Tag Archives: Culture

Savouring Heavenly Chocolate on National Chocolate Week

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photo of billionaire shortcake chocolate and coffee and walnut milk chocolate

A friend and I recently decided to sign up for the most fabulous chocolate tasting club… one membership between us (if we had one membership each we would end up eating far too much chocolate!)… Its a flexible monthly membership with one box of the finest wonderfulness sent to us each month.  The first box arrived just in time for National Chocolate Week (running from 8th Oct to 14th Oct).

We decided to go for the milk chocolate collection because we both prefer the mellow and creamy taste of milk chocolate over the more deep and bitter taste of darker chocolate.  The free box of nibbles that were provided with the first box are already finished…  How could they not be?  Crunchy caramelised almonds and hazelnuts coated in delicious chocolate…

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When I opened the chocolate box I was greeted by the inviting and irresistible aroma.  Each beautiful and exquisitely crafted chocolate is testament to the care and attention to detail of these chocolatiers.  Indeed, an exquisite chocolate can and will engage all your senses, not only your taste buds.  Aesthetically, it will be a work of art.  Its aroma will fill the room.  You will hear that first satisfying bite.  Textures and tastes are an exciting paradise, just waiting to be explored and relished.  Beyond my five senses, even my mind was engaged by the wonderfully unusual creations hidden in the box!!!  “Salt and Pepper” chocolate… “Raspberry Mousse”…  This is after all, a chocolate tasting club!!! 

photo of full box of milk chocolate selectionphoto of pink champagne milk chocolate

I had never before tried raspberry chocolate… until now that is!  The “Raspberry Mousse” is described as being “made with plenty of white chocolate, cream and raspberry juice whipped together to make a refreshing mousse that’s brimming with rounded creamy notes cut through with the zing of raspberry.  Encased in a milk chocolate cup and finished with raspberry pieces for even more fruity explosions” (The Chocolate Tasting Club 2012).  As wonderful as this description is and the connotations it gives, as evocative and as sensual the description  is, the actual chocolate is better.  My words cannot do it justice, but I would describe eating this chocolate as a bite into a crisp, solid, chocolate shell, that releases a full and tangy but also creamy burst of fresh raspberries with cream onto my waiting taste buds, covering them so fully with the refreshing, sunny and satisfying taste of summer, before adding smooth chocolate with each subsequent bite.

photo of post milk chocolate and hazelnut praline swirl photo of pink champagne and coffee walnut milk chocolate photo of post milk chocolate and hazelnut praline swirl

The “Whisky Truffle” was a bit too strong for me… I later read that its enough to “knock your socks off”!!!   Hmmm….

Another one I have to mention is the “Caramel Crunch” which is described as “a celebration of contrasting textures and complementary flavours with an utterly harmonious result.  Inside there’s a melt-away hazelnut praline made with a drop of caramel, which blends and mingles perfectly.  And outside comes the contrast in the shape of a whole roasted hazelnut for a bit of crunchy bite.  Enrobed in mellow milk chocolate” (The Chocolate Tasting Club 2012).  Its absolutely delicious and the contrasting textures completely held my attention, bringing intrigue, “fullness” and variety to the experience, defining it further.

Milk Chocolate Close up of billionaire shortcake coffee and walnut and raspberry mousse

There are still many more to go and i’m looking forward to trying the Billionaire’s Shortbread…  and i’m so curious about the “salt and pepper” chocolate!

How have you been celebrating chocolate this week?  If you haven’t done anything “chocolate-related” yet, don’t worry there are still four days to go!  How are you going to treat yourself this week?

Copyright © 2012

All rights reserved

This blog and all of its contents* (including written contents, art work and photographs) are original works by the owner of this blog.  No material on this blog may be reproduced, distributed, copied, published or downloaded in any way without the prior written permission of the owner.

* Only exceptions are the theme which has been appropriately credited and music videos.  

 

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Performance of Dramatic Elegance

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With the International Horse Show in Olympia, London coming soon in December, I thought I would post some photos I took at last years show.  

In addition to the show-jumping and dressage events, the show featured “The Lusitano Ride” from Portugal, where ten riders and their horses performed with precision and dramatic elegance to portuguese music.  Every move perfectly co-ordinated, beautifully performed…

Portuguese - The Lusitano Ride Photo 1Portuguese - The Lusitano Ride 2Portuguese - The Lusitano Ride 3

Portuguese - The Lusitano Ride 4

Portuguese - The Lusitano Ride 5

Portuguese - The Lusitano Ride 6

Portuguese - The Lusitano Ride 7

The show also featured Lorenzo, the Flying Frenchman, who stands on two horses, while he “commands” another four.  The six horses gallop and jump, all perfectly co-ordinated, with Lorenzo still standing, with one foot on each of two horses!

