Shannon Kelley

A stupid-is-as-stupid-does man once said that life is like a box of chocolates, a clever sentiment with which I wholeheartedly agree. And whenever I dare to doubt it, that truth-you never know what you’re gonna get-rears its ugly head all over again, as reliably as death, taxes, and pimples on prom night. I bring this up because, during the past week, there’s been an assault on my inbox that’s taken the form of a steady stream of invitations to chocolate-themed soirees and, unsurprisingly, the one I chose to hit up wasn’t what I expected. (As an aside, I’d assume all the chocoholism can be chalked up to Valentine’s-mania, but I have to wonder: When will we realize that we should show chocolate how much we love it every day, not just when Hallmark says we should?)

Sweet tooth primed, I made my way to Saturday night’s annual fundraiser for the Contemporary Arts Forum, titled, simply, Chocolate. And with a name like that, I expected nothing less than your standard-issue fundraiser, albeit with a backdrop straight out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. So imagine my surprise when I wandered inside and saw passed appetizers-of the savory variety. Stuffedmushrooms, mini-quiches, quesadillas, chipotle-marinated shrimp. Curious, I thought, grabbing a plate and a mushroom. Hmmm.

My date and I wandered the space, hit up the bar to snag a glass of pink(!) syrah, checked out the collection of art on the walls, and, as the first round of the auction-the Ghirardelli Green-got going, found ourselves face-to-face with a flower petal-laden punch bowl, labeled “Love Potion” (aka, one sip of this and everyone will be cute). This, naturally, got our attention, and, parked there to partake of the sauce, we ran into CAF Communications/Development Associate Kami Shallenberger, who greeted us with giddy-eyed hugs. “It’s my last day!” she said, telling us of her plans to move to the Bay Area. “Stick around,” she said, “a bunch of my friends are coming later, and DJ Magneto’s gonna keep playing.”

And so, that a night billed as a fundraiser turned out to be more of a going-away party was perfectly appropriate. And, like biting into an orange crme when you’re expecting that mysterious concoction known only as nougat, it’s always a surprise to learn someone is moving on. But, then again, change is good, and surprises are, too. Thinking about it more, I rationalized that the night was more about nutritious hors d’oeuvres than decadent desserts was-well, oh, never mind. I turned back to my date, busily flagging down the wine-toting waitress, and looked up to realize that just beyond that potent Love Potion was a display of goodies from local gourmet chocolate purveyor Patchi. And they were all so pretty, it didn’t matter what I got. (But, for the record, it was a hazelnut dipped in white chocolate and coated in cocoa, and it was delicious.)


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