Yet Another Excuse to Eat Chocolate--There's a new haven for chocolate lovers in the Northeast Heights with your mama's name written all over it. Not literally, of course, but your mother will probably love this place. Kocoa Tree is a chocolate boutique from the gals who own Glazed Hams and More (5850 Eubank NE), sisters-in-law Dianne Kennedy and Connie Kennedy-Windiate. The shop is conveniently located right down the street, in the old To Die for Fudge space in the shopping center at Eubank and Osuna (right next to the Barley Room). I walked in this weekend just as Dianne and Connie were stocking the shelves with gourmet chocolates, which they say will include house-made fudges and big, imported Belgian truffles. (They showed me a box--they're the size of golf balls.) There's also a quaint coffee bar area, and lots of gift basket filler like Gund stuffed animals and jewelry. Like I said, this place was made for moms. They should be open by now, but call them at 796-0102 to get the proper store hours.
Vinegar and I have a long, and occasionally sordid, history. I can remember my first vinaigrette dressing on a salad, and the very first time I ever sprinkled red wine on sautéed spinach—I was hooked for life. Then there was the time that cider vinegar was used as a weapon pointed straight at my 10-year-old potty mouth. My fifth grade teacher, Sister Mary Ruler-Smack (not her real name—I don’t want to get smacked again), was affronting my dignity yet again by requiring me to participate in group sing-a-long, at which point I decided to inform her that she “looked like my butt.” I was marched by my ear to the cafeteria area, where I was shoved into a folding chair to await my fate—it was either hold a bar of soap in my mouth for one minute, or drink a cup of cider vinegar. My choice seemed easy, but I was in for a nasty surprise.
The United States is succumbing to the dark side ... of chocolate. Just take a trip through the checkout lane for a frontline lesson in propaganda. There's no shortage of models pretending to gnaw on black, glossy squares, and headlines gush that it's OK to eat chocolate again--as long as its dark. The confectioners are listening, too. No longer content with dark chocolate's standard makeup of 50 to 70 percent cocoa solids, American chocolate manufactures have become downright sadistic in tweaking their cocoa content, as much as 87 percent or higher in some bars. It's enough to make the most devoted sweet tooths begin to feel bitter.