Kentucky Derby day does two things to me–makes me think of my long-gone, obese grandmother who would make one of her ornery grandchildren drive her to the Oblates’ Derby party where the old people and priests would get smashed. She was too frail and hobbled to go to church, she somehow spun it, but she could make it up several stairs to bingo in church halls and parties anywhere.  You gotta believe.

The other thing the Derby brings to mind is a mint julep though I must admit, the only mint julep I’ve ever had was a wonderful bit of artisan chocolate from  Gearharts Fine Chocolates on Libbie near Libbie and Grove.  I was slogging through writing the shopping chapter of the Insiders’ Guide to Richmond last month and was nearly comatose after slinging words around about jewelry and shoes and other things I care nothing about when I realized that the gift section could be salvaged by the insertion of two chocolate shops–Gearharts and For the Love of Chocolate in Carytown. I perked right up. I pretty much had the inventory of the latter shop memorized from my many visits over the years–have the smell memorized, too–but had never been to Gearharts. A field trip was in order–such a dedicated journalist–and bought a selection of their intriguing chocolates.  A definite yum among many. The mint julep started off minty and chocolatey as expected, but that bourbon snuck on in and stole the show. My tongue was drunk, but I managed to behave. A sloppy chocolate-eater is as unappealing as a sloppy drunk.

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