Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dancing in the Dark

Five minutes after I returned to my office from a dismal meeting on protocol changes, a coworker entered my office to drop off 2 large shipping boxes. The ~15"x12"x12" Dean & Deluca (D&D) shipping box caught my eye. I thanked him and muttered, "Don't I wish it was a real Dean & Deluca box for me." When reports arrive for me in boxes, they are frequently recycled.

The clear, unaltered D&D stamped packing tape piqued my curiosity. Tendrils of excitement began to take hold as I deftly sliced opened the flaps to reveal a leaf of D&D tissue, card, brochure, gift invoice, and a white Styrofoam lid with D&D embossed in clean, bold Copperplate letters.

I plopped down with the card in my hand, reading the message several times, recalling my telephone conversations with CW over a span of several months. I mumbled, "Jeez, she didn't have to..."

The snug foam lid gave way. Nestled between 3 chilled pillows was a cube the size of my hand wrapped in glossy red paper. Definitely not a stack of work to sort through.

I cautiously removed the wrapper, careful not to tear it messily. (Why? I believe it is partly out of respect.) A sturdy, horizontal-grained white ballotin emerged with D&D emblazoned in silver.

Dean Deluca Box
The trove

Once open, there was no doubt what lay beyond the burnt sienna sheath. An intoxicating bittersweet aroma of dark chocolate exhaled, betraying itself.

Dean Deluca Desc
Guests of honor

I read through the eclectic list. Aside from being the first entry, the first to captivate my curiosity was the balsamic strawberry, white chocolate ganache with strawberry, flavored with balsamic vinegar, molded in dark chocolate.

Dean Deluca Asst Washed
My precious

Next to catch my eye was the blood orange, dark chocolate ganache with blood orange puree, enrobed in dark chocolate. Which should I try first?

Dean Deluca Asst
Eenie, meenie

Several years ago, we bought a small tin of D&D's chocolate covered Kona coffee beans at Whole Foods. While we enjoyed them greatly, this ballotin of chocolates exist on a different plane. Each bite is met with a bittersweet introduction, followed by a sweeter silken ganache, whimsical and coy, as if deliberately veiled to remain mysterious.

Deciding which is my favorite is difficult. Manhattan Dark is tantalizing, smooth, smoky, and spicy. Mahogany, leather, and a warm flame crackling in a fireplace come to mind. Balsamic strawberry and caramel fleur de sel are intriguing as their respective pairings augment each other. Lemon thyme and raspberry are more innocent. I can faintly hear children giggling, or it's the voices in my head. Toasted almond and vanilla milk are velvety, honest, and reliable, like you'd hope your financial adviser would be. Blood orange and jasmine pearl tea are pleasantly subtle, like two women quietly enjoying tea under a parasol on a sunny day in late spring. Hazelnut is the most straightforward and the piece I am saving for last because I accidentally ate the 2nd Manhattan Dark.

Many thanks to CW. I am glad all is well with her and her family.

- Cassaendra

2 deep thoughts:

SeattleDee 18 April, 2010 09:55  

I am still on a chocolate high after reading this post.. no wait, maybe it's just your descriptive prose. Delicious!

Cassaendra 19 April, 2010 18:26  

Hi SeattleDee~

Thank you! Those chocolates were amazing. I wish there was a way to *really* share them.

It looks like your husband has a lifetime's worth of cookies to try. ;)

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