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Beijing's chocolate chip cuckoos
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By Celine Chen

There is a Chinese saying "It’s happier to share your music with others than enjoy the music by yourself." Elyse Ribbons, an American girl in Beijing, has applied this chunk of Chinese wisdom to chocolate.

Ribbons, a playwright, director, actress and model, started the Chocojing chocolate appreciation club in 2007 after a friend sent her a fabulous box of Swiss chocolates. "I thought, instead of being a pig and gorging on it myself, I'd invite some friends over and share it, so we all brought some wine to go with it. It was just a fun way to eat far too much chocolate," she recalls dreamily. 

As she is always overworked and overtired, Ribbons was looking for a way to help her relax. "I don't do drugs or alcohol, but chocolate is the next best thing. Chocolate gives me so much pleasure and I like to share my pleasure with others."

Chocojing organizes monthly chocolate tastings to explore different types of chocolates, but mainly as an excuse to gorge themselves silly.

On November 18, they held their monthly meeting at the Renaissance Beijing Capital Hotel. As usual all Beijing's hard-core chocomaniacs were there. With gorgeous confections spread on the tables and a chocolate fountain gushing away, the stage was set for a memorable night's guzzling.

Ribbons gave a short speech and Chef Anthony demonstrated how to make two kinds of home-made chocolates. Then everyone got together to talk serious chocolate. Throughout, waiters and waitresses served chocolates, chocolate cookies and chocolate-flavored drinks.

Nessi Polito, restaurant manager at the Renaissance, said he heard of Elyse Ribbons through her plays. As the hotel has just opened, he hopes people will come back again and again for the hotel's exquisite chocolates. "Our chocolates are different; they are in delightful shapes and bright colors. They're more like art works than snacks."

Ren Na and Wan Hong heard about Chocojing online. They have both lived overseas and hoped the evening would help them recall the flavor of western life.

Chocojing's past gatherings have included Chocojing Does Donuts, with Guilt Donuts at The Hutong near Beixinqiao, Chocojing does Milk Chocolate at Luna lounge, Chocojing does Cote d'Or featuring dark chocolates at Cafe Europa, and Chocojing does Fouchon, a luxury French brand, at Shin Kong Place.

(China.org.cn November 28, 2008)

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