Thursday, October 31, 2013

October Favorites

1) Chanel N° 5 Bottle - I don't much like the way Chanel N° 5 smells. However, it is a historical and iconic fragrance. I happened on an empty bottle at an antique store, and the emptiness suits me just fine.

2) Pink Macaroon Case - A little trinket I have around, this little macaroon opens up like a box. In all the time I've had it, however, I still haven't found the right thing to put inside.

3) Green Tights - I wanted a pair of plain green (versus light green or neon green or dark green or olive green) tights last year; I saw the right shade at Anthropologie, but they were gone when I went to get them. They turned up again this year, so here they are.

4) The Illustrated Silmarillion - Time to show off. I used to ogle this copy of The Silmarillion at Barnes & Noble when I was younger; Ted Nasmith isn't always my favorite Tolkien illustrator, but the work he did for this book is gorgeous and often breathtaking. When I finally got the book a few months ago, it was like going back to my early memories of these stories. (By the way, if you call yourself a Tolkien fan and have not yet read The Silmarillion, go read it.)

5) Rose Soap - I'm taking a break from local soap with this floral one from Santa Fe. The company specializes more in lavender. The rose scent is a little more perfumy than I like, but it's still nice and the soap is good quality.

6) Trader Joe's Harvest Blend Herbal Tea - For a low price, this tea smells like fall and the holidays. It has cinnamon, ginger, hibiscus, chamomile, chicory, orange peel, and apple. And it has a cute fox on the front.

7) Brown Boots - You know, I've never really had a tall pair of boots. This is surprising considering how popular they are. This season, however, I finally picked out a good quality, comfortable pair in a versatile style and color. Whether with pants or a dress, they have the right look.

8) Darth Vader Dress - Hee; hee. Hee; hee. This is the part where you either roll your eyes or get excited. Or possibly both. Given that I knew I'd be at a Halloween-type event but not a costume one, I decided to give in and get this Her Universe dress from It isn't quite a costume, and depending on how you wear it, can look more or less like regular clothing. You can't tell from the picture, but the skirt is A-line.

9) Plaid Dress - Sometimes you see a piece of clothing that you really like, but it's more than you want to spend. That's how it was with this dress. Then I just happened to be at Dillard's when they had an extra sale on reduced merchandise, so this dress came out at an incredibly low price. I call it my country librarian dress.

10) Felt Pumpkin Purse - Almost all the time this month, I have been using my pumpkin purse. It isn't the most convenient purse, but it's fun to have around. Happy Halloween.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Numi: Chocolate Pu-erh Tea

Green tea, black tea, herbal tea, or whatever else we call tea these days--I like a variety of it. Drinking tea once or twice a day, I'm also going through a lot. So when I see something that looks good, I get it. And I do particularly like to keep up on the popular chocolate teas, which led me to this Chocolate Pu-erh tea from Numi.

Numi isn't a brand I find myself buying, but when I do occasionally have something like their mint tea, it strikes me as quality. Good flavor isn't surprising considering that Numi is an organic brand. But, as you can see from this box, they don't flaunt their status. The box does contain information on their commitments to being friendly to the environment and to fair labor, along with a little info on pu-erh tea. But the front of the box is just about telling you what kind of tea it is. It's simple and straightforward. I had never had pu-erh tea, but this variety looked appealing. 

This tea steeps for three to five minutes. I brew it on the strong side, so that it looks almost like black coffee. While Numi's regular pu-erh tea says that it can be enjoyed with or without milk, the chocolate version does not mention milk or sugar; I therefore stuck with my usual habits and added nothing. And you know what? It doesn't need anything. With the first sip, I was struck by the rich chocolate flavor. It might just be the strongest out of any chocolate tea I have had before. A glance at the ingredients reveals something new: cocoa powder. Don't most chocolate teas use cocoa nibs? Interesting. Besides the two main ingredients, there are also vanilla beans, rooibos, cinnamon, orange peel, and nutmeg. Of course, it's all organic. This combination of flavors is just enough to enhance the chocolate taste without overtaking it with secondary tastes. 

