This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1.
Twenty-five years, and I don’t look a day older than one! Alas, I can’t say the same for my Travelling Companion. I spend most of my time inside a book (well, duh) while the TC sees the world. Read all about me and follow my blog posts to share my experiences as bookmark and travelling worm.
From time to time, I’ll say something meaningful. Like a t-shirt.
Today’s travel notes
It’s a pressing question in Sydney these days:
Where can I get a good chocolate?
The Travelling Companion and I have been scouting around to find the best chocolate shops and cafés in Sydney. As a conscientious worm, I feel it’s my civic duty to let you into some of Sydney’s chocolate secrets.
Head to the nearest Max Brenner shop forthwith. Because, as Napoleon is reported to have said when asked why he consumed so much chocolate, it is just yummy.
The book I’m in
Troy, Fall of Kings, by David & Stella Gemmell.
Guylian has just opened a spanking new chocolate café in Circular Quay. I was there last week, to check out this new addition to the Sydney chocolate scene.
Me at Guylian’s:
The TC was not overly impressed with the chocolate at Guylian’s. She’s a bit particular about her chocolate, is our TC. Rumour has it they plan to open a second shop in The Rocks very soon. Here’s the one in Circular Quay:
I go along with the TC and recommend Max Brenner in Manly. This chocolate café is a must for all chocolate lovers. It’s right in Manly Wharf. Just step off the Manly Ferry and straight into heaven:
Here’s some of the fare the TC and her friends saw spread before them at Max Brenner:
A Lindt Chocolat Café would be my second choice. There are two in central Sydney. The one in Martin Place resides in lofty elegance with Fabergé and a number of big names in the fashion world. I don’t have a photo to show you. (As you can probably guess from the attire in my picture, high fashion is not a world I frequent.) But the TC says that the dark hot chocolate drink is divine. The shop in Martin Place was the first ever Lindt Chocolat Café in the world.
Then they opened another in Darling Harbour, where the dark hot chocolate and rich cakes meet with equal approval from the TC:
As well as the cafés, Sydney has a number of take-away chocolate shops. Here’s Haigh’s in the Strand Arcade in George Street:
And here’s Darrell Lea also in George Street, on the corner with King:
Earlier I mentioned the snooty neighbours of the Lindt café in Martin Place. Darrell Lea has the new Apple Store for a neighbour. Handy if you need a quick iPhone consultation while you wait for your chocolate order:
I’ve inhabited many a health book which warns you off chocolate. It’s reputedly bad for your skin, bad for your weight, bad for your teeth and your heart… But I’ve also wormed my way through the online archives where people are saying chocolate is good for you. They say there’s no proof that chocolate causes pimples and it may even help to prevent tooth decay by killing off the bacteria.
Confusion reigns supreme. As it usually does.
Perhaps we can learn from history. Chocolate has been around a while. The Central Americans were the first to cultivate the cocoa tree, 1400 years ago. Even way back then, no-one knew what to make of the gift of the bean. Was it the curse of the Aztecs or the food of the gods? Quetzalcoatl, a god himself, was disgraced for passing the secret of chocolate down to humans. The humans, though, were suitably impressed with the gift — especially as it was a powerful aphrodisiac. So much so, that some societies forbade women to use it. Cocoa beans became a strong trading currency. One pumpkin was valued at four cocoa beans. One hundred beans could buy a slave.
Then the Spanish conquered Mexico, and took the magic bean back to Europe. But the Spaniards decided to keep it a secret. So when Dutch and English sailors found these strange dark little objects on captured Spanish ships, they mistook them for sheep droppings and turfed them overboard in disgust.
The rest of Europe finally caught on. Chocolate became the drink of royalty. Doctors recommended it as a cure for almost everything. But then, once again, people started to look askance at the stuff. It was not quite kosher — a drug from deepest, darkest America, an aphrodisiac at that, and perhaps its medicinal properties were a bit too potent for civilised mores.
Confusion was reigning supreme then too. All hail confusion.
Chocolate contains phenyl ethylamine, phenol, phosphorus, magnesium, theobromine, and trace levels of anandamide. Uh-huh…? Phenyl ethylamine is a mood elevator which acts directly on your central nervous system. At low levels, it makes you feel good. But it can also make you paranoid and it is addictive. Anandamide acts on the same pleasure receptors in the brain as marijuana. The other ingredients raise energy levels, increase concentration, improve your mood, and do other good things.
Me and Peg with chocolates by Jessica Walker, Belgian Chocolate Seashells and Coles Belgian mint chocolate:
What about the belief that chocolate is a potent love potion? Both Casanova and Sherlock Holmes downed mugs of cocoa for breakfast. So we must deduce that chocolate builds stamina in the brain cells as well as in the other bits. Elementary, my dear worm.
That’s all for today, dudes.