Here’s another Japanese candy from a local grocery.

These were chocolate-coated chocolate wafers. I thought I’d love them, but they were just OK. The chocolate was a much lighter milk chocolate than it appeared on the package. But I liked the name, which reminded me of the Simpson’s episode with “Gabbo!”, the ventriloquist’s dummy.


Form and function

I will admit that sometimes I buy a chocolate bar entirely because of its wrapper, and this bar is a perfect example.

I found this bar in my local Asian market. I loved the name of this bar, “Vessel in the Fog”, as well as the image of the boat, which is shown not in fog but against a beautiful sunset background. I didn’t expect to like the chocolate itself, but surprisingly, it was a very good milk chocolate. And I liked how the bar was aerated, filling the chocolate with thousands of tiny bubbles and making the bar extremely light.

Chocolate mushrooms

Every year for Christmas, my friend Lucy throws an elaborate Christmas party. She invites over a hundred people, uses a catering service and brings in a puppeteer to entertain the children (although I will admit I have watched the show a few times myself). I have brought a chocolate dessert to her party every year for the past fifteen years or more, and I always bring the same one, a chocolate meringue cookie shaped to look exactly like a button mushroom. These cookies take over six hours to make, so I rarely make them at any other time of the year.

Lucy surprised me in the fall of 1999 with a box of chocolate mushrooms from the south of France.

These were very good milk chocolate mushrooms. They didn’t contain meringue, but I really enjoyed the artistry and flavor of these treats. They made me want to travel to France to see these chocolatiers for myself, a trip I finally made in 2006.

Amazing French chocolates

My friend Lucy travels a lot, to Europe, Asia, South America and Australia. In the fall of 1999, she brought me some wonderful chocolates from France. First up was a variety pack from The House Of Chocolate in Paris.

The package contained a variety of milk and dark chocolate truffles, and they were fantastic. The chocolate flavor was intense, but they used just the right amount of cocoa butter to make the entire truffle melt in your mouth. And the package itself was beautifully wrapped and tied up with a ribbon from the store.

This was my first taste from this chocolatier, but it would not be my last.

Lucy also brought me some chocolate-covered grapes from the south of France.

These were amazing too. The grapes were not table grapes, but instead were a variety used to make wine. The sweet chocolate was wonderfully paired with their natural acidity, and the combination was exquisite. I don’t normally enjoy chocolate-covered fruit, but I loved these.

Pure hideousness

I started a new company in 1998 named Troika Games. Gary, a friend of mine and ex-coworker from a previous company, found this appropriately-named Norwegian candy bar the following year and gave it to me for my birthday.

I thought this would be a wonderful addition to my label collection, a candy bar with the same name as my new company. I opened the wrapper and bit into the bar…to taste one of the most hideous candy bars I had ever experienced! This bar is made from marzipan layered with fruit jelly and coated in milk chocolate. It was nasty! And the worst part is that the flavor stayed in my mouth for a long time, even after several glasses of water, until I finally ate some Altoids to get rid of it. Blech!

But I love the wrapper!

Chocolate at Club 33

In August of 1999, several of my co-workers and I celebrated our 33rd year on this planet by going to lunch at Club 33 at Disneyland. If you have never heard of this restaurant, I am not surprised. I had been to Disneyland numerous times and had no idea it existed. But if you are a member (and one of my co-workers was), you can make a reservation for lunch and dinner, and when you arrive at the park, you are given a complimentary one day pass.

Yes, eating at Club 33 let’s you visit the park itself for free!

The restaurant itself is amazing, from its unobtrusive entrance near the Blue Bijou, to its glass elevator from the lobby to the second floor, from the incredibly efficient and professional wait staff, to the delicious entrees and desserts. The day we went there was an all-you-can-eat buffet, with entrees such as lamb chops, lobster tails and a pasta station with its own chef, who would put together any kind of pasta, sauce and extras you would care to name. I went up to the buffet three times!

There was even an entire dessert table filled with cakes, pies, puddings, parfaits, cookies…a seemingly endless variety of sweets. My face must have dropped when I noticed there was not a single chocolate dessert, because a waitress stopped to ask me if anything was wrong. I mentioned the lack of chocolate, and she just smiled and pointed to the opposite wall, where an all-chocolate dessert table was placed. Yes, they had so many chocolate desserts that they gave them a table of their own! And at the end of the meal, they gave us chocolate tablets that tasted surprisingly minty, like an Andes mint.

After lunch, we waddled into the park, but after riding the Big Thunder Mountain roller coaster, we all agreed that we had eaten too much to go on any more rides. We went back to work, where I am sure I was useless for the rest of the day.