Tuesday, April 28, 2009

How to Taste Chocolate

The flavor compounds found in dark chocolate exceed those of red wine, and detecting all these notes can be an extremely fun and educational endeavor. Chocolate tasting skills will allow you to truly savor chocolate. However much of what has been written about tasting and enjoying chocolate has come from traditional European practices focused more on appearance and display. At Intentional Chocolate we feel there is are additional steps you can take to develop a deeper relationship with the “Food of the Gods”.

As people's taste for chocolate is developed and refined, they can distinguish the subtle differences in the flavor of chocolate made with cocoa beans of various origins and intensities. The final step in chocolate discrimination is to be able to discern its coherent energy levels.

Room Temperature
For best tasting, chocolate should be at room temperature. This allows the chocolate to begin to melt the moment it hits your mouth. Cold chocolate doesn't release its flavors and aromas as quickly, altering the tasting experience.

Be Still
You can't appreciate good chocolate if the phone is ringing or you are checking your e-mail. Chocolate comes from all over the world to end up in your house, so turn off the TV and give the chocolate some respect. Take a deep breath and release it. Take a moment to appreciate the intention (actual or inferred) in the chocolate arising from its journey from the chocolate maker, the grower, the cacao tree and the earth. It will reward you for it.

Clear Your Palate
You don't want other tastes interfering with your experience of the chocolate. Make sure no flavors are lingering in your mouth before you begin tasting your chocolate. A piece of apple, a bit of bread or (believe or not) a bite of a pickle are all said to erase flavors in your mouth.

Look at the Chocolate
European traditions value chocolate appearance highly as one of many criteria to judge its quality. While important for display it does not matter for tasting whether or not chocolate has a shiny even gloss on its surface. The color of the chocolate depends on the origin of the beans and the roasting process. Often the most intense chocolate is the most primitive in appearance.

Break Off a Piece
European standards have also stressed breaking chocolate to listen to the sound. They say quality chocolate produces a sharp, crisp sound and a clean edge or the chocolate's "snap." This is simply a function of the “hardness” (melting point) of the cocoa butter and its tempting. It is NOT an indicator of quality, flavor or energy.

Smell the Chocolate
Much like wine experts, chocolate experts can find an incredible array of scents and aromas. Some chocolate flavors include:
burnt bread

The list could continue forever. When you begin tasting chocolate, these aromas probably won't be clear to you. That's okay. Spend more time just smelling the chocolate. Warm it up more with your finger, close your eyes, and let your smell-imagination run wild. Eventually different chocolates will recall different odors. You will start to know which regions of the world produce chocolate with which aromas.

Feel the Chocolate in Your Mouth
Good chocolate should literally "melt in your mouth." Depending on the “hardness” of the cocoa butter chocolate will begin to melt at 88 degrees. While melting the chocolate should feel silky, rich and luscious in your mouth. Don’t chew the chocolate; just let the flavors release on their own. Appreciate the texture of the chocolate -- it can vary from smooth to grainy. A sensual mouth feel is one of the highlights of the chocolate experience.

Taste It
Finally, you should taste the chocolate. You can chew if you want, but just a couple of times. Like with smelling the chocolate, pay attention to the flavors that just pop into your head. These could be the same as what you smelled, or completely different. Most truly interesting chocolate will have at least three primary flavor release points (some have up to 7). The first flavors present just as the chocolate melts in your mouth opening up to the cacao bean or the earth notes. This is followed by the second release of flavors or the “chocolate bouquet”. It is here, in the middle of the tasting, that you are transported to the floral garden, the fruited jungle or to chocolate’s deep soul. Finally, well after swallowing, there arises a hint, a memory of a pleasure gone by, a note (if the chocolate is very special) that will call to you for up to 30 minutes after you are finished.

