I can moan with the best of them that I have a busy life, full of stress and all the modern trappings. I could moan, but I won't. Well, maybe a little. I guess the overriding point here is that we all need a crutch in life, those handy little vices to get us through the mundanity of existence. Ok, it does appear I'm moaning, and quite extensively!
I hold my hands up; I'm a chocolate snob. I chastise and bemoan the use of the purple flagship brand and its rivals. I look down with disgust when someone speaks of "chocolate" only to reveal that they're really just talking about confectionery. No, I will not accept that the mainstream brands are permissible in their terminology - it's liars chocolate.
Last year, almost to the day, I sat in a busy London train station and dribbled over my phone as HuffPo UK Blogs Editor, Jody Thompson, posted a review of a spa. Now, I've never stepped foot in a spa in my life, but at that vulnerable moment, I could think of nothing else. I tweeted to Jody that I was going to draw attention to my specific place of worship.
Cocoba - Bluewater Shopping Centre
My personal place of solace can be found at Bluewater Shopping Centre - an establishment called Cocoba. In fact, I'm fairly sure that I shall hit the headlines one day as the guy that loses the plot and holds himself up in this very store and refuses to leave. My transformation into the Colonel Kurtz of chocolate will be complete as I recount tails of utter horror on the coco-battlefield. "You weren't there man" I shall scream as I'm dragged from the den of sweet dreams with my mouth laced with delicious looking silky mud. I really am that militant about chocolate. I view Willy Wonka as nothing more than an utter dilettante who needs to be taken down. Why does Cocoba, a place of unequivocal worship, hold such an allure? Well, a picture paints a thousand words... so allow me to paint a few thousand for you:
Yes, I kid you not; the desserts are the stuff of perverse fantasy. Even as I bash the keys of my laptop, the sides of my mouth tingle with an anticipation that cannot be upheld this evening. The creaminess of the melted chocolate as it oozes across cookie dough, or the unctuous playfulness of an oozing chocolate fondant... I really best stop myself.
I would like to take this opportunity to salute those that gave up chocolate for lent or The British Heart Foundation's Dechox, I honour you as I in no way took part and quite probably never will. Your sacrifice in giving up chocolate is a supreme one and surely deserves an even greater reward of your choosing. Now that you've experienced abstinence, what better time to set new habits with your intake? You can savour and eat less by going for better quality chocolate. Go for 70% or over and it's practically health food.
I have to point out my reasons for highlighting Cocoba, this saucy establishment; I'm in no way affiliated. Am I looking for freebies? Well... no, but... no! But a guy can dream. In actual fact, my passion for proper chocolate is matched by my passion to support local and independent businesses. When Easter gets monopolised by the giant companies that stamp out banal chocolate products then I feel it's my duty as a choco-militant to raise awareness to just one of many small companies that puts out chocolate with character. Who knows, maybe I can bolster my status and become a chocolate reviewer? I'll just stare into the middle distance for a moment thinking about that...
Part of me doesn't wish to draw attention to Cocoba. A big part of me wishes to keep it a secret. As the world faces chocolate extinction, I fear that each bar, each truffle, each pot of pouring chocolate is worth more than gold. I really will be that apocalypse predicting, cellar dwelling, odd-ball madman that chooses signature salted truffles over tinned goods. I will, and am, very protective over my stashes. The day we run out of chocolate is the day I'm off the mars.
I now have to address hot chocolate: I have a league table. I have tried every homemade and shop bought hot choc that one can legally buy. Cocoba has something that not even a dream could deliver on. With signature drinking choc to take home, or the in-store vats of pourable seduction, I have never experienced such utter chocolate porn. It really needs experiencing to be believed.
Mmm, Hot Chocolate
In conclusion, I guess what I'm really saying is don't look at Cocoba, and don't go and indulge in their sublime stock - it's all mine! I know I could share, but, I can't take the chance. If we are going to face a global chocolate drought, then I prepared to get dystopian and go a bit Mad Max - and I will do it!
I would urge more people to stray from the beaten path of the generic brands and explore the finer side of chocolate. There are so many superior quality and affordable alternatives to the mainstream, and what better time than to find Cocoba or a similar local connoisseurs' outlet? Now, enough talking, let's go nuts.