Red, White & Chocolate is official. We made the news last night, so we must be real.
Actually, I’ve been on the road since September 23rd traveling from my home in Las Vegas, Nevada to the LA Chocolate Salon and then on to Seattle for the Chocolate Makers Unconference and the NW Chocolate Festival. Along the way I’ve chatted with chocolate makers, chocolatiers, pioneers in the craft chocolate movement and creative innovators who are transforming the US chocolate experience.
During these past two weeks, I’ve been developing my itinerary (with great suggestions from some of you), learning how to operate my blog, figuring out how to pack my car for easy in-and-out each night at a different hotel or host home and, biggest challenge of them all, finding time to write up my experiences and share them with you. In fact, I had a bit of an emotional crisis over that last issue.
I was on my way to meet up with Jennifer Wicks of Burnt Fork Bend Chocolate Company in Stevensville, Montana (yes, I made it all the way to Montana by October 7th) feeling exhausted and stressed because I hadn’t had a moment to breathe let alone blog. I turned the bend on the highway entering Coeur d’Alene National Forest and the beauty of the Black Cottonwoods shifting into autumn, bright yellow leaves set against the deep green pines on mountain slopes, blue sky, sun filtering through picturesque clouds, rocked me back into the grounding I needed to feel me again. I felt a wave of peace well up inside, like when I savor a fine piece of chocolate. And then a reminder, I’m doing this for the experience. Not to meet arbitrary deadlines that I impose on myself or that others might expect.
I thought about what Brad Kintzer, TCHO‘s chief chocolate maker, said to me two weeks ago
after he gave me a private tour of the new Berkeley, CA facility. We explored the complexities of sourcing the beans, setting up labs at origin to support the farmers, allowing those beans to transform into their unique flavors. I shared with him then my fear that I wouldn’t have time to give these interviews their proper due with my hectic schedule driving, interviewing, sleeping, driving, etc. He thought for a moment, lowered his voice and said, “Don’t hurry it. Take whatever time you need to get the context. That’s what’s most important.” I could tell these words had a meaning for his work, as well.
So, here’s how this blog is going to work. I’m immersing myself in the US chocolate world over the next two months and, like the dream it will be, share images, impressions, flashbacks and inspirations — as I can. Profiles and longer pieces will follow after I arrive back home, dust off my driving boots and have time to reflect. It’s like tempering chocolate – you can’t hurry it along. You respect the chocolate, go along for the ride, coax it, but ultimately, the beauty arrives when the time is right.