Admittedly, the first cup I had tasted of bitter and earthy pu-erh tea; it's a flavor to get used to if you've never had it before. But by the second or third cup, it tasted completely normal and I could go back to focusing on the chocolate. This tea is a better chocolate experience than many hot chocolates. The depth of the tea goes well with the idea of dark chocolate. It's a rich drink without having the solidity of a cup of thick drinking chocolate. It just feels good to drink, you know? If you're interested, you can go read about the health benefits of pu-erh tea. If not, it's just a nice chocolate tea to add to your repertoire. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Soaring Over Arizona

I have lauded Out of Africa Wildlife Park before; you can read some of those thoughts here. But today I enjoyed one of their newer offerings: the Predator Zip Line.

The funny thing is, not too many of the locals have tried it out yet. Some people just didn't know it was open yet; others just don't pay enough attention to what's in their own backyards, I guess. Being that I consider Out of Africa to be located in a beautiful piece of land, this attraction is perfect. You are put with a group (ours was big: about twelve people) for up to two and a half hours. First you harness up, then ride over to the first tower.

This is also the tallest tower, which you ascend through a series of stairs. Up top come the nerves when you realize that you have to jump into the air--right over a couple of big cats, no less. As you go along through the different towers and wait for your turn, your guides not only keep you hooked up to the wires but also share info on the animals you're seeing. While a regular visit to the park entails trying to spot the animals in their habitats, you're right above them on the zip line towers. You can look around and basically see the entire park, along with the beautiful green and blue surrounding land and a peek at Sedona's Red Rocks. It's gorgeous.

There were about four zip lines. I was perhaps a bit disappointed today to be such a small person: I didn't go very fast. It gets quite comfy hanging out in the open, so you're tempted to just spread out and enjoy it. But I didn't want to spread out too much because that slows you down. And even with my best efforts, I did get stuck going down the last one. But that just gave me an extra moment to take in the scenery and say hello to the zebras right below me. It was peaceful. I also enjoyed being so close to the bear cubs on, I think, the second line.

Scenery, beautiful animals, group dynamics, mild fall weather, and a little adrenaline made for a lovely morning. We were the only locals in the group. So I just have to say, whether you're coming in from out of state (or out of country) or you live nearby, this is something you'll want to see. I'm proud to have such a park so close by.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Walt's Wisdom Compiled

I've just been reading such notable literature of late. First it was William Shakespeare's Star Wars; now it's The Quotable Walt Disney. That's the great thing about being done with school: I can catch up on reading random things that I am interested in. This little paperback came from World of Disney last month. While biographies and hardcover coffee table books are pricey, this one was only about twelve dollars, which I consider a good value. 

The book is slim at around 260 pages; each page has either one long quote or two to three shorter quotes. For easier browsing, the quotes are separated out into sections--on films, the parks, family,  America, television, and so on. A picture of Walt in different settings or with different people opens up each section. So the format itself is accessible, organized, and attractive. Dave Smith (who is also director of the Walt Disney Archives) did a good job at all of that.

But it's the words themselves that make this book such a joy. It wasn't by chance that Walt Disney became so famous and accomplished so much: he had a good philosophy and he stuck to it. He had the right values of teamwork, dedication, ambition, steadfastness, and gratitude that just make the world better. He understood the impact what he did would have. And that's how it is with any individual: all actions have their results. Creatively, this book is inspiring. But it is also inspiring scientifically and personally and whatever else. It makes me think back to what I love about Disneyland or my favorite Disney films. Because it's just a book of quotes, it also has no fluff. Walt's wisdom is all it has and all it needs. Thank you, Mr. Disney. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Julia Baker Confections - Part 2

