January 30, 2012

Tale of Two Hot Cocoas

This week I had two amazing hot chocolates, which is naturally of such importance that I must tell the whole internet.

On Tuesday night after fencing training, the club went to Scholars - a club in the student centre - for pints. But I'm still not very good at this whole going-to-bars thing, and the thing that caught my eye on the menu was hot cocoa. It was cold and rainy (so, the usual state of things) and I was a bit homesick, and hot cocoa sounded ideal. But I didn't realize what a good idea it was until the bartender handed me the  cup and saucer. The cup was overflowing with foam and whipped cream, sprinkled with cocoa powder, and two little pink marshmallows sat on the saucer, because the cup was so full there wasn't room for them. I think I practically skipped back to the table, I was so delighted at the pink marshmallows. The conversation among the fencers switched back and forth between English, Irish and French, so while I didn't understand a lot of what was going on, it was a joy to listen to.

Then this past weekend I was up in Dublin, exploring the city at the start of the day while the boys fenced pools at the fencing tournament at Trinity. I wandered through some museums and a park, then made my way up to Grafton Street.

Grafton Street is one of the major shopping streets in Dublin, and coming out of the gate of St. Stephen's Green onto the street was like walking into Disneyland. There were buskers every few blocks, playing competing songs; flower vendors seemed to be at every crossroad, and between that and the incredibly fashionable window displays the place was all bright colors. I went into a few fashion boutiques and book shops, before coming across a chalkboard sign advertising mint hot chocolate.

The sign was for a little gelato shop - I forget the name, but they weren't drawing much a crowd with their admittedly amazing-looking displays of ice cream, because, well, it was bloody cold. The entire front of the shop was open, so passers-by could see all the different flavors, and the women working were bundled up in scarves and sweaters. They were actually out of mint, but I settled for a regular hot chocolate and continued strolling.

The Scholars hot cocoa won for presentation, but the Grafton Street hot cocoa was perhaps the most delicious thing I've ever tasted. Walking down the street, listening to the music and chatter and admiring the shop displays and drinking this amazing creamy hot cocoa was possibly the best way one could spend a Saturday morning in Dublin. Next time I go back, I'm definitely stopping by that shop again, and hopefully by then it will be warm enough to try some of the gelato too!

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