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Friday, April 8, 2011

Chocolate Industry Abuses, Relieved Critics, and Old Whisky

Posted By on Fri, Apr 8, 2011 at 7:53 AM

Ernest Shackleton, whisky archivist.
  • Ernest Shackleton, whisky archivist.
Today's notes on national stories, local trends, random tastes, and other bycatch dredged up from the food media.

1. Bad chocolate. The CNN Freedom Project, a year-long initiative looking into slavery and human trafficking around the world, recently interviewed U. Roberto Romano, one of the filmmakers of The Dark Side of Chocolate, a new documentary about child labor and chocolate production in Africa. Romano's film appears to give lie to the 2001 Cocoa Protocol that companies like Barry Callabaut and Nestle signed pledging to rid the industry of child slave labor. The movie doesn't appear to have U.S. screenings any time soon, but Americans an order a copy of the DVD from the International Labor Rights Forum for a suggested donation of $6.

click to enlarge Ernest Shackleton, whisky archivist.
  • Ernest Shackleton, whisky archivist.
Ernest Shackleton, whisky archivist.

2. Phew. Boy, am I relieved to read that the Blue Plate was untouched by Wednesday night's fire. Having eaten there the day before ― not a review, just a friendly visit ― I was happy to find the 12-year-old restaurant working at the same level as when it first impressed me a decade ago. If you're plotting a sigh-of-relief visit of your own, Cory Obenour's lilting, satiny fennel and onion soup is the perfect mirror of this week's delicate spring weather.


3. Whisky stunt. Working in a similar vein to Dogfish Head's recreations of ancient beers, a Glasgow-based distillery named Whyte & Mackay says it has replicated the whisky that Ernest Shackleton abandoned under the Antarctic ice a century ago. Three cases of whisky were discovered a while back, but it took years to arrange for it to be excavated, transported, and thawed enough for Whyte & Mackay's master whisky blender to taste. Only two people ― the blender and a whisky writer ― have tasted the two bottles side by side, but they both swear it's an exact copy. Which makes me wonder: Who got to drink the rest?

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