Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Soozcat and the Chocolate Factory

[NOTE: No Oompa-Loompas of any kind figure into this story, so if that's what you're looking for, feel free to exit through the marked doors on either side of the theater. Thankyoucomeagain.]

There are eight million stories in the naked city... but since I'm only dealing with clothed people for the nonce, here's my adventure.

It seemed like a beautiful day to visit the city.

So that's just what I did. Hello, city!

I drove past the Space Needle (with its current retro paint job)...

...and right on through Wallingford, heading for Fremont.

And why was I going to Fremont, you ask? Well, aside from being a fun and funky kinda place...

...with a fair amount of wild fennel growing in attractive fashion...

...Fremont is the home of the Theo Chocolate factory.

They give tours. And samples. Oh heck yeah I'm there.

Let's just follow the arrows, shall we?

To start the tour, you enter through these doors, pay a small fee, get a hairnet (yes, really) and put it on...

...and are then ushered through into this room.

There, your friendly tour guide talks about the process of turning raw cacao into finished chocolate bars, while several kinds of chocolate samples make the rounds. So by the time you're actually ready to venture forth onto the factory floor, everybody in the group is already on a mild theobromine high.

You open these double doors, and are struck by two things: 1) a sudden rush of warm air and 2) an overwhelming wave of raw, slightly acidic chocolate smell. Oh yeah come to mama.

You get to view a lot of funky machinery in action.

This is the mighty cacao roaster! The person who takes care of this checks it every now and then, because even though there's a particular amount of time involved in roasting the beans, it's more a question of being able to see and taste when they're done. It seems much more an art than a science.

This is a big vat of pure chocolate liquor. It smells incredibly good but probably wouldn't taste that great, because there's no sugar in it yet. That comes a little bit later.

After spending some time gawping at the machinery on the factory floor, we moved into the kitchen.

Here several workers were loading up some caramels to be enrobed in chocolate and sprinkled with fancy doodads. We were given the choice of several confections to try, and I picked something new they were working on: a chocolate caramel with licorice and sea salt that was really quite good.

Occasionally the folks in the kitchen make some chocolate sculptures for special events. The tree trunk with its leaves, pods and flowers is edible, as is the Buddha head. (Though I probably wouldn't just gnaw on Buddha's head. Bad karma and all that.)

As is often the case in these sorts of activities, you exit through the gift shop, where there are many delightful taste treats for sale.

Everything from pure cocoa nibs...

...to fancy-pants confections.

Theo produces a good dozen different chocolate bars, with various percentages of cacao and amendments.

These two have a special limited edition wrapper...

...celebrating 50 years of Seattle Center and the Space Needle.

Thanks, Theo! It's been fun! Now I'll be on a good chocolate buzz for the rest of the day. Plus I'm gonna run around using this attractive hairnet as a fashion statement. WHEEE! I'm THOR!


Anonymous said...

Hello Suzcat (love the pseudonym),

You may not remember me. We met at the PNWA Summer Writers' Conference. My name's Esther, and I belong to an online critique group to which I invited you.

I remember that you wrote a YA fantasy novel with a female MC who lives in a witch town in Massachusetts, but I don't remember the name of your novel (sorry).

It was not my intention to pester you on your blog, but your business cards didn't have an e-mail address for you!

Anyway my critique group is at critiquecircle.com, and my pseudonym there is esparhawk. If you decide to join this critique group, let me know what your pseudonym will be (you can e-mail me if you still have my business card or just comment my blog like I'm doing here), and I'll take a look at whatever work-in-progress you decide to post.

I look forward to reading your first chapter on Critique Circle, should you decide to join.


Soozcat said...

Hi, Esther. Yes, I remember you, and in fact still have your business card.

Unseen (which is definitely a work in progress) is being posted to this blog in installments, mostly to make sure I finish it before starting to rewrite.

I'll be stopping by Critique Circle in the near future. Thanks so much for coming by!