A search for the world’s best chocolate yields surprising perks

By Teresa Carey…

Just like a kiss, a good piece of chocolate must be slowly savored to be appreciated to its fullest. And like the best kisses, you really only need just one, or two if you have a deeper yearning.

“You really only need one or two pieces of the good stuff to satisfy a chocolate craving. Any more is a waste,” says Doreen Pendgracs of Matlock, Man.

Pendgracs might be aptly called the ‘Madame of Chocolate’. When not indulging in chocolate ecstasies along the shores of Lake Winnipeg, she can sometimes be found massaged and wrapped in molten chocolate layers at the spa at resort at Jade Mountain, one of many exotic destinations around the globe she has visited while on a quest to find the world’s best chocolate.

“I’ve never bathed in chocolate, but I have been scrubbed by ground cacao beans and then wrapped in banana leaves at the spa at Hotel Chocolat, in St. Lucia,” Pendgracs said. “[It’s] the most decadent chocolate adventure you will ever have.”

For the last three years, Pendgracs has been travelling the world to meet with chocolateurs, chocolate makers, and chocolate growers, doing research for her upcoming three-volume book. Consequently, the Pendgracs’ cupboard is always well-filled with a vast assortment of the world’s finest chocolate.

“Right now, I have chocolate from Dubai, Hungary, Ecuador, California, Vietnam, and Dominican Republic in the house. Part of the perks of the job,” Pendgracs said.

For Valentine’s Day Pendgracs plans to make her husband a lovely dinner at home, with fine wine and, of course,  chocolate on the menu.

Perhaps when selecting recipes, she will take her lead from one of the chocolateurs she has met along the way, and serve up some hot and spicy Mexican ganache or pepper truffles. Either is sure to spike up the romantic heat.

Pendgracs says her husband thinks well of  her chocolate-obsessed life.

“He loves it. He’s as big a chocolate fan as I am, and where else can he have high quality chocolates delivered to his door at no cost,” Pendgracs quipped.

“He’s really been developing his palate over the past three years. When I used to give him a chocolate, he’d just pop it into his mouth. Now, he smells the chocolate, takes a bite to sense the taste and texture, and then lets it melt in his mouth.”

“Because eating chocolate produces endorphins in the body, it will always make you feel better,” Pendgracs said. “Chocolates with a silkier texture such as Belgian and Swiss chocolate tend to be more sensual as they have that silkier, creamier texture and can’t help but make you feel sexy. Chocolate fondues, into which you dip fresh strawberries, other fruit or angel food cake chunks into warm molten chocolate is one of the most sensual experiences you can have and a decadent way to end a great meal or enjoy by the roaring fire.

For more about Pendgrac’s experiences with chocolate, visit her blog at http://diversionswithdoreen.com, or hear her talk about chocolate at the Books2Eat day of discovery on Apr. 6, at the Millennium Library in Winnipeg.

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About Teresa

Teresa Carey is a ceramic artist, writer, photographer, journalist, publisher and nature lover. She lives in Manitoba's Interlake on a small acreage close to the shores of Lake Winnipeg.

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