The first time I stepped into Julia Baker Confections, I came out with cake truffles only. So when I was near the shop again, I went for a slightly different angle. While my general reaction was about as positive as it was last time (you can read about that here), I do have one complain to get out of the way first. You see, I just figured out what a cafe mocha is: it's coffee with chocolate in it. I had a good version at Wildflower and a pretty good version in Downtown Disney. So I thought I would try Julia Baker's version. If chocolate is her specialty, that must mean this drink'll be great, right? Not really. The coffee part was good, fresh and rich, but the chocolate element was hidden under the coffee. As a coffee drink, it was fine--but I wanted a chocolate coffee drink. 

I also picked out two chocolates. Since I had the dark version of the Cake Truffle before, this time I chose the milk version and the Irish Creme ganache, which is the blue and green plaid square. But let's start with the cake truffle. Besides the milk chocolate outside, it has red velvet cake on the inside. This cake is flavorful, with that recognizable sweet yet tart berry taste. Like in the other truffle, the cake is fairly dense as compared with boxed cakes but not on the level of a flourless chocolate cake. While I would have expected to have a cream element added in the form of a white ganache or even a little white chocolate, the milk chocolate is capable of picking up the balance. The milk chocolate also, I might add, has its own tart flavor notes in addition to its sweetness; in other words, it's good quality. This is definitely a creamer, sweeter version of the dark chocolate cake truffles. The use of red velvet adds uniqueness and depth to it. I would probably still pick the dark version over the milk one, but both are nice; it's just going to be personal preference that chooses one over the other. 

As for the plaid Irish Creme, the little square almost looks small compared to the fat cake truffle, although the creme is average in size. The Irish element, as you can guess, comes from Bailey's, and the alcohol element comes in right away. While it's definitely there, it isn't overpowering. And although it's the ganache that contains the Bailey's, the ganache is also the sweetest element. The average-darkness dark chocolate, therefore, sets up a dessert-like sweet/rich duality when paired with the sweet ganache. It's sophisticated, but not snobby or inaccessible--by which I mean that it isn't bitter. There is also a hint of caramel to the flavor. Being so smooth, I almost want to say that the ganache is too smooth, although it doesn't quite cross the line. The chocolate, however, is the right thickness to hold the ganache without being too thick. Put together, it's all nice.

So I'm still happy, in a general sort of way. For posh confections, I'll probably go to Julia Baker Confections again. But I won't go for a deep cocoa experience . . . or for a cafe mocha.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Once Upon a Dream

Note that this post may contain spoilers of the current episodes of Once Upon a Time and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Click for my thoughts on Season 1 and Season 2.

We're now four episodes into the third season of Once Upon a Time (which airs on Sundays) and two episodes into its spin-off, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (which airs on Thursdays). And my reactions to these six episodes are not quite what I expected. For simplicity's sake, I will refer to the shows as Once and Wonderland.

Because of certain weakening points (versus the clear plot of Season 1) in Season 2, I was expecting that it was too early to start a spin-off and stretch the universe too far too soon. However, Wonderland has come off to a strong start, especially considering that shows can have a shaky one or two episodes to start. Although Once has some good actors, the acting quality in general seemed better in Wonderland; in fact, the production value as a whole was high. It was sleeker, as if it had learned from experience. Whether or not it has a plot that can last has yet to be seen.

Once, on the other hand, did not get off to a particularly strong start with the opening episode. There was little plot, which didn't always give the actors much to work with. But it was exciting to finally reach Neverland after all the Neverland hints in Season 2. After what I just said about the varying qualities of acting (some of it is great, some is good, and some is . . . not), I'm delighted by the casting of Peter Pan. I thought his henchman, Felix, was alright, but Peter himself is fantastic. Even though he is a young actor, he has weight to his performance, almost like Robert Carlyle as Rumplestiltskin. So that scene they had together tonight, that was amazing to watch. Two volatile characters at each other's throats through words. If I can see more of that type of thing in this show, I'll be happy.

