Good Finds · Recipes

Thee, Thou, Whilst, Whence

She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;

I mean, really.  End of game. Winner-Lord Byron! You can’t beat this. You remember in the movie “Dead Poet’s Society”…the boys are huddled in the old indian cave having their Dead Poet’s meeting…the girls appear (surprise!) and Charlie recites this Lord Byron poem, passing it off as his own, slick dude that he was. Swooning by ding-a-ling girls ensues.
In another scene from the same movie, Robin Williams is in the classroom and is expounding the virtues of poetry….what is it used for? Communication? No, to woo women! Or think about the first Sex in the City movie (the good one). Ever Thine, Ever Mine, Ever Ours by dear Beethoven. Can someone please tell me how Hallmark surges on and this stuff has been virtually left in the dust? Hallmark needs Beethoven, that much is painfully clear.
Poetry. Now here’s something that is completely underrated in society these days and is seemingly forgotten outside of academia. But honestly…when you come across a poem and actually pause and take the time to process the words you are reading…it just knocks your socks off. So poetic of me, huh? Poor Lord Byron is probably rolling over in his grave somewhere right now. But really…you think, why am I not reading this more? Why is it not everywhere for everyone to see? At least I do. A well-crafted poem is a thing to marvel. It brings so much beauty and thick thoughts to the forefront of my brain that I can hardly stand it. Talk about capturing emotions. Conjuring atmosphere and ambience. It’s like music and candlelight all rolled into one. Let’s pop open a bottle of bubbly and just call it an evening.
As Robin Williams also mentioned about poetry…we let it drip from our lips…The Romance. The Love. Does anything scream Valentine’s Day more than that? There is a candy bar company out there at the moment called Choco-Love. In each candy bar (deelightful chocolate, by the way. Sold at Whole Foods) the wrapper contains a pretty lengthy poem, romantically themed of course. They are hitting on something here…pair chocolate and poetry. Brilliant. It’s about flippin’ time someone latched onto this one.
Caroline Kennedy has a new book out now that, frankly, I just have to get my paws on. It’s called, aptly enough, “She Walks in Beauty”. This is a compilation of favorite poems reflecting the journey of womanhood. Even the cover is enticing and beautiful…there’s a big, vibrant, salmon-colored peony on the front set against a turquoise blue background (I’m a color-hound. Ask any of my friends. There is no “blue” in my world…there’s turquoise,azure, cerulean, robin’s egg…I went to art school AND grew up with the 64 box of Crayolas. ‘Nuff said.). There’s a little bit of everything in here…modern poetry, classic, romantic. All different subjects, all different tones. All wonderful. Give it to someone you love. Read it to someone you love. If you are squeemish, then just write some of the poetry to someone you love. It all gets the point across the same way in the end….And make sure you pair it with some chocolate, of course.
Naturally, I would be remiss and highly inconsiderate if I just left you out there, waving in the breeze, wondering what kind of chocolate to pair with a dash of fine, sigh-inducing poetry. Well, Bark of course. And that could not sound more un-poetic if I tried. So, let’s call it ” La Barque” and French-it-up a little. Ah, much better, n’est pas?
La Barque is far easier than you think and the possibilities are endless. I give it all the time to friends at Christmas and rarely make the same batch twice. The only key to great La Barque, and I stand by this with all my recipes, is that you use great ingredients. Fine chocolate, my friend. No Hershey’s (gasp), no chocolate that you find in the baking aisle of the food store. Go for a chocolate called Callebaut or Valhrona…strangely enough, you can buy it in large blocks that are shrink-wrapped at Stop and Shop. Who knew. A big block is about $10, but they are all different sizes, the chunks, so you can buy what you need. Also, Trader Joe’s sells big blocks of chocolate and theirs is really silky smooth and tasty too.
So, La Barque…here’s another thing I’ve discovered. Yes, you can use a double-boiler contraption or the hovering, sweating bowl on top of a saucepan method, but I’ve found that if you chop up your chocolate (big block here…1 lb. +), put it in a pan with a little pat of butter, keep the heat on the low end, stir continuously and watch it like a hawk, you don’t have to do the double-boiler thing and it all works out just fine. No seizing, no chocolate badness.
So, you now have your melted chocolate…take a jelly-roll pan (a cookie sheet with sides) that you have covered with aluminum foil, pour your melted chocolate in the jelly roll pan and spread it all around. Not too thin because no one likes thin La Barque. At this point, while it’s still all hot and melty (yeah, baby), you can scatter any toppings you like. A big hit this past Christmas was chopped up pieces of Crystallized Ginger and orange rind. You can also do toasted almonds and toasted coconut (uh, like the best Almond Joy bar you’ve ever had). Or dried cherries and a drizzle of white chocolate. Party on…have fun. See what mood you are in and I’m sure something fabulous will come of it! Just don’t forget the poetry.
(I apologize for the lack of spaces in this post. The format was not cooperating with me and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how to fix it. Also, stay tuned for a recipe coming soon for an actual meal…can you believe it? Not a dessert but food with nutritive value. Amazing!)
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