Lorenzo, the Flying Frenchman 2

Lorenzo, the Flying Frenchman 3

Lorenzo, the Flying Frenchman 4

Lorenzo, the Flying Frenchman 5

Lorenzo, the Flying Frenchman 8

Then there was the clown with his cute pony…

Clown and Pony 1

Clown and Pony 2

Christmas Finale

And of course, given the time of year, there was the Christmas finale, which was magical…

There was also a christmas shopping village with many equestrian stalls.

Unintentionally I managed to dress in a way that fit in with the equestrian theme, with my leggings and knee-high boots – so that was lucky!  So if you’re planning to go this year and are stuck for what to wear, you could always try that!

Copyright © 2012

All rights reserved

This blog and all of its contents* (including written contents, art work and photographs) are original works by the owner of this blog.  No material on this blog may be reproduced, distributed, copied, published or downloaded in any way without the prior written permission of the owner.

* Only exceptions are the theme which has been appropriately credited and music videos.

A Rebel’s Grace

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A Rebel’s Grace

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination.  Imagination is more important than knowledge.  Knowledge is limited.  Imagination encircles the world.” (Albert Einstein).

A totally different and arguably rebellious way to use imagination is through the creation of graffiti.  Now i’m not advocating that you write, draw or paint on (or in any other way alter) the surface of public buildings / property.  Instead, I thought I’d share my legitimate initiation into graffiti art through participation in a 2.5 hour, practical graffiti workshop.

Protected by a mask, goggles and pair of gloves, I chose a spray can from the wide range of colours sitting on the table top and started practising.  For those of you who have never used a spray can to paint before, I can assure you that it is harder than it looks and it certainly takes getting used to!  However, it is a fun albeit messy experience.

We were given several pieces of A4 sized thick card to work on and shown different techniques of using the spray can to achieve various effects.  There were templates available which we had the option of using if we wished, as well as small objects to scratch into the paint to achieve a desired effect.

I don’t know if it was the fact that the art form gives connotations of rebellious expression, but I felt more “free” to play with ideas and express myself without any pressure to conform to “accepted norms” of what is considered “acceptable art”.  It felt so different to art class at school where we had to draw the object in front of us and follow a list of rules.  Painting graffiti is an immensely creative and liberating experience.  I was able to search within myself and explore ideas.  Indeed, as Claudia Lady Bird Johnson (First Lady of United States during presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson) said “Art is the window to man’s soul.  Without it, he would never be able to see beyond his immediate world; nor could the world see the man within.”

When the soul bows...

When the soul bows…

When the soul bows... close up

During the workshop I managed to complete three pieces.  I was disappointed to discover that my work has become slightly damaged (colour transfers, scratches, paint removal) through being moved around since I brought it home (during refurbishing).  Nonetheless, I have (bravely) included it on this post!

Apart from the experience being a fun introduction to graffiti art, it also enabled me to realise that, like everyone else, I have something unique to contribute to whatever I do – that uniqueness is what makes “me” me.  It has also given me the confidence to believe that even in cases where an activity is new to me there is a possibility that I may have something different to contribute.  Furthermore, this experience reminded me that art is a great way to focus on something completely and forget about everyday problems.  Indeed, as Thomas Merton (Writer, Catholic Priest / Trappist Monk, Social Activist and Supporter of Interfaith Understanding) said “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time”.

Compassion's Light
One?

The usual price for this workshop appears to be approximately £75, inclusive of all required materials.  I had managed to purchase a discounted ticket through a group-buying site for £28 (after receiving £2 cashback) for a graffiti workshop at Graffik Gallery on Portobello Road, London W10 5TE  ( http://grafikgallery.3dcartstores.com/Graffiti-Workshops_ep_56.html ).

Groupon recently had a deal for a graffiti workshop, although this appears to have now expired.  However, in case you are interested please find below a link for Groupon and my favourite cashback site:

I hope you have found this post interesting and maybe it has inspired you to attend a graffiti workshop and/or have a go at creating (legitimate) graffiti or (if you are keen to be a one hit wonder) a graffito!

Forthcoming posts over next few weeks: Unusual experiences, socially beneficial experiences, a really happy story and of course several mystery posts…

Copyright © 2012

All rights reserved

This blog and all of its contents* (including written contents, art work and photographs) are original works by the owner of this blog.  No material on this blog may be reproduced, distributed, copied, published or downloaded in any way without the prior written permission of the owner.

* Only exception is the theme which has been appropriately credited.