The writers said there would be some sort of crossover between the two shows, but they weren't very specific. For some reason, I was expecting Wonderland to take place years before Once--back in the Hatter's old days in Wonderland. I even started a half-formed idea that Alice would be the his wife: we've gotten hints about her story, but haven't heard it yet. But the timeline is more modern, with fairly recent flashbacks--except that Alice is from the past, just like Bae went back to the past (London) before coming to the present. All of this time of timeline treatment, along with the traveling between worlds, has been making this universe more like a place of time travel. It's very different from how the show began a couple years ago, but as long as both shows maintain uniqueness, I suppose it isn't a bad thing.

I have one last topic to touch on. Although this theme is completely unrelated between the two shows, it has enough similarity that I wonder if it will provide unity between the two in the future. Both shows have introduced the concept of changing magic. In Once, Peter has told Henry that he is the one Peter has been waiting for because it is Henry who will be able to keep magic from fading and to imagine more into Neverland. Over in Wonderland, the Red Queen wants Jafar to help her so that she can manipulate magic to do something or other that doesn't currently fit into magic's rules. The question, of course, is what she wants to do: probably there is some complicated backstory to explain it. Given that magic has always been a pretty stagnant thing in this universe, except that it exists in some worlds but not others, the appearance of this new development in both shows must be significant. (There also seems to be something starting with dreams, but it's still in the early stages.)

I suppose that's all for now. I'll definitely give more feedback at the end of the season, but perhaps also at significant points like the mid-season break. We'll see. Until then, I'll enjoy watching Peter Pan, young/adult Bae, and Rumplestiltskin and Cyrus and Alice.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Watching the Green Monitor

You will recall my comments back in February when the Keychain Productions short film, Monitor, came out for rental online; you can read those here. Here we are now in October, with the timely appearance of the film on YouTube. It's just in time for Halloween, aye?

Because, yes, this film is on the horror side of genre--but not in a gruesome or bloody sort of way. Technically you might call it terror since we only get hints, toward the end, of what "it" is that is frightening; horror means that you are face to face with your fear. Technically. 

I've already put down my initial thoughts on this video. Let me add, however, that it was strangely delightful to be able to watch the film again after so many months. The color palette is just beautiful and the mood is so exact. Because I don't usually go for horror movies, I like having this shorter one to put in my Halloween collection. Just two more weeks left for the season. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Godiva: Pumpkin Truffles

Pumpkins, pumpkins, how did the lucky things win out? They're the decoration that gets to be around the longest, except perhaps for Christmas decorations. Pumpkins can simply stand for Fall, or for Halloween and Thanksgiving. So while the skeletons make way for the turkeys when October transitions to November, the pumpkins get to stay.

Godiva is right, then, to offer a pumpkin truffle. But do note that the orange foil paper, felt leaves, and wire stems lift the price above the five-truffle standard to $15. That's three dollars apiece, which is all the way on the upper end. So you must want them not only for eating, but also for decorating, otherwise the price is iffy.

But, you know, I don't know if I mind that little compromise: they are nice flourishes of Fall color. In the plastic box, they're a bit prim; but outside, they're festive and even handmade. I'm not used to Godiva's offerings looking handmade, so this is a bonus. 

Each pumpkin is a standard milk chocolate truffle with a pumpkin spice center instead of the usual inside. The seasonal outside doesn't reflect at all on the little truffle--unless, of course, you use the foil as a serving plate the way I did. 

Since this is standard Godiva milk chocolate, let's move on to the filling. It doesn't taste quite like the "good pumpkin pie" that everyone makes from the can labels. It tastes closer to the filling on grocery store pumpkin pies; this means that it is less pumpkin-tasting and more general oil-tasting. And by oil, I really don't mean the worst: I don't mean oil like in cheap pizza, but oil as in that wetter texture of lower quality pumpkin or pecan pies. It isn't exactly terrible, but because of this whole tangent it brings up, neither is it entirely pleasant. The fact is, it just isn't the best. 

