Rub it in: chocolate beats kissing and makes scents
Move over Willy Wonka, Helen Flanagan discovers the dark side of chocolate has unbelievable outcomes and not-to-be-missed places to stay and play.
Ahh dark chocolate. It’s sensuous so when melted-meets-tongue is better than a passionate kiss, and guarantees to send hearts into double flutter. With or without chilli it’s one of the smartest foods on the planet, is a cognitive enhancer ensuring the brain whirrs into old age, and why not rub it in. After-all it is a perfume and a body balm.
The word ‘chocolate’ comes from the Mayan xocoatl, and ‘cocoa’ from the Aztec cacahuatl. Supposedly about 1600 the Spaniards found the Mexican word hard to pronounce so called it cacao.
Cocoa bean, the main ingredient, is the seed found in the fruit pod of a tropical tree which has been cultivated in South America for over 3000 years. Trees can only be found within ten degrees latitude of the Equator and grow to between four and eight metres. Pods are produced when trees are about three to five year old and harvested twice a year. Amazingly out of 10,000 blossoms produced by each tree in a year, only 20 to 30 will become pods, containing approximately 40 seeds or cocoa beans in each one. Chocolate manufacturers buy fermented cocoa beans, clean, roast, grind the nib (centre of bean) which becomes chocolate ‘liquor’, the main ingredient of dark chocolate.
Fast forward. British writer Roald Dahl said “1932 the Mars Bar, 1936 Maltesers and 1937 the Kit Kat - these dates are milestones in history and should be seared into the memory of every child in the country.” Who cares about the dates, it’s the level of naughtiness. Or is it?
Chocolate is rich in antioxidants resulting in brain-buzz. Ditto the fragrance. Try using cacao essential oil mixed with vanilla and sandalwood. Makes good scents and on hot dates … well who knows what could happen. For a facial mask melt a few squares and add orange essential oil; bath-times are yummiest with chocolate, coconut oil and olive oil soap; pucker up for a lip-smacking balm made from cocoa butter, chocolate chips and vitamin E; and if you’re not too sure about body paint guess you should find out for yourself. Best buy two jars … just in case.
Sounds too messy and awkward? How about a Wicked Chocolate Massage from Ripple, a unique and recommended mobile day spa service for women, men and couples found in various Australian regions. “I discovered the technique in a small day spa in Spain’s Barcelona,” says Ripple founder Alison Shaw. “Although I couldn’t speak Spanish, and the therapists could not speak English, I recognised one of the words on the menu that’s universally recognised - chocolate! I adapted it using rich, lush chocolate oil, from head to toe in the most decadent of massages. It’s perfect for chocoholics and a way to enjoy chocolate without calories. As Ripple www.ripplemassage.com.au comes to you, afterwards just enjoy a truffle.”
Remedy-wise, it’s mooted chocolate helps stomach-aches, relieves coughs and diarrhoea, drinking chocolate milk shake after a workout helps build muscles; believe it or not, chocolate can be used as a fluoride alternative for fighting cavities; and as we all know, it's a stress-free food since it releases endorphins and serotonin in your body making you feel happier and more relaxed. Maybe it has magical powers to mend a broken heart.
And for serious chocoholics looking to fuel their addiction, www.booking.com reveals four of the world’s best chocolate destinations:
Confiserie Teuscher in Zurich, Switzerland, famous for its award-winning champagne truffle made with exquisite Dom Perignon champagne, smooth butter cream and a rich dark cream ganache. Stay just walking distance from Confiserie at the Park Hyatt, right in the heart of Zurich.
New York is home to Jacques Torres Chocolate, also known as Mr. Chocolate and famous for ice-cream sandwiches and cookies. This is a truly artisan experience where cocoa beans are transformed into a rich handmade delicacy. Stay at Boerum Hill Apartments, only minutes from major sights including the Barclay's Centre, Prospect Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park.
In Paris, La Maison du Chocolat has turned chocolate into an art form. From macarons to rich praline, classic to world-class innovative techniques, it’s no wonder the chocolatier produces some of the world’s best chocolate. My Home for You Luxury Bed and Breakfast is just a stroll away.
An Aussie gem Zokoko at Emu Heights, is famous for rich chocolate made from heirloom cacao. Stay in 5-star luxury at Spicers Sangoma Retreat.
Phil Jarratt, Noosa Festival of Surfing director and author of numerous titles including Bali Heaven and Hell, reckons life is a box of chocolates. “Chocolate has always been associated with sex,” he says with a wry smile. “Even before Juliette Binoche’s slinky turn in Chocolat, a taste of good dark chocolate would put me in mind of a goodnight treat on the pillow of a magnificent bed in a five-star hotel in Paris, rather than a visit from the Easter bunny. A small delight, perhaps paired with a drop of favoured nightcap, then off to bed. In reality, however, I’ve never courted my wife (or any other woman, pre-her, for that matter) with chocolate. Why? because in the declining years of my grandmother and then my mother, there was nothing either of these dear old things could relate to better than a box of Cadbury’s Roses.”
“Even before Juliette Binoche’s slinky turn in Chocolat, a taste of good dark chocolate would put me in mind of a goodnight treat on the pillow of a magnificent bed in a five-star hotel in Paris …