So much chocolate!

Lytteltonwitch having acquired a new car, she suggested an expedition today to introduce it to such wonders as hills and unsealed roads (its previous owner had only ever driven it around town on the flat, so the poor wee thing isn’t going to know what’s hit it, with the places Lytteltonwitch is likely to take it over the next few years…).  We decided on a trip out to Governor’s Bay, to the She Chocolate cafe, which Lytteltonwitch had acquired a voucher for, and which expires at the end of this month.
Roadworks on Dyers Pass and an event on in Lyttelton meant that the best route was going to be via Gebbie’s Pass, which conveniently took us through Tai Tapu, where we could stop off for a spot of giraffe hunting.  Don’t worry, we haven’t got in to big game hunting – it’s an art project: Christchurch Stands Tall. There are 99 sculptures of giraffes scattered around the city and surrounding area, each painted by a local artist or school group.  It’s become a game to try and visit them all, and I have a vague plan to try and release a book on each (or at least at each site – some of the small giraffes painted by schools are in clusters).  So, one down today (Native Son by Richard Wright), 60-ish to go…
At the She cafe we had what started out as an early lunch, but as we lingered over it for nearly two hours actually turned into a normal time lunch.  Shared platters of bread and dips and incredibly tasty chips (which turned out to be way too much food, but much too good to leave any on the plate, hence the lingering over it!), accompanied by hot chocolate that they make from cacao extract from beans they grind themselves.  It has no milk, and almost no sugar, so is an amazing hit of intense chocolateness.  SO GOOD!
And then, because we obviously hadn’t had enough chocolate yet, we shared a chocolate sampler platter that turned out to be what they called a chocolate journey – the platter came with instructions on how to eat it, starting with cacao beans (very bitter, and incredibly dry in texture), then slightly sweeter chocolate-coated cacao beans (if I hadn’t been so chocolated-out by the end of the meal, I would have been tempted to buy a bag of them to take home – wonderfully bitter-sweet mouthfuls), then three different types of single-origin bitter dark chocolate that is made from beans ground on site (along with a sample of the cocoa butter they extract during the grinding – though that was to rub on your hands, not to eat).  Then, increasing the sweetness again, a chocolate fondue with the suggestion to try dipping cheese and crackers in it along with the more normal strawberries.  Surprisingly, cheese dipped in chocolate is actually quite good.  Weird, but good.  And finally, a selection of flavoured chocolates and truffles – all of which seemed very sweet after all that chocolate from the bitter end of the scale!

Even though we were sharing the platter, cutting all the chocolates in half so we could both try them, it was a LOT of chocolate to get through.  I think I could actually have done without the last few truffles – I was definitely feeling like I’d had enough chocolate to last me a very long time, and any more would have just left me feeling sick.  But it was such a fun way to sample their wares, and led to some really interesting conversation as we attempted to identify mystery ingredients and detect the differences between the single-origin chocolates.
Even with the voucher it was still an expensive lunch, but definitely worth it – such a lovely day.
(I even managed to find a (slightly) themed release for the cafe: The Sugar Mother by Elizabeth Jolley)

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