Good for you

Chocoholics find their calling in Portland
By JEFF INGLIS  |  March 22, 2006

Medical researchers — likely motivated by more than just academic curiosity — continue to explore the healing power of chocolate. Researchers from the Netherlands reported just last month that older men who ate chocolate regularly were less likely to die over the course of 15 years than peers who didn’t.

But why wait until you’re older? Sunday’s Chocolate Lovers’ Fling gives you the opportunity to start now, in style, and boasts a better side effect than most foods: it helps a good cause.

The event is the main fundraiser for Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine, which staffs a round-the-clock hotline handling 2500 calls a year, school-visiting prevention and education programs, and support groups for victims of sexual assault. Most of the work, including visits to hospital emergency rooms to counsel recent victims, is done by volunteers.

The need is great: In 2004, there were an average of 260 forcible rapes each day nationwide, according to FBI statistics. In Maine, there were 313 rapes or attempted rapes reported to police in 2004, or one every 28 hours and 4 minutes. Barely half of them — 51 percent — were solved by police, according to state records. And those crimes are only those reported.

But the topic is touchy. “I understand why people don’t want to talk about it,” says Cyndi Amato, the group’s executive director, who admits the chocolate-tasting event is an idea that draws people and donations in, without making them address the complex social issues at the same time. Amato is even taking steps to involve more kids and families, letting kids under 10 in for free for the first time, and creating a “kids corner” where they can decorate cookies that will be judged and win prizes, just like the real chefs in the rest of the event, hailing from restaurants, chocolate shops, caterers, bakeries, and other shops around southern Maine.

“I love chocolate and it’s a really, really good cause,” says Mary Paine, owner, chef, and manager at Pepperclub, 78 Middle Street, Portland. She is making a vegan and wheat- (gluten-) free chocolate cake made with tofu, soy milk, and brown rice syrup, as well as something that might be called “anti-vegan,” a Ghirardelli-chocolate cheesecake including eggs, cream cheese, and butter.

“I eat chocolate every single day,” Paine says, but she has had to do without this year — she gave chocolate up for Lent, and swears that in all her preparatory mixing and baking, she has not tasted a drop.

Paine is less competitive, and by her own admission less artistic, than many of the folks who enter complex structures of chocolaty goodness into the event’s competition, of which I will be one of several judges.

Christian Gordon, for example, will represent the restaurant where he is general manager and corporate executive chef, Federal Jack’s Restaurant and Brewpub in Kennebunk (owned by Sea Dog Brewing) with a cinnamon white-chocolate ginger-beer float using Sea Dog’s Eli’s Ginger Beer and hand-made ice cream.

1  |  2  |   next >
  Topics: Restaurant Reviews , Culture and Lifestyle, Food and Cooking, Foods,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY JEFF INGLIS
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   PORTLAND VS. HER PEOPLE  |  March 19, 2014
    This city, which all agree is lucky to have so many options, has leaders who do not behave as if they have any choice at all. To the frustration of the citzenry, the City Council and the Planning Board often run off with the first partner who asks for a dance.
  •   LEARNING FROM FAIRPOINT'S DISASTERS  |  March 06, 2014
    Two bills before the Maine legislature seek to pry lessons from the hard time FairPoint has had taking over the former Verizon landline operations in Maine since 2009.
  •   BEYOND POLITICS  |  March 06, 2014
    Today’s US media environment might well seem extremely gay-friendly.
  •   THE ONLINE CHEF  |  February 27, 2014
    It turns out that home-cooked scallops are crazy-easy, super-delicious, and far cheaper than if you get them when you’re dining out.
  •   RISE OF THE E-CURRENCIES  |  February 12, 2014
    Plus: Is Rhode Island ready for Bitcoin? Two perspectives

 See all articles by: JEFF INGLIS