The truffles taste like pumpkin and like the standard pumpkin pie spices. They also taste like milk chocolate; and for this being milk chocolate, the truffles aren't overpoweringly sweet. In a casual way, it all works. But, no surprise there, I wouldn't say it's up to par. I want a recipe more delicate and a filling more refined. I'll eat the truffles and share them, but I prefer to think of them as little chocolate pumpkins for decorating. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Shakespeare Wrote Star Wars?

Perhaps you have been seeing this book around? William Shakespeare's Star Wars? Does that ring a bell? Does it just sound like a coffee table or gift book, not something to read and enjoy? Well, well, well, let me tell you otherwise. 

In case you have forgotten, I love Star Wars but feel lukewarm toward Shakespeare. But since I love books, I nabbed this one, if only for the cover. Seriously, isn't that a great cover? And while I'm at it, let me give a shout out to Nicolas Delort, who did the illustrations for this book. I know there aren't a huge amount of illustrations, but the only place I could find the illustrator's name was on the publication page. So let me here thank him for his ability to combine Shakespearean imagery with Star Wars in a mixed, almost comic book style. Besides the cover, I especially love Jabba the Hutt.

This book, as one might have guessed, isn't about comedy or parody; it just makes sense. Star Wars being such a classical story, it reads much like a Shakespeare play with all its drama. Ian Doescher translated the dialogue we all know into iambic pentameter, adding in some Shakespearean phrasing and metaphors and soliloquies and such. And it works perfectly. Because we already know what's going on and what everyone is saying, you don't have to work at all to understand them. (And, let's face it, this book isn't as complicated as many a Shakespearean play can be, especially when you're unfamiliar with the story.) So the base is the same, but the lavish details piled on top give a new and rather beautiful perspective. This book made me love Star Wars all over again. 

Even though I said it was so easy to read, if you're completely unfamiliar with Shakespeare or you really, really hate reading him, you might not have the same experience. But if you're a Star Wars fan and feel even slightly more friendly to Shakespeare than that, you should do fine. This book is that wonderful. I wonder what it would be like in a classroom . . . 

Hurrah, then, William Shakespeare's Star Wars is not a coffee table book. It is one to admire on the shelf and in the hand. This book covers Episode 4; perhaps that means there will be more in the future? 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Contemplating Shifting Seasons

Arizona has hit the first October cold spell, which means snow in Flagstaff and beach weather (70's) around Phoenix. It's refreshing to currently be right in the middle, after four years in the greater Phoenix area for college. That is, it was sort of shocking to go outside today and feel that it was so cold already. I didn't spend all four years solid in the Valley of the Sun, but I missed a lot of season transitions from being there. (Phoenix has its own season transitions, which can be rather entertaining, but they're unique.)

I was getting used to the idea of October meaning comfortable weather. But now October means time to bring out the pants and occasional sweaters and to put away the sandals. My toes were cold on Sunday morning in their little sandal wedges; I told myself, no more. And today, the day it snowed in Flagstaff, I hugged my sweater indoors.

It's like it's my first summer to fall transition in a very long time. Phoenix has gentle, ebbing transitions accompanied by the odd day--like a 40 degree day alongside a 70 degree day. But now I can wake up to mornings cooling and see the trees turn orange and look forward to snake season ending. I can step outside and breathe in cool air under a warm sun. I can layer on scarves. I can let my skin cool and transition my gaze from the blaring sun above to the cool earth beneath.

More than this, I feel freedom. It's the freedom to observe all of this, unfettered by the city world. For it isn't the natural side of Phoenix that bothered me; it wasn't the heat, but the city that I didn't care for. Today I am invited back to the natural world.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Halloween Candy Selection

Last week, I investigated the more middle-range Dead Sea Salt Chocolate bar; today I bring the Halloween telescope back down to the candy level. I managed to find three candies with a specific Halloween twist--not including a bag of, I believe, Hershey's kisses, that I decided not to get (at least for now). In green, purple, red, and orange, the candies don't really give off a traditional Halloween vibe. Just squint and you won't even be able to tell that's the holiday they're celebrating.

