Tag Archives: best

Review: How to Win Friends and Influence People

Want to be a better person? This is like the how-to guide.

How to Win Friends and Influence People - novel by Dale Carnegie - cover image

Dale Carnegie just blew me away. I finished the book this morning and I am about to pass it on to my dad. It’s like common sense, but better. I want to personally thank him for making such a helpful book! I can imagine the principles he dictates working wonders in every area of my life.


Recent Musical Obsessions: Soul, Bruno Mars, & Dynamite

“Just the Way You Are”, Bruno Mars
Mars has the sweetest, smoothest voice I’ve heard in a long time, and this is an adorable love song. I miss when male singers could actually hit the high notes like this. It makes them even more endearing and vulnerable. Enjoy!

“You Don’t Know Me”, Michael Grimm
I didn’t know the meaning of soul until I listened to Michael Grimm. He has complete control of his rough, yet emotionally charged voice to give me shivers, so you KNOW it’s good. Weirdly (and luckily!) enough, I found him through a random America’s Got Talent video clip, a show that I don’t even watch:

“Dynamite”, Taio Cruz
Hands down, the BEST getting ready/dancing song I’ve ever heard. Disclaimer: This beat will stay in your head … for days! And it’s starting to be played on the radio more often, which renders me ecstatic:

“Waving Flag”, K’naan featuring Nancy Ajram
This wasn’t the actual World Cup song – it was the Coca-Cola sponsored one. Clearly, K’naan + a united theme + flags from everywhere does not make this song. The message he’s trying to get across is positive, yes, but the real gem in this song is Nancy Ajram. The second she started singing, I fell in love with her sweetly uplifting voice:

The Best Chocolate You Might [Never] Taste

To put it simply, before I die I want to taste the BEST chocolate in the world. So I did my research.

Lindt Chocolate Creme Brulee - taken from chocolate-snob.blogspot.com

At the moment, my favorite chocolate is Lindt Petit Desserts Creme Brulee. It’s a sumptuous milk chocolate bar with sweet creme brulee and crunchy toffee chips inside… And my mouth is watering just THINKING about it!

But its apparently not the best in the world, so back to that. After an intensive search of the interwebz, I found one brand in particular that consistently makes the list of Best Chocolate, year after year. 2009 was the fourth year running that they’ve won the Annual World Chocolate Awards. I’m talking about Amedei.


Their Story:
Amadei was founded by Alessio and Cecilia Tessieri in Tuscany – close to Pisa, Italy. The taste tester from Food & Wine raved about his visit to their factory. It’s hard work making artisan chocolate! He outlined the steps: “You import cacao beans from plantations. You roast them and husk them and grind the cacao nibs into a fine paste. You add sugar and grind some more. Finally you swirl the mixture in open tanks called conches, which smooths the texture while helping to blow off acids and other nasty flavors. It’s complicated, demanding work, and few small companies even attempt it.”

The Amadei Factory - image taken from http://www.williamcurley.co.uk/

The siblings started off just making candy, but then moved onto chocolates. Since the Tessieris wanted to be the best, they went to France to visit the leading chocolatier at the time: Vahlrona. Vahlrona pissed them off, sent them home with nothing, and basically told them that Italy wasn’t sophisticated enough to appreciate their exquisite French chocolate. This was probably one of the stupidest mistakes Vahlrona could ever make. Alessio and Cecilia wanted revenge.

The Tessieri’s went back to Italy determined to succeed. And kick some French ass. And they did! They negotiated with farmers from Chuao, where the best Venezuelan cacao beans are made. The climate is perfect for growing cacao beans, the “soil is naturally irrigated”, and they’ve been growing stuff there for centuries. And now, after negotiations, all of it was being sent to Amedei instead of Vahlrona. And to secure this bond, they have strong personal relationships with the farmers (they offered to pay off their debts, donate baseball jerseys for a local teams, etc.)



Their Chocolate:
The Tessieri’s passion for chocolate excellence, as well as meticulous research and testing obviously shows. People who tried the exclusive chocolate gave rave reviews, the most significant from the official Food & Wine review:
“This time, I had trouble picking individual voices out of the choir. I mostly remember the overall sensation of getting all the deliciousness any sane person could want.” -Pete Wells

And there you have it. The best chocolate is Italian! And it’s super expensive. As Wells said after he tried his first Amedei chocolate: “I knew that I wanted more, but at $100 a pound it would be cheaper to fly to Italy and go to the factory myself, which is what I did. This might make me the first traveler in history who went to Tuscany to save money on a candy bar.” Whatever. It’s worth the check off my bucket list, right? What do you think?