it kept on aromating, aromatically. It was a good scent. Moving on to tasting, my first impression was of nothing terribly special. Unfortunately, it tasted like nondescript chocolate-that-was-already-chocolate. I wasn’t getting too much out of it other than it was very chocolatey: can you tell, from my lack of more thoughtful words? It tasted quite milky too, understandable given the dry whole and skim milk added to this bar. Some bites brought out more of the lavender than others, with the sprinkled sugar offering a nice textural difference. The most unfortunate part of this bar was that there was a rather strange aftertaste.

I found myself continuing to take bites to try to wash the aftertaste out of my mouth. It was a mixture of bitter and sweet, but not bittersweet – the flavors remained separate. However, as anyone who can put 2 + 2 together could attest, this combination of continual nibblings didn’t alleviate that aftertaste. When I did bite on a lavender flower, it cut through the taste no problem, and even made the experience enjoyable. Given that there were only three lavender flowers on my bar, however, this wasn’t even or thorough aftertaste-cutting action.

Without the aftertaste, this would have been a simple and very enjoyable bar. With it? Perhaps not worth my $4.50. As with Coastline Confections, I wonder if this Maine company simply caters to tourists with cash. I have my doubts though – I think Black Dinah Chocolatiers has promise, and is inspired. After all, their three chocolate bark flavors are Lavender, Coffee-Peanut, and Ancho Chile – – rather uncommon flavors to simply be catering to tourists.

The company also makes an extensive line of truffles, which I believe are likely much more suitable for the style of chocolate that they are producing. I would love to try these truffles, of which the Blueberry-Black Pepper, Down East Sea Breeze, Rhubarb, and Tree to Sea Caramel truffles most catch my eye.

It is my hope that I can make it out to Isle au Haut before their café closes for the season on October 9th.

Black Dinah Chocolatiers

PO Box 13
1 Moore’s Harbor Rd.
Isle Au Haut, ME 04645


Read more from Chocolatier Kate on her blog, Black Dinah Chocolatiers.


19 thoughts on “the epic hamlet, and black dinah chocolatiers

  1. I’ve seen so very many versions of Hamlet that I’m nowadays struggling to find any of them particularly thrilling. Most recently, I saw the National Theatre’s live screening, but I do wish I’d seen David Tennant’s attempt! Love to think of you one day becoming a famous actress, I can say “I knew her when…” :)

    P.S. Stupid sad aftertaste bar :( And I do so love lavender in chocolate!

    1. Hannah: I feel the same way about most Shakespeare – how did the penny-paying crowds stand around for so long back in the day and love it so much? A live screening, as in sit and watch in on a screen? I don’t think I could do that. Although I have enjoyed watching the video of Into the Woods, and that’s overly lengthy as well.

      I will in no way become a famous actress. I quit the theater almost six years ago, and only recently have felt an inkling to act again. We’ll see!

      I love lavender too, it was, yes, a bit of a disappointment!

    1. Maris: Only a truly food-interested individual would have adhered to the sentence about the mashed potato/sweet potato mix, rather than all of the rest I blathered on about! Even I only gave it a passing thought. But yes, I think it’s a delicious side. Although I like mashed rutabagas even more:)

  2. I’m sorry your chocolate was a bit too full of aftertaste and nothing else. It sounded amazing. The play looked fun. I haven’t been to anything theater related in years. I need to get out more I think.

    1. sarah: So is the life of eating a lot of chocolate. I hesitated for several minutes about buying this, as I’d already expressed my suspicions of this particular company’s chocolate bark in the past. But it was just so beautiful!

      Hamlet was great fun, until the bugs came out! Then it was a bit more exciting. It was a different experience from all the outdoor theater I’ve participated in and seen, being surrounded by ramparts.

      Yeah, I’m sure there are plenty of good shows in your region to check out. You should do it!

  3. I really enjoyed your honest assessment of the chocolate. It is so disappointing to spend a chunk of cash on a beautiful chocolate bar only to be disappointed by the flavor. I once bought a beautiful bar to serve after lunch to a foodie friend of mine. It was embarrassingly bad. Such a bummer!