Let's begin with the Starburst Candy Corn. I don't favor candy corn much. I just like to have a couple pieces a year, and I have already taken those from a store's candy bowl. So I was more interested in the bags of flavored candy corn this year. Starburst seemed a less traditional enough combination that I might like it. There are four flavors/colors: strawberry, orange, lemon, and cherry. While the candies are slightly moister and softer than regular candy corns, they do taste much like Starbursts. Because the "material" of Starbursts has been too much for me these days, I enjoyed having their flavor in a different format. For a fruity twist on the classic candy corn, I think these work. 

Now on to the chocolate candies. As candy bars go, I like Milky Ways. Here we have minis in Caramel Apple flavor. The cashier assured me that I wouldn't want to give them out to trick-or-treaters (I wasn't planning to, anyway) because they taste so good. And you know what? I see what she meant. This is still a candy, with the same chocolate, the same nougat, and the same caramel we're used to. But the added flavoring gives it a more sophisticated feel. Instead, however, of calling if Caramel Apple, I'm tempted to call if Spiced Apple. All of the warm, holiday spices really take over the other flavors so that I don't necessarily think of caramel while I'm eating. But I suppose Caramel Apple sounds more Halloween than Spiced Apple; Spiced Apple could be a nice Thanksgiving offering. This makes one more candy I'm essentially pleased with. 

While Cadbury Cream Eggs are an essential part of Easter for many people, I don't get them very often. I also figured out this year that I prefer the chocolate variety: the chocolate cream is less sweetly sticky than the regular kind. I've never had Scream Eggs before, and I'm uncertain whether or not I find the concept on the cute or gross side. That green color isn't exactly the most appetizing. 

I have managed, just for you, to take a picture of this egg's inside without making a complete mess. While it is, naturally, not nearly so perfect as the picture on the box, the swirl of green is intriguing. The box also assures everyone that, while the creme is green, it has the same taste as always. And that's really all I need to say. If you've had a creme egg, you know how sticky and gooey and sweet they are without tasting like anything but creamy sugar and very sweet chocolate. Honestly, I'm still not won over . . . but I like that there is some sort of twist, anyway. It would be better, though, if Cadbury also added a flavor in addition to the green. 

Considering that these are among the best Halloween specific candy offerings available at the average store, the selection really isn't great. But considering what else is on hand (bags of regular KitKats and Smarties), I'm glad that at least Candy Corn, Starburst, Mars, and Cadbury have done something different. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Hillywood Pirates Return

Once upon a time*, The Hillywood Show heavily featured Jack Sparrow. They never directly and singly parodied Pirates of the Caribbean, but Jack and Will were constantly there throughout the original episodes, moving through the stories of different movies. Jack Sparrow is classic Hillywood, even if he is from their early days.

At last, however, there will be a new Pirates parody. We were all, I think, half expecting a video when On Stranger Tides came out, but sometimes timing just doesn't work out. And I think POTC was a big enough thing that it doesn't matter if it's been a few years since the last movie came out: we'll all still be excited to see what The Hillywood Show does with it this time.

As they have done a couple of times in the past, Hilly and Hannah have started a GoFundMe for the parody, complete with different prize levels. Because they're sure to use their funds wisely, click here to donate. Thar be adventures and salty old pirates ahead.

*Who else is looking forward to Once Upon a Time tonight?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Forte's Heartfelt Delivery

This year was my first time watching America's Got Talent; I don't know if I'll watch again next season, but for now I enjoyed seeing the variety of performances. Magic and dancing can be fun to watch. Although Brandon and Savannah didn't go as far as I expected, I picked up their single on iTunes and a couple more songs on their website. But you know who I was rooting for in the finale? Forte, of course.

