Plan B: Swiss Chocolate for Rosh HaShanah
After trying for weeks to get confirmation for our Rosh HaShanah reservation at the Pines in Fire Island–to pray in a new setting, to be with friends, to be at the beach, to have a break–we decided we had better go to our fall back option: Switzerland!
So it was chocolate that ultimately escorted us into Rosh HaShanah. Until the last two days of the Hebrew month of Elul, the final days of the old Jewish year 5770, my personal preparation for the High Holy Days had included private meditations, some journalling, daily chanting of Psalm 27’s Achat Shealti, and an online shofar blowing every morning.
Then chocolate took over.
The 28th and 29th of Elul brought us to Zurich where multiple chocolate opportunities finished off the year: beautiful, even snobby, chocolate shops of Teuscher, Sprungli, Schober, Truffe; four chocolate factories Camille Bloch, Halba, Maestrani and Cailler; multiple samples, freebies and purchases garnished the month’s meltdown into Tishrei with Yom Tov candle lighting on Wednesday evening. Appropriately Mark and I toasted Rosh HaShana with a grappa filled chocolate after kiddush at the Reform shul in Zurich. An interview with CEO, Daniel Bloch, and tour at Camille Bloch, a third generation family owned company, was certainly a highlight.
The local supermarket chain, Coop, displays a huge chocolate assortment.
The Halba and Maestrani factory stores offered great prices, but one of the Maestrani hazelnut bars contained rancid nuts. Very disappointing.
Mark’s Nisus work contact in Zurich, novelist and screenwriter, Anne Cuneo, pointed out a couple of chocolate places we would not have otherwise found, lamenting however, that none of them really have good chocolate anymore. It was a little like the old joke about the synagogues you don’t attend: this chocolate store is no good, that one is too expensive, that one used to be good, this one could be better, leaving us respecting her discernment but salivating for the good stuff. Instead, we settled for drinks because she just could not bring herself to patronize her beloved Schober chocolate store, recalling the former higher quality when the two sisters, now very advanced in age, who ran it after their father had, prepared everything in the back, and shared specialties with her.
Several people we met in Switzerland confessed to me that they do not like chocolate, yet Camille Bloch’s largest market is in Switzerland. And, several volunteered to us that they hate Hershey. (I had read something of the competition between Swiss milk chocolate and American Hershey milk chocolate–very different formulations, which was not so easy to develop in either case, and clearly strong opinions.)
Our decision to be at home in NYC for Yom Kippur with Noam and Rachel was most importantly about being with family. Had we stayed in Switzerland, avoiding the chocolate, plus the ubiquitous plum tart, (similar to our favorite family recipe but certainly not as good) would have been very difficult. As it was, I did a lot of atoning at Yom Kippur for all the chocolate, the cheese and the plum tart I had eaten in Switzerland.
How About Some Mindful Chocolate Tasting?
These days comforting chocolate seems more necessary than usual. You could just grab a bunch and stuff yourself to help (maybe?) you feel better. Of course, you could add the chocolate in to your cookies, cakes, and ice creams. Or, you could taste chocolate with a mindfulness that focuses your attention solely on the chocolate,Read more ›
Celebrating Ice Cream Month with Chocolate
When needing a new word for ice cream for the revitalized Hebrew language, Eliezer Ben Yehudah turned to the Torah. Actually, he opened the Aramaic translation of the Torah by Onkelos to Exodus 16:14. There the Aramaic uses “glidah” in the passage that describes how manna fell in the desert like a fine, flaky frostRead more ›
Choco-dar first erupted on our multi-country circuit of Europe in a VW van. That adult onset, self-diagnosed radar for chocolate experiences led us serendipitously to many wonderful chocolate discoveries and surprises. In the process I learned some chocolate travel tips. Chocolate travel generated the book and the website that I came to call On theRead more ›
Mothers and Survival by Chocolate
On the Chocolate Trail, I found amazing stories of mothers and chocolate from World War II. Immigrant Lisa Hoffman reminisced about how her mother insured she had the skills, including chocolate making, to survive. “I carried inside of me all of the lessons my mother had worked so hard to get for me. I could makeRead more ›
Some Previous Posts
(in alphabetical order)
- Announcing Second Edition: On the Chocolate Trail
- Bat Mitzvah Wants Fair Trade Israeli Chocolate
- Book Optioned: Museum Exhibit
- Chocolate Exhibit Hits the New York Times
- Chocolate Made My Lunch: Nashville
- Chocolate Trail Broadens: "Semi[te] Sweet: On Jews and Chocolate" Travels
- Chocolate, Coffee, Tea and Me
- Election 2016: Winning Fudge Brigadeiros
- Hunting for Chocolate: Fancy Food Show, NYC, 2016
- Mothers and Survival by Chocolate
- No End to Chocolate Exhibits Part III: Visits #3, 4 & 5
- Of Chocolate Exhibits There is No End: Part 2
- On the Chocolate Trail in Brooklyn
- Seriously Tasting Chocolate
- Super Food Chocolate for Super Bowl Sunday: Three Recipes
- Talking Chocolate in February
- That Time Jews Smuggled Chocolate to France — and a Recipe for Basque Chocolate Cake
- Warm Up: 3 Historical Drinking Chocolate Recipes