    Summer hamlet…so fun. Do you listen to This American Life? They recently had the most amazing thing about prisoners performing Hamlet. It was awesome!


    1. Erin: Oh no @ your chocolate blunder! What kind was it? “Embarrassingly bad” is quite a statement.

      Honestly, I wonder if many people wouldn’t pick up on the aftertaste of this bar… although I would be a bit skeptical of them if they didn’t. As I mentioned, I’d love to try this company’s truffles – – I have high hopes!

      Ohhhhh my gosssshhhhhhh I lovvvve Ira Glasssssssss:D I have the biggest crush on his voice evurrrrrrrrrr. Although since moving to Maine, I’ve stopped listening to public radio (!!) as much as I used to. I’ll have to check out the podcast for the episode you mention – thank you:)

  4. Ahhhh, Mudder….what fun looking through all of those old photos on the Rosetown link from Chas…Dana and you as tables–I just love that photo!! The bright colors, the cheesy food props, the giant knives, you and Dana with tables on your hips…what fun that was!
    I wish that we had stopped to see Fort Knox–it looks pretty cool.

    1. Mum, “nahhy get trickkhed.” There’s my best Mudder interpretation for you today!

      I love the tables photo as well. That was a lot of fun – see, it makes me want to return to that dark side known as theater. Hmm. Hurrumph!

      I didn’t get to explore Ft. Knox as well as I’d hoped, but just so you know, there is a warning sign that “Parts of the fort require a flashlight!” Let that guide your imagination as to what’s there:)

  5. Aw, lavendar sounds wonderful in chocolate…I’ve tried it and loved it. Too bad about that aftertaste. At least it was visually pleasing!

    I never get sick of plays, but Shakespeare…I’d rather watch it on TV or my computer screen with a dictionary on hand.

    1. sophia: Yes, I too have tried it and loved it. I love to bake with lavender any chance I get as well. And by “any chance I get” I mean “any chance I make.”

      Oh, Shakespeare. Brings me back to my theater classes all over again, learning the subtle differences between reading Shakespeare correctly, and reading it wrong, wrong, wrong. Alack, I was often wrong. Sorry, profs.

      I’m in favor of visually pleasing chocolate any day! I highly respect anything that is aesthetically distinct and lovely:)

  6. You’d go out to Isle au Haut just for chocolate? That’s dedication to the cause. I flew over Isle au Haut to see their lighthouse (so I can’t really give you a hard time), but I’d love to get out there and hike around. Did you do any wine tasting at Winterport Winery? I’ve been meaning to do that for the last year now. And Hamlet on the fort looks like it was pretty rad.

    1. Brianne: You flew over Isle au Haut to see a lighthouse? Are you out there taking the images that you then analyze, kneeling in the belly of the plane and lining up the camera so the nadir is properly aligned? That’s awfully cute to picture.

      Any reason to get me to the coast is excuse enough. I’ve made it to Stonington before, with my mum, but we didn’t have the time that day to make the trip to Isle au Haut as well. I would love to hike around there, too. So I hope I get the chance!

      We sure did do wine tasting at Winterport Winery! It was my first time there, and they have a fantastic selection. I enjoy sweeter wines, and they have plenty that fit that bill. Their blackberry port-styled wine was amazing!

  7. URG! Why didn’t I know of all these chocolate places when I lived in New England? You’re teasing me now. ;)

    I’ve only had lavender chocolate from Europe. I am a fan, I must say, but know it’s not for everyone.

    1. Julia, so sorry. Hehe, ahh… URG! That’s it, I’m going to find as many chocolateries as I can around me, and rope ’em in, just to work on your jealousy. Oh wait, it’s I who am jealous of you: you live in a city that is more populous than the entire state of Maine and then some! URG! ;)

      I do love lavender, and I’m sure it’s possible to create something that lingers pleasantly, and aromatically, on the palate. That said, I’m not sure I would be the one with the know-how for this.

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