Chocolate and Valentine’s Day | Around About North County


I love February. I love the color red. I love celebrating my birthday and Valentine’s Day. I love collecting anything heart shaped and last but not least, eating chocolate! In fact, I’m dedicating today’s column to all of the mutual “chocoholics” in the world!  
I have a “sweet” little Hallmark book titled “For the Love of Chocolate” that presents some facts about the discovery of chocolate more than 2,000 years ago. It is thought that some early inhabitant of Mesoamerica roasted a few beans from the pod of a tree deep in the misty rainforest and as the rich aroma of the roasting beans filled the air, the love of chocolate was born.
The book states, “According to a legend of the Toltecs, an ancient civilization originating in northern Mexico, Quetzalcoatl, a king famed for his great wisdom, brought cacao seeds from the sacred lands of the first sons of the Sun. The seeds were planted, and the first cacao tree, a gift from the gods, grew in the world of mortals.”
All I can say is thank you, thank you, to the king! From then, history tells us that the early Indians of Mesoamerica — particularly the Maya and Aztecs — were the world’s first chocolate lovers. They consumed their chocolate in a drink form, roasting the cocoa beans and grinding them into a paste that they mixed with water, making a thick, bitter drink. For variety, they flavored the drink with chili powder and ground black pepper!
This next fact will give those of you who like to walk and hike an excuse for devouring some chocolate. It is said that one chocolate chip provides enough “fuel,” or calories, for an adult to walk 150 feet. Thirty-five chips will take you a mile. For a hike around the world, you’ll need about 875,000 chips! I really wonder who came up with those figures and how they went about determining them.
Because I had another birthday this month, I love this quote. “There’s a theory that chocolate slows the aging process. It may not be true, but why take the chance?”
If you want to present your Valentine with a special “gift from the heart” on Feb. 14 make these Easy Chocolate Truffles.
 
Easy Chocolate Truffles

Ingredients:
½ pound semisweet
chocolate
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup unsalted butter
2 large egg yolks
Unsweetened cocoa
Finely ground walnuts
 
Directions:
Heat chocolate and cream in a double boiler. Stir until chocolate is melted. Add butter and stir until melted. Blend in egg yolks. Remove from heat and chill until mixture is firm. Take a teaspoonful of mixture and roll into a ball. Roll the ball in cocoa or finely ground walnuts, until completely coated. Place truffles in paper bonbon cups. Chill or freeze. Makes 2 ½ dozen Truffles for your Valentine and your friends.  

Just a reminder — Put “Eat chocolate” at the top of your list of things to do today. That way, at least you’ll get one thing done!
On Feb. 13, from 3 to 5 p.m., at Pear Valley Vineyards and Winery, 4900 Union Rd., Paso Robles, you can learn more about Assistance League of San Luis Obispo County and the philanthropic program Operation School Bell.
Enjoy meeting active members, while tasting Pear Valley award-winning wine and delicious appetizers.
If you are interested in attending the Membership Drive Reception, please RSVP by calling Karin Morris at 805-471-7482.
Assistance League of San Luis Obispo County has received a $1,000 grant award from Union Bank. The grant will assist in supporting Operation School Bell to purchase new school-appropriate clothing for disadvantaged students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade, living and attending school throughout San Luis Obispo County.
The goal of Operation School Bell is to provide new school clothing to 2,000 disadvantaged students during this school year. The Assistance League chapter is on track to exceed that number, which means that they will clothe one in seven of the County’s students who are living in poverty.
Assistance League is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization with no paid staff dedicated to fostering academic success by boosting self-esteem and improving the lives of students in our County. To date, Assistance League has provided new school clothing to more than 26,000 students throughout its 23-year history.
For more information visit alslocounty.org.
This Sunday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m., at Park Cinemas, treat your Valentine to the Park Cinemas and Main Street Association Downtown Paso Robles “Valentine’s Day Movie Night. The feature will be the original 1964 movie “Father Goose,” starring Cary Grant, Leslie Caron and Trevor Howard.
Tickets are $12 and include chocolate and champagne or popcorn and a soda. For tickets, call 805-238-4103. Limited seating.
Tonight from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. you can attend the Sweetheart Stroll in downtown Atascadero. Enjoy a carriage ride around downtown starting from the Carlton Hotel. Be one of the first 50 participants to receive a beautiful rose from Arlyne’s Flowers and Gifts located on Palma, across from the Historic City Hall, where you can also take a tour of the building.
Tickets are $20 and are available at 5:30 p.m. at Grape Encounters or at City Hall. The ticket includes a Sweetheart Stroll wine glass and an opportunity to taste local wine at participating businesses. Art created by local artists will be displayed at some of the businesses in the downtown area.
Congratulations to the nonprofit, Central Coast Funds for Children, celebrating 25 years of helping the children of San Luis Obispo County reach their potential and lead a more fulfilling life. Because of their 31 active members, and through the generosity of donors, they have been able to grant a total of $1,746,665 during the 25 years. Grants are made to nonprofit organizations whose focus is helping children.
For more information about CCFC visit centralcoast fundsfor children.org.
More rain is coming…Enjoy the weekend.
Cheers!

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