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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Be Distinct

More often than not, prepared food is reviewed on the basis of archetypes. Most restaurant reviews and subsequent discussions center are dishes that can be found in common - hence never-ending hairsplitting over minutiae of the ideal steak, hamburger, banh mi, spaghetti, pizza, General Tso's chicken, pad thai, brisket, burrito, or California sushi rolls. In a vicious cycle, restaurant proprietors feel trapped within these archetypes, and seldom venture out to producing items distinct and unique for fear of disconnecting with prospective customers.

Thus, discovering dishes of distinction is a phenomenon to be celebrated.

Cup of awesome. Drinking chocolate from Cafe Luz. 
I've written before that what most people call hot chocolate is actually hot cocoa. Fact is, hot drinking chocolate is a very rare thing to find most places in America, much less in our little corner of Houston.  For the colder months, Cafe Luz is offering drinking chocolate, and it is very much the real thing. Rich, thick, and wonderfully restrained in sweetness, this is the sipping beverage that warms the soul and calms the mind. Treated this way, the complexity of the chocolate blooms, and one appreciates the multitude layers of flavor with every sip. Don't quaff this, take your time.

About the only thing that would complete the experience would be some hot churros.

As a bonus, I learned that the chocolate itself was roasted and prepared in the Houston area. Tejas Chocolates are based out of Spring, and are not (only) chocolatiers, but also chocolate makers. They import beans, roast and process them here to make their single source bars (also sold at Cafe Luz). I don't subscribe to the "local for local sake" ideals, but I do agree that the time is ripe for artisanal attention to chocolate preparation. Chocolate making joins in synchrony with the passion of the emergent artisanal coffee movement, the burgeoning craft beer brewing industry, and the mature cheese and wine industries. Surely, a market for the possible range of possible flavors, textures, and applications for distinct chocolate products can develop in Houston and beyond.

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