Archive for May, 2010

Join Choclatique in Honoring Our Fallen Heroes

Friday, May 28th, 2010

— Joan Vieweger, Co-Founder of Choclatique

This weekend our nation “celebrates” Memorial Day… you know, the 3-day weekend that marks the unofficial start of summer. The weekend of baseball, barbecues and blockbuster movie debuts. The weekend of legendary mattress, car and stereo sales for those who venture out and Law & Order, and NCIS marathons for all you couch potatoes.

Iraq War Memorial GardenWhat seems to get lost in all of the eating, watching and shopping is the real significance of the holiday… a day of remembrance and respect for those who died in service to our country. Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic; it was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. In 1971, as part of the National Holiday Act, Congress made the holiday a three-day weekend, a move the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) believes has “contributed greatly to the general public’s nonchalant observance of Memorial Day.”

This spring, I re-watched HBO’s excellent Band of Brothers series as the lead-up to the new series The Pacific. Though the docudrama was very compelling on its own, the video vignette interviews of the actual servicemen from World War I and World War II were moving beyond words. Even all these decades later, the pain of their experiences was evident on their faces, yet they were proud of their service of their fellow soldiers so many of whom never made the trip back home.

Fallen SoldierThose of us who have never served in the military can never begin to fathom what thousands and thousands of brave soldiers have endured—and are enduring—to protect us and our allies in conflicts. We owe these brave men and women—and their families—a debt we can never repay.

In December 2000, the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed in hopes of re-educating and reminding Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day. The resolution asks that at 3:00 PM local time, for all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.’” It would seem that this is the very least we can do to pay deep respect to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that we may live in freedom.

Memorial DayAt Choclatique, we proudly support the men and women of the military—past, present and future—who defend our country. We have been very fortunate to become acquainted with many troops currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. They and their families inspire us and help us put life’s little inconveniences into proper perspective.

If you find yourself compelled to watch a marathon this weekend, at least tune in to the AMC channel. Beginning at 9:00 AM, you can view 7 classic war films, including The Devil’s Brigade, The Enemy Below and To Hell and Back. But please… don’t forget to take a moment to stop and remember those who gave their lives defending ours.

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Red O?… I’m Ready-O!!

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Rick Bayless' new LA restaurant, Red O

— Joan Vieweger, Co-Founder of Choclatique

It was a Friday… like any other Friday until… I clicked open the e-message from Urban Daddy/LA. In a moment, my spirits were lifted as I read the headline that I would soon be able to enjoy Enchiladas and Tequilas from one of my favorites, Rick Bayless, in Los Angeles. My only disappointment was the Red O would not be open until the 26th of May, as I was looking for a great spot to share dinner with friends on the 22nd.

Azteca Milk Chocolate & Roasted Nibs TabletSo, what’s so special about Rick Bayless… and why am I writing about his new restaurant in a blog dedicated to all things chocolate? Quite simply, he’s nothing short of a culinary genius, he’s a really nice guy to boot and he loves chocolate, too! Some of his chocolate creations were the inspiration of our wonderfully rich and exotic Azetca chocolate available in our Bars section and select truffles as well.

I first became aware of Rick Bayless during one of my many trips to Chicago back in the late eighties. Chicago is one of the best restaurant cities in the country though, at the time, there wasn’t a lot of great Mexican or Latin cuisine in the mix (not withstanding some killer taco stands). Frontera Grill changed all that. Chef Bayless introduced vibrant flavors, bold colors and exciting textures from Mexico that, while foreign to most Midwesterners, created a buzz so intense that even one of his fabulous margaritas couldn’t extinguish it. Just two short years later, Topolobampo was born… an elegant sister to Frontera Grill located right next door. Chef Bayless educated Chicagoans about the regional flavors of Mexico and showed that the French have nothing on Mexico when it comes to fine cuisine.

Hot Drinking ChocolateWhile I could always count on finding a great chocolate dessert on either of Chef Bayless’ menus, his next creation—XOCO (slang for “little sister”), put chocolate front and center. Believe me, there’s nothing like quite being handed a rich and frothy cup of hot chocolate ground from Mexican cacao beans on a cold Chicago morning. It’s the perfect chaser for one of Rick’s sinful chocolate churros and is guaranteed to warm the cockles of your heart and other body parts, too. YUM! Of course, you can enjoy a similar sensation—piping hot or chillin’ out—with Choclatique’s beverage mixes, each made from real ground chocolate (no cheap cocoa powders here!).

I’ve never met the Chef, but after watching him on Top Chef Masters last year, seeing both his creativity and humility on display under pressure, I can’t wait to do so. So, rest assured that come Tuesday, I’ll be priming my dialing finger to get a table at Red O as soon as the reservations line opens!

Are you a Bayless fan, too? Let me know what you love about Chef Rick… and chocolate, too!

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