Incredibly good chocolate delivered by Cluetrain

I've no idea how much Rick Levine made from his share of the Cluetrain Manifesto profits, so it might be a bit of a stretch to call his new venture "The Chocolatier the Cluetrain Built"... but - however he went about funding this thing, I'm delighted to report that he's onto a winner.

OK - back up. Let me catch you up a little here.

So. The Cluetrain Manifesto - a great website that became a terrific email list, that ultimately evolved into an important book, a ton of media coverage, and a veritable explosion of game-changing ideas - had four authors. Doc Searls, David Weinberger and Chris Locke went on to do a lot of other high profile things after the success of the original book.

The fourth author (aka the Fifth Beatle, as Jeneane calls him), Rick Levine, opted for a less high profile route. In truth, I think a lot of people figured he'd fallen completely off the map for much of the last 10 years.

Well as Jeneane explains in her post, Rick's been busy. I know he was working on some pretty cool startups for some of those intervening years (hey Rick - do you still own wordofmouth.com? What happened to that one?), but it turns out that he was secretly hatching a plan to create the world's finest artisan chocolatier, in Boulder, Colorado of all places.

I know this to be true, as earlier today we received a stunning sample box of outstanding chocolates from Seth Ellis Chocolatier (thank you Rick!). As you'd expect, from a Cluetrain original, the Seth Ellis site is a blog.

Now, I'm a really big fan of chocolate - especially the rich, dark kind. I turned to the dark side at an early age, shortly after I discovered Cadbury's Bournville and Thornton's Apricot Parfait.

Nowadays, Green & Black's organic (especially the Maya Gold variety) is the treat that makes my toes curl (sign of a perfect partner, btw - La Belle Saucisse bought me a Green & Black's dark easter egg this year. Thank you, Sausage - I love you). And having a brother & sister-in-law in Brussels is, as you might imagine, a very, very good thing indeed for a full-time chocophile.

But this stuff...


I have no idea who Seth Ellis is or was, or why Rick's chocolatier is named after him - but I suspect he was a chocolate deity of the highest possible rank.

Each of the six hand-crafted delicacies in the Seth Ellis box is a perfectly-balanced work of chocolatey art. Fair trade organic Ecuadorean chocolate, carefully-selected organic ingredients, delicately blended and designed, then presented in a terrific little box like intricate pieces of jewelery. The scent alone, as you open the box, is enough to lift a chocoholic out of his shoes.

The minty one is a treat - billions of miles better than the typical gick that passes for chocolate in North American. Forget After Eights and any other mint/chocolate mashup you've tried in the past - this is to choc-o-mints as a Lotus Elan is to a Honda Civic.

Next, the raspberry truffle. Unreal. Delicately tart and aromatic - not cloyingly sweet like the typical raspberry choccie concoction in an assortment box. Fresh raspberry flavour sliced with sharp, tangy chocolate - bitter enough to have the tip of your tongue sizzling, rich enough to make the back of your palate feel like velvet.

Then there's the candied lemon one - sheer knocks my socks off. Intense, deep, heavenly. Candied Angel pee.

The ginger one - praise the chocolate gods! The ginger one!! Is there anything more perfect than the combination of rich dark chocolate and crystallized ginger? And is there any chocolate/ginger marriage more perfect than this? Two different kinds of ginger for a killer one-two punch of sweet and spicy.

And then... Oh. Oh my. The nutmeg. Nutmeg! Who woulda thunk it?! Nutmeg on a cappucino, sure - but I'd never have thought of building an entire ganache around nutmeg. Bugger me, that's a good chocolate.

There's a coffee truffle in there too - but by the time I hit this point I was comatose from the sheer hedonistic overload. I have become one with the couch; sunk down in a haze of chocolate bliss. I've achieved choco-nirvana.

If you're in the US, you may be able to find Seth Ellis chocs in your nearest Whole Foods Market. If that doesn't work, go here to order some online. Please. You will not be disappointed.

Thank you, Rick. You and your pals at Seth Ellis are chocogeniuses of the first order. My only request: make one with chili!