I’ve got some great news. Perhaps due to all the well-wishes I received that effectually bolstered my confidence, or perhaps due to the focused nature of my steel-trap mind, I am now a Master. The good cheer that fills my body and soul today leads me to pump out some applicable Metallica lyrics. I’ve been waiting to listen to this song for weeks.
Master, master / Where’s the dreams that I’ve been after?
Master, master / Promised only lies
Laughter, laughter / All I hear or see is laughter
Laughter, laughter /Laughing at my cries
In retrospect, this doesn’t sound very celebratory, does it? My thoughts wander to Dire Straits’ Lady Writer, given the intense thesis revisions I’ve been undergoing over the past few weeks. A closer look at the mumbled lyrics reveals that nothing seems terribly celebratory in that song either. No matter.
I’d like to raise a glass to this great week in my life (*chink*) in two ways – through a photographic homage to my research, and through a chocolate bar review. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?
My research utilized hemispherical photography to estimate the openness of canopies in white pine forests. What I may not have mentioned here was that I was privileged enough to obtain a Canon 5D Mark II for my work. I was blown away by it, and somewhat blown away by its heavy weight as well – what a camera. The problem here was that the only working lens I had for the Canon was the Sigma 8mm fisheye lens for my research. Thus my plans to take the camera on every adventure and excursion I ever took (ever!) were squashed.
Until last weekend. Sad at the thought that I’ll soon have to part with this wonderful piece of technology, we took it with us around town and on a drive to the nearby Ellsworth. In the surrounding images, you’ll see 180 degree snapshots of what my mind’s eye has captured lately – including a photo I snapped during the middle of my defense, whilst demonstrating the capabilities of a wireless remote shutter.
Last weekend I was pleased to find a chocolate bar that I’ve previously mentioned, but hadn’t seen in person until now.
The Grace Under Fire All Natural Pistachio & Red Pepper Dark Chocolate Bar from Lake Champlain Chocolates. A bar designed by famed Vermonter Grace Potter, of Grace Potter & the Nocturnals fame.
Ooh la la.
A 54% cocoa base, which is Lake Champlain Chocolates‘ signature ‘dark’ chocolate, is paired here with pistachios, red pepper, and hints of cinnamon and vanilla. The pistachios have been roasted, and are presented throughout the bar in unashamedly-large chunks. Red pepper at first seems absent, only to come through in the finish, with a slow and quiet burn building as the smoky pistachio flavor disintegrates. Perhaps the cinnamon is present during the finish as well, but I didn’t notice much of it, or the vanilla, at any point during my tasting.
I thought it would be fun to write a paragraph on my experiences with this bar through the words of Grace Potter & the Nocturnals songs. Here goes.
You know it soothes my soul, finding time to lose with you (it’s way too late for dignity). Sweet like sugarcane, slow like a midnight train, so come sit down beside me. I see it and I believe it: just a taste would be sweeter, sweeter, sweeter… it’s only love. All the treasures of my life are right here in my hand – one part sugar, two parts feeling, three cups full of bottled lightening. Heart races, closer and closer, ’til it whispers in my ear “Don’t let it go to waste.” You are the voice inside my head, you see through my trouble and my temper. You may see me when I’m all undone, and like so many [chocolates] done before you always leave me wanting more.
Not terribly cohesive eh? But rather, a well-spent hour researching song lyrics. And perhaps the most lyrical ode to chocolate I have produced yet.
A footnote about this bar: mine had bloomed (you can see a wee smudge of it, above). Shame on The Grasshopper in Ellsworth, for selling bloomed chocolate. That said, I’m not sure if this bar is a regularly-produced item from LCC, or a one-time product that just happens to be gathering dust on a shelf in small-town Maine, or a bar that suffers from bloom due to the presence of such chunky pistachios (which would work how, exactly?). My guess is it’s not a regular item, and this store is just trying to sell up its share of old product – after all, the bars were made to commemorate the release of the band’s most recent album… over a year ago. But perhaps I’m off-base here. Either way, the bloom has no effect on the spicy and bold flavor of this tasty chocolate. It goes down easily, and it’s great for snacking on if you need a pick-me-up midday.
750 Pine Street
Burlington, VT 05401
Grace Under Fire bar available here.
See more about LCC, which I visited last winter.
Pssst: Bangor, Maine. Home to a large statue of my man Paul Bunyan.