Feel the Energy
If the chocolate has been intentionally handled you will feel its energy emotionally. It triggers feelings similar to the emotions experienced while viewing a tropical sunset or beautiful orchid. At its height it increases or adds to your own inherent energy. Well after the chocolate experience (if the chocolate is energetic) you should have a strong sense of increased well being.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Seeking Optimal Heath & Longevity? Look To The Value Of Friendship...

In a very interesting New York Times article by Tara Parker Pope, she discusses how your friends are an essential ingredient for a long, happy life. In a world that offers a dizzying array of remedies, it's comforting to know the simple healing power of having a cup of coffee ( with chocolate, of course) with a dear friend!

Here's more:

"Researchers are only now starting to pay attention to the importance of friendship and social networks in overall health. A 10-year Australian study found that older people with a large circle of friends were 22 percent less likely to die during the study period than those with fewer friends. A large 2007 study showed an increase of nearly 60 percent in the risk for obesity among people whose friends gained weight. And last year, Harvard researchers reported that strong social ties could promote brain health as we age.

“In general, the role of friendship in our lives isn’t terribly well appreciated,” said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. “There is just scads of stuff on families and marriage, but very little on friendship. It baffles me. Friendship has a bigger impact on our psychological well-being than family relationships.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Chocolate and Yoga...a Blissful Blend!

Does yoga and chocolate heighten body awareness?

Kristina Markoff elaborates on beliefnet.com:

"...When asked to comment on how she first linked yoga and chocolate together, Katrina had this to say: "It's this ritual part of eating chocolate that lead me to first associate chocolate and yoga." All eating is associated with ritual, but chocolate holds a unique, if underestimated place in feasting because we eat it with our hands. While most food is eaten with a knife and fork, chocolate is held by the fingers and melts against the warmth of the body, leaving us with the impulse to lick its traces. This sensuous experience heightens our bodily awareness in a way that other foods don't."

It was following an afternoon yoga session that Katrina realized that eating chocolates post-yoga held spiritual value. "After class one day I decided-I am going to have chocolate," recalls Katrina....."It was amazing, the flavors that came out after that class. It led me to connect yoga, spirituality, ritual, and chocolate, to think that maybe in certain yoga poses you could hold on to certain textures, like flowers, or you'd be experiencing certain smells."

Read more about the yoga/chocolate connection here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ions Conference 2009

During astronaut Dr. Ed Mitchell’s space travel to and from the moon thirty years ago he had life changing personal realization of the interconnected, undivided nature of the universe. He founded the Institute of Noetic Science to deeply explore this insight and the promise it holds for mankind. He directed the institute toward the Noetic sciences to explore the "inner cosmos" of the mind (consciousness, soul, spirit) and how it relates to the "outer cosmos" of the physical world.

IONS is holding their 2009 Annual Conference and in the next few weeks we'll take time to cover some of the wonderful people and groundbreaking ideas being presented at this years Institute of Noetic Science International Conference 2009:

"Toward a Global Shift: Seeding the Field of Collective Change. The time is now, to join together in community, to share our dreams, celebrate and take action - co-creating a new vision for our shared future."

The conference explores the forefront of positive transformation, a sustainable future, penetrating insights from pioneers and engages in creative dialogue with people from all over the globe.

Below is a video from the Shift in Action Youtube channel about the IONS 13th International Conference.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Chocolate Calculator:

Don't tell me your age; you probably would tell a falsehood anyway –but the Intentional Chocolate Man will know!


This is pretty neat.


It takes less than a minute .
Work this out as you read .
Be sure you don't read the bottom until you've worked it out!

This is not one of those waste of time things, it's fun.

1. First of all, pick the number of times a week that you would like to have chocolate (more than once but less than 10).
2. Multiply this number by 2 (just to be bold).
3. Add 5.
4. Multiply it by 50 -- I'll wait while you get the calculator.
5. If you have already had your birthday this year add 1759 If you haven't, add 1758.
6. Now subtract the four digit year that you were born.

You should have a three digit number

The first digit of this was your original number
(i.e., how many times you want to have chocolate each week).

The next two numbers are YOUR AGE!