My Near ‘Death by Chocolate’ Experience

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Chuck Siegel of Charles Chocolates prepares hot chocolate at COPIA's Death by Chocolate event in Napa, California

It was late afternoon last Saturday……I was struggling valiantly to down another sip of rich, thick, sweet, intensely chocolate hot chocolate. I was attending the Death by Chocolate event at COPIA (the Center for Wine, Food and the Arts) in Napa, California.

I had been sampling chocolate of all kinds, flavours and cocoa contents since 10 a.m. It was about 4 p.m. and I was sitting in COPIA’s beautiful tiered kitchen theatre, watching the final Master Class of the day. Chuck Siegel of Charles Chocolates had just passed around samples of the third of three hot chocolates he had made. Each was made with Guittard chocolate and tasted rather like drinking chocolate syrup (not that I will attest to knowing what drinking chocolate syrup tastes like!).

In terms of chocolate tasting, I was clearly done for the day.I had tried to pace myself by taking small samples and bites during the three optional Master Classes I had attended in the morning and the Walk-around Tasting in the afternoon. About 35 chocolatiers had set up their chocolate wares for attendees of COPIA’s annual day of indulgence to sample during the afternoon Tasting. A dozen or so California wineries were also present. I had chosen to avoid sampling wine (which might seem odd since I was in California’s famous wine region), but drinking wine in addition to eating chocolate would have finished me off even sooner. Besides, I had planned to take the Wine Train trip the following day. I would get my taste of California wine before I headed home.I thought experience had taught me how to pace my chocolate intake. I had been taking small samples, carefully placing any “leftovers” in a small container in my bag to enjoy another day (the following one, of course!). I knew the intensity of the chocolates I was tasting would mean it wouldn’t take long to have my fill of chocolate if I ate everything in sight.

It had been a last minute decision to attend Death by Chocolate. I had bought my ticket to fly from Toronto to San Francisco (Napa is about an hour northeast of SF) about a week before the event. That’s ‘last minute’ considering how I like to plan trips. I prefer to have plenty of time to anticipate an upcoming adventure. A week doesn’t allow quite enough time to properly plan for and look forward to a trip.)

Last Saturday afternoon, as I raised my hot chocolate-filled paper cup to my mouth, I wasn’t regretting the decision to gourge on chocolate in Napa for a day, but I knew I’d had enough.

It had been a very good day, but clearly I had over-indulged. It was now time to find a refreshing bottle of water and then stumble back to my hotel…..to lay down, let all that chocolate I’d eaten settle (preferably not on my hips), and the sweet dreams begin.

I’ve posted some pictures of my trip to Napa. For a description of the photographs, be sure to click on the word ‘Detail’ under the title “Trip to Napa, CA – February 2008”.

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