If you've ever found yourself in a new city and wished you knew where to go to find a chocolate payload then consider yourself lucky. Just in time for chocolate month, the folks at TasteTV have released The Chocolate Guide, a book on local chocolatiers, chocolate makers, chocolate shops, and more. This edition covers the West Coast — it says it covers California, Utah, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia; however, I found it to be really California-centric — and gives you descriptions and photos of each place. It's a pretty comprehensive guide — to California anyway — and would make for a fun chocolate road-trip tour guide. However, as much as I love drooling over chocolate, I found it to be somewhat frustrating. To see my thoughts on the book, read more.
Let me start by saying, on a whole, this book is a fun idea. I'm assuming this is a first in a series, and I think over time this could be a really neat set of books. From a chocolate lover's point of view, it's mission accomplished: I don't know a chocolate lover who wouldn't like this book. From a book lover's point of view, it really falls flat.
First of all, the book is separated by region (Southern California, Northern California, everything else), but within each region there is no rhyme or reason to the ordering. It's not alphabetical and it's not by location — to be fair, there might be a hint of location ordering, but it was far too complex for me to figure out. The same can be said about the full directory at the end. Also, I find it really hard to believe that Utah, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia can be lumped into 28 pages when California receives 130.
Secondly, the photos are inconsistent, for every stop-in-your-tracks droolicious photograph there is one that is an obvious television screencap. While it's nice to have images for the different chocolatiers, it was more than distracting to have dithery, dark, pixelated images. I didn't understand why they didn't visit each place with a photographer instead.
My last complaint would have to be that it's difficult to tell which ones are chocolatiers and which ones are shops. They provide the address to most of them, but do not say which are actually open to the public. Oh and in the Southern California/Mexico section, they weirdly show photos of the Nestle Chocolate Museum and do not give an address, or any information about it, a total shame as it could have been the highlight of the book.
Overall it's a fun concept, I can't deny that. It's also a nice overview to what is being created on the West Coast. Yet, I hope the publishers learn from their mistakes before putting out other editions. I mean, like I said earlier, who wouldn't want a true chocolate road-trip tour book?