A World in Bloom

Saturday, February 13th, 2021

It’s been a chilly February, not unreasonably cold, but colder than I’m used to in such a long stretch. Snow caps Mauna Kea, and the berries have been thriving in the cool and sunny days. ʻOhelo berries are abundant in Volcano area, and even the young strawberry plants my son received as a gift are doing well. Their influence is creeping its way into some of the valentines cards I’ve been writing.

With the first strawberry officially ready to pick, I knew I had to do something special to mark the occasion. With my son tugging at my leg in anticipation, we took his strawberry inside where I cracked open the package of the last Hilo Shark’s Chocolate bar left over from Christmas, and proceeded to dip his berry and other munchies in the silky, melted, 83% dark chocolate, magic.

I melted the chocolate in 30 second bursts at half power in the microwave, until it was just barely melted. Because I didn’t bother monitoring the temperature of the chocolate in our rush to enjoy our goodies, the hardened chocolate had lost its temper and glossy shine. Indeed, berry bush flowers weren’t the only thing in bloom that day, the fat on the surface of my untempered chocolate was blooming too. This seemed to have no effect on the flavor, though, as evidenced by the missing pretzel ring and two marshmallows that didn’t make it into the final picture. The rest of the tray was gone not long after. Simply irresistible. It’s a happy coincidence that the chocolate I used was 83%, because the lower sugar content really let the natural sweetness of the fresh strawberry shine.

But there’s nothing like a chocolate dipped strawberry to remind you that Valentine’s Day is almost upon us, and some local chocolate makers are marking the occasion with limited time specialty bars. While I won’t be exchanging chocolates with a sweetheart this year, I’m setting up to have a very cosy valentines day for one in the dining car of the Hawaiʻi Cacao Express.

From Island Sharks Chocolate I ordered the Dark & White Chocolate bar with Hibiscus Hearts. It arrived with the gift of extra white chocolate hearts and a bag of Cacao Tea. The tea is a gift in celebration of Black History Month.

A quick stop at Puna Chocolate Co. in Hilo allowed me to pick up the Strawberries ‘N’ Cream White Chocolate bar, and the Rose Cardamom Pistachio Dark Chocolate bar. It’s a flavor combination I can’t wait to try.

I paired it with a matching order of locally crafted soap from Filthy Farmgirl. Their Filthy Valentine bar is Cardamom Rose scented. They also gifted me a complimentary, mini, rose butter, soap bar.

Forgive my sappy sentiments, but I feel my appreciation for these companies renewed. How can one not notice all of the love poured into the craft and the affection for their customers these local small businesses have? That I am fortunate enough to be able to indulge in these delights tomorrow feel like a gift in itself. I finish this entry with the following lyrics softly lingering in my throat.

My heart is a flower. It blooms every hour…

-Flower, by Amos Leee

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