What’s up with chocolate? Why are people so very often eating it, talking about it , buying it, storing it, writing about it, photographing it, hoping for it, sneaking it, hiding it, baking with it, drinking it? Lately, you can sit home and WATCH shows about the stuff on tv. You could just by-pass a lot of peoples’ mouths and lay it right on their hips. They prefer it to meat, fruit, pizza, salad, whatever. Mention it it’s available and half the women in the room begin to roll their eyes and start gravitating, maybe unwillingly, to where they think it might be. The talk turns to addiction. “I can’t stop eating it; it calls me.” “I ate all of it.” “I love the dark stuff. “I only want milk chocolate.” “Hershey’s kisses are my downfall.” “Before I could bake the cookies, the chips were in my stomach.” You could go on, couldn’t you?
Luckily, it turns out that chocolate (at least the dark kind) is pretty darned good for you. Lowers blood pressure, makes us happier (we knew that), and it’s also a powerful antioxidant. Check out WebMD for more information on the health benefits of chocolate; they’ve got the news on last August’s issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, which has an article on how great for us is our our silky, happy-making confection.
There are those who claim chocolate is the ultimate aphrodisiac, perhaps the original love potion. When it first came to light that chocolate was just something people had to have, folks drank it, not ate it. From there, maybe comes the idea of it as a “potion.” Just try melting some great-quality grated chocolate in warm milk, adding a tish of vanilla and brown sugar to taste. Adults might add a nip of something more. Think rum, brandy, Bailey’s, Amaretto or any mint liqueur. Whip it up a little with a whisk. See if you don’t understand why it’s a potion. (Or you can just buy wonderful Dutch-process cocoa and follow the directions. Instant cocoa, made with dried milk, just can’t cut it. That’s an emergency ration.) Warming, calming, filling, it is sweetening of personalities as well as hearts. Sleep better after a cup? Maybe.
Because it’s so long associated with love in our world, chocolate has become THE thing for Valentine’s Day. Most chocolate during the year is purchased by women (right.) But at Valentine’s Day, the tables turn, and the guys start buying the stuff, too. Lots of places sell chocolate. Weird. It’s everywhere…just look.
You could stop in the local drugstore for your heart-shaped box of confections for your best love, or you could even pick up something sweet when you stop at the grocery store for milk this week. If you settle on mass-produced chocolate, granted less expensive, you’ll likely find sweets that not only don’t taste perfectly, but also aren’t really as good for you. Ingredients list? Hmm. They might have been made last fall. Or earlier. They might have been made in another country (I know: French, Swiss and Belgian artisanal chocolatiers are known to be among the top makers of quality chocolate. Save them for your next trip.) and maybe you want to buy American chocolate. Who knows? Maybe you want chocolate made in Colorado. Or in, yes, Colorado Springs. In that case, you know you want Patsy’s.
Located on the west side of our fair city on 21st Street, Patsy’s has been around for many years, originally making itself famous for its still available caramel corn. Manager Mike Nisswonger encourages shoppers to come right on down to the shop and see..well…eat… the chocolates for themselves. Though the website has quite a selection, there’s nothing like seeing (and smelling and tasting) the candies in their infinite variations up close. Quite a few goodies are available for between $5 and $15 (and up, naturally), but there are also some treats for less than $5 right in the store. A small portion of the line is also available at the Broadmoor Hotel’s Gourmet Shop and at select local florists. It’s a yummy deal to buy beautiful local, fresh chocolate at a loving price. Mmmm. Worth the trip. Visit…and do it soon…Sunday is Valentine’s Day. Remember to save some for your sweetheart.
For more info: Patsy’s Candies, 1540 S 21st St., Colorado Springs, CO 80904. 719-633-7215. Open M-F 9am-5:30pm; Saturdays, 10am – 5pm; Sundays, 12 noon-4pm. http://patsiescandies.com. The website includes a map.