Blog 44 - Fine Dark Chocolate



What image do you have reading these three words? Maybe indulgence, an after dinner expresso to stimulate the conversation, or you may picture Switzerland. If you look at my scarf closely, you will see the name Lehner. Indeed, my scarf is Swiss from a very old prestigious company, now taken over by an even older German textile company which has made handkerchiefs for nearly two hundred years.



My scarf is silk, vintage, well made, mainly dark bitter chocolate brown with a softer milk chocolate shade and luscious cream......could there be a hint of caramel there too? I am certainly being indulgent this morning as I write, still in my dressing gown, coffee in hand and nibbling on a couple of squares of dark choccie flavoured with tiny crunchy raspberry bits! It isn’t Swiss, but it has won an award from the Academy of Chocolate and is also Fairtrade. I think it is made in Germany. We used to have a chocolate boutique in Richmond, William Curley, who indeed was Master Chocolatier of the Year from the said Academy. My granddaughter bought me the gift of afternoon tea for two at his small Richmond shop but by the time I tried to book, William Curley had moved to a more central London location. I had intended to treat my partially sighted friend to share this treat, but the new destination was a step too far. I am still waiting to enjoy that afternoon tea which my granddaughter changed from Curley’s to a local posh hotel. Alas, with Covid restrictions, my gift voucher there has again run out. I do hope the hotel will honour the prepaid indulgent afternoon tea and there may be some chocolate treats. If so, I will wear my Lehner scarf which set off these thoughts today. I just hope I am not developing type two diabetes!



Let’s think about this scarf’s Paisley design. I could have taken you on a magic carpet ride to Kashmir. The nearest I have visited was the Swat Valley near the Kyber Pass in Northern Pakistan but that’s not exactly Kashmir. The weather has been very stormy this week and I don’t fancy getting stranded in the Himalayas trying to find a destination I have not visited before. You will understand that this design of swirling teardrop shapes originally came from Kashmir. We owe much of Britain’s interest in products influenced by Indo-European culture to the East India Company who introduced these very expensive shawls in this design woven in finest cashmere. Only the wealthiest ladies of the 18th century could afford such grandeur. The design was later copied in Norwich, Edinburgh and Paisley, a small town near Glasgow. They were less expensive than the Kashmiri ones and made from silk, wool and cotton. So many were produced in Paisley, that the town’s name gradually became the generic name for the design. Being a Scot myself, I can joke about a bit of cattle rustling and pinching another culture’s design and naming it Paisley! As for the future, who knows what kind of rustling will go on if Scotland votes for independence? So much talk of it with political elections this week. Will we be comparing Hadrian’s wall to Trump’s on the Mexican border? Will I be smuggling smoked salmon, whisky and Tunnoch’s teacakes across that wall? There I go again thinking about chocolate!



Now, I must set about booking that afternoon tea with a glass of bubbly, dainty sandwiches, freshly baked scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam.....but I guess it’s more likely to be a slice of torta al cioccolato than a Tunnoch’s teacake. If I can’t wait until after May 17th when the hotel will once more serve food inside, I may just take myself off to London to buy some William Curley chocolates in Harrods or if I am really brave, find his shop in Soho. Not sure about landing places there for the carpet though! Maybe I will just buy another bar of Fairtrade 70% cocoa locally in Oxfam for the same price as one hand crafted chocolate in Harrods! After all, my Divine bar did win that award in 2018, albeit only a Bronze.



Busy Bee, Scarf Face!

Series 2, Blog 44.

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