Post-exam bliss. And chocolate.

As I mentioned a post or two ago, this Friday I had to take an exam.  A very-big-deal exam, the outcome of which determined my ability to move on in the program.  And I passed it.  This means I am now free to move toward my dissertation, and that I am a doctoral candidate (well, almost, first I have to create and get approved a dissertation prospectus)!

Excitingly, in a project that does have food as a focus (although more the ways of eating it than the preparation and aestheticism thereof), I received some unexpected but delightful well-wishes in the form of food, when I went out to brunch with some friends/colleagues last Sunday morning.  As we crowded around our table at Midtown Marketplace, some with omelets, some with pancakes, me with a glorious hazelnut waffle topped with mixed berry compote, they began emptying pockets, purses, jackets, and loaded this impressive loot onto the table before me:

This was far more than I expected, and far more than I needed, but it was so brimming with love and support that I was quite overwhelmed.  The breakdown: Dove chocolates (bottom right), always a delicious and reliable standard.  I took the bag to my office to share with my office-mates, since they have had to listen to and encourage me throughout the process of preparing for this exam.

The Belgian chocolates (back right) were a selection of five fruit flavors blended with different types of chocolate (milk, dark, and white) and had some delightful combinations.  I shared these around the office as well.

The candied ginger spiked chocolate bar, which N. dubbed “crack,” was outrageous.  Spicy little chunks of candied ginger in smooth luscious dark chocolate; we finished the bar in two days… now all I want is to make my own candied ginger and wrap it lovingly in a truffle to recreate the experience.

The tea (middle left) is chamomile citrus, and is incredibly beautiful.  The ingredients are left whole, and enclosed in transparent little cloth packages sewn together with soft twine.  You can actually see the chamomile flowers, little strips of dehydrated orange zest, and the other leaves and blossoms used to create the tea.  With a drizzle of honey, it is the perfect not-too-indulgent bedtime beverage.  With the addition of a few shortbread cookies (back left), it becomes rather more indulgent.  These cookies were so rich and buttery that I thought they would leave my fingertips buttery, like the aftermath of a big handful of popcorn.  Just softened in the tea, they were lent an appealing subtle citrus flavor.

For true indulgence, the Ghiradelli cocoa mix is your best bet from this table of luxuries.  It is chocolate and hazelnut, so in essence it is like drinking a hot cup full of Nutella.  Incredibly rich and delicious.  I have only mixed it with water thus far, but the package recommends mixing with heated milk, which would only add to the indulgence!

Finally, the tall bottle in the middle is a Spanish sparkling white wine by Albero, which the bottle claims is made with organically grown grapes.  I have not yet popped the cork of this delightful looking treat, but when I do I expect to feel the same sort of rush of relief and unbelieving but effervescent bliss that I did yesterday afternoon, when my adviser and the chair of my examination committee shook my hand and told me “Congratulations!”

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