Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Time out for Chocolate

For part of our trip, we stayed with my grandparents, and the other nights we spent at Pipi’s aunt’s house. Both families live in the Northern Virginia suburbs, so it was easy to get into Washington, D. C. during the day.

On one free day we went to the spy museum. This was fun, but a little bit overwhelming. Exhibits told the story of spying from biblical times until today, and I barely made it through the Cold War. My brain was full long before I got to cyberspying, so I’ll have to go back someday to find out how the Internet changed sleuthing.

Another fun discovery is the fact that Washington is a great chocolate city. We went to three different chocolate shops. The first one, Locolat wasn’t bad—I had very good hot chocolate and a yummy truffle—but the guy running the place was inexplicably cranky. How can you be in a bad mood surrounded by chocolate? Something strange was going on there.

The second place, Biagio Fine Chocolate, was a gourmet shop that carried some truffles (we were surprised to see our favorite Oakland chocolate maker, Michael Mischer, represented there), but it specialized in chocolate bars. They’re big on single-origin chocolate, and even bigger on free samples. They had a number of bowls out, each containing pieces of chocolate with various cocoa levels. We knew we were supposed to start with the mild stuff and work our way up to 85%, but Pipi’s cousin William discovered that if you taste one of the really intense dark squares and then eat one of the mild ones, it’s like popping butter into your mouth. This kept us amused for quite some time, but don’t worry, we did buy some.

ACKC Cocoa Gallery, which we went to the next day, sold not just house-made chocolates, but also chocolate drinks. It reminded us of our Australian obsession, Max Brenner. ACKC is located near Dupont Circle, and we spent the better part of an afternoon nursing caramel cocoa, buying rounds of chocolate, and just basking in the general fabulousness of the place.

(Yes, we managed to eat dinner both nights. We’re pros.)

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