Back when I was first discovering what kind of music I like, I listened to a lot of classical and classical crossover music on iTunes and YouTube. That's how I discovered Hayley Westenra and Emma Shapplin. But you find a lot of people who either can't sing as well or don't have a particularly expressive delivery. What I love about Forte is that they have both, all the way. 

I melt listening to them sing. They hit all the notes, but it isn't just about hitting notes. Each time I hear them sing a song, it's as if I'm hearing it for the first time. And that's how it should be. Their first single came out on Monday, with a full album coming next month. I've heard "Caruso" before, but never with such clear enunciation and such a turning of angles that blend together your mind and heart. It's interesting: I'm most used to Josh Groban's version of the song and while he seems to grow in intensity as the song goes on, Forte begins it on a powerful plane. Just the first couple of lines are enough music to live off of for a while.

Now I am beginning to look up the individual members of the group: Sean Panikkar, Josh Page, and Fernando Varela. There are two videos on Josh's YouTube page that I have trouble keeping away from: his duet of "The Prayer" with Jackie Evancho and his cover of "To Where You Are." In fact, the last song has had tremendous influence on me, from a creative standpoint. Sometimes it helps to have a message pass from artist to artist, something to remind you of the value of what you are doing.

These are three people that I want to watch succeed, three people whose art I want to continue to support. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Seattle Chocolates: Dead Sea Salt Milk Chocolate Truffle Bar

Every holiday, I try and find chocolates that are themed beyond simply a themed wrapper. Even that much can be hard to find (I went to three stores this year before I saw the KitKats with bats on the wrappers). With all the holiday merch out there, you would think chocolate companies (or at least candy companies) would put a little more effort in. Christmas tends to be okay, but Halloween isn't great. It's a candy holiday, but themed chocolate candy is scarce. 

World Market, however, had two chocolate bars from Seattle Chocolates: Dead Sea Salt and Bloody Orange. Given that I don't like orange in chocolate, I stuck with the Sea Salt & Toffee bar. Theme-wise, it is simply a bar of chocolate, but the wrapper is fairly decorated with black coloring, a skeleton, and Halloween wording. It also says "Day of the Dead" on it, so it can double for Dia de los Muertos, too, right? You'll see that I arranged the bar with my glass skull (from Target last year) and a stone from the Dead Sea itself.

As the back label is sure to mention, the salt in here is, naturally, not from the dead sea, although it is sea salt. Let's pretend that we can't see the palm kernel oil in the ingredients--really a shame to find, especially in a chocolate that feels the need to write "All Natural" on the front. But it's probably the oil that they use to add the "truffle" part to the bar.

It's a pretty basic milk chocolate. Not quite gourmet, but perhaps slightly above candy-level. Maybe. While it has a more developed sense of richness, it tends toward the plastic texture. This texture is also its gooey texture, which is what I meant about the added oil being part of the "truffle" side: there is nothing else truffle-like about the bar other than the plastic gooeyness.

The toffee comes in in little bits scattered throughout. It's fairly soft toffee, which means it isn't hard on your teeth. When the salt does come by, it's quite strength. At first I thought it could have more even, less harsh distribution. But then again, I do love salt and this salt might just be the best ingredient in this little confection. So I don't exactly mind if it overpowers the chocolate every now and then. 

I don't think the average taster will care about slightly plastic texture or sweetness. And for the average taster, salt in chocolate is still new enough to be its own novelty. As a chocolate bar, Seattle Chocolates presents a mediocre product. But as a Halloween chocolate, I quite like it. It's probably the best I'll find, living where I do. So while a three dollar chocolate bar certainly isn't trick-or-treating material, it makes for a nice little gift or party favor or themed snacking chocolate. Maybe next year they can imprint skeletons on the chocolate squares.