Family vacation can take on a lot of different meanings. Before I had kids, vacation was just about the best word in the English language. It didn’t really matter what kind of vacation was planned (or barely planned as a few of them turned out to be), there was bound to be some adventure. Or, as was the case of our fairly glorious Jamaican vacation, no real adventure, just lots of lounging on a beach under a palm umbrella, sipping rum punch and reading. That may have been the best vacation I’ve ever taken.
Of course, once I had children, vacation took on a new meaning entirely. These days, I find that I need a vacation to recover from my vacation. This is not just me getting older, but rather, me getting older and having young kids. The sheer volume of bags that fill my trunk whenever the word vacation is uttered astounds me. Back in the day, it was me, one suitcase and a purse. Now it is me, four suitcases, blankets, toys, snacks, backpacks, DVD player, DVD’s and an assortment of other packages I’m no doubt forgetting. Thankfully my kids are old enough that I no longer have to bring the big equipment, like pack n plays, high chairs and strollers. Still, my Honda Accord sunk down toward the road about a food once we loaded the trunk up for our recent trip to the beach.
Family vacation is a doubly daunting word in our household because there are really two types of vacations: the ones I plan for our little household and the giant beach vacation my mother-in-law plans for the entire extended family. One week each year, we load up the car, drive 12 hours and make our way toward South Carolina, where we pile into a six bedroom, eight bathroom house on the beach. This seems perfectly reasonable until we get there and all the other aunts, uncles and grandparents are also there, which means 15 of us are all bunking under the same roof. It gets crowded fast. Especially since my mother-in-law always invites her cousins, or siblings or nieces and nephews to come spend a day or two with us as well. This year there were actually 23 people in the house one day.
Amidst all the catching up, sandcastles and homemade ice cream (hey, I never said it was all bad, just crowded as can be), one of the really high points of the trip is that my husband and I load up our kids and head into Charleston for a day on our own, just walking around town and having fun.
This year we stopped into the Charleston City Market. We’ve been before, but not since they remodeled it, complete with a completely enclosed section that is blissfully air-conditioned. While the majority of the market is still open-aired. After walking around downtown on a stiflingly hot day, it was a wonderful surprise to get a blast of cool, comforting air, even if only for a little while.
It was inside this air-conditioned section that we found Dolores’ Southern Delights, a fun little candy store. While my husband contemplated buying a bacon flavored soda, I studied the chocolate offerings. I was so enthralled with the selection of tasty looking candy bars that I didn’t even notice the assortment of handmade truffles and molded chocolates in the front case.
Instead, I picked up a Chuao Salted Crunch bar. Now, I’ll be honest, the picture on the wrapper looked so good that I didn’t really pay attention to the description on the bar. I failed to notice that it wasn’t a salted caramel bar AND that it was dark chocolate. Epic fail on my part, I know. But the picture of what looked like a little cream puff drizzled in chocolate with the promise of sea salt added in was enough for me. I think, had it still been going by its original name, the panko bar, I would have thought twice. Not that I don’t love panko crumbs, I do, but it would have solidified that this was a bread crumb crunch, not a cream puff crunch. It also would have made me realize it was dark chocolate and I might have reached for another offering.
The dark chocolate was bitter, but not overwhelmingly so, which was nice. All too often dark chocolate prides itself so much on being dark that the bitterness overwhelms anything else. The bread crumbs in the bar reminded me a bit of the “crunch” in a Nestlé’s Crunch bar, but only from a textural standpoint. They didn’t taste like those bits of rice at all. They didn’t actually add much flavor, just a texture. There was a definite salty kick as each bite dissolved in my mouth and I really liked that.
I think the dark and the salt would have been really interesting with the tart of a fruit, especially with the bread crumbs. Would have been a bit more like a raspberry puff dipped in chocolate. As it was, it was good, but not spectacular. I would definitely eat it again if someone offered it to me and I am no intrigued to try several of his other offerings–I’m thinking both the potato chip and the rocky road bars look tempting.
Price: 4/10 (it was $7 for the bar)
Appearance: 7/10 (bar itself is neat to look at, packaging gets a 10/10 because I fell for it 100%)