To help orient our friends Jeff and Margaret to Bisbee, we started the day with a walking tour, planning to head up Tombstone Canyon to High Desert Market, then up, up, up along High Street to take in the view across town to the RV park and the big pit mine beyond.
Just past Castle Rock, though, we spied an enticing shop I had tried to enter recently with no success – not because it had been closed, but because it was packed with (potential) shoppers. Not so this morning, so we all crowded in to check it out.
Chocolate (wish I could figure out how to add the little accent mark over the “a”, but I can’t) sells just that: all manner of homemade chocolate – individual candies, truffles, hot chocolate, bars. The retail section of the store is tiny; most of the small building is dedicated to the production process. Not only do Gordon and Kim make chocolate, they roast and grind their own cacao beans!
Making a living in retail in Bisbee must be a challenge. With a population not much over 6,000 and no obvious major industry, you don’t get the feeling that residents spend a lot of money on life’s luxuries. It appears to me that many of the retail businesses in downtown Bisbee rely on the cash tourists bring to town, and capturing those dollars demands not just excellent marketing skills but a true passion for pursuing your dreams in Bisbee.
Gordon seems to have that passion. While we ogled the fabulously beautiful chocolates displayed in the lighted cases, we learned all about chocolate, from cacao beans (did you know that beans from different regions taste different from each other?) to finished product. We tasted freshly roasted beans, unsweetened – a texture similar to a roasted pecan, with a lovely deep chocolate flavor. Gordon brought us each a tiny cup of “the world’s best hot chocolate” to sample, and offered tidbits of chocolate from various exotic locations.
As we sniffed, tasted, and talked, I remembered a bottle of Zinfandel port we had stashed away to be consumed during the holidays. We had plans for dinner out with Jeff, Margaret, Sydney and Frank… how about a post-dinner port-and-chocolate tasting? We came away with three chocolate bars, Fair Trade 65% West African Dark Chocolate, Fair Trade & Organic 70% Dominican Republic Chocolate, and 68% Madagascar Rare Red Chocolate (With Natural Plum Notes).
After our walking tour was complete, we hopped in Jules and took off for a driving tour through the various “neighborhoods” of Bisbee: Warren, Lowell, San Jose… past the ball park and the little airport, down to Naco and the golf course, up to the Safeway. We all grabbed a Chicago-style hot dog at Jimmy’s Hot Dog Company – where Jeff reminisced with Jimmy about Chicago comfort foods – then headed back home.
Bisbee has quite a number of restaurants – but many of them are open only for breakfast and lunch. Neither of our favorites (Cafe Roka or Rosa’s Little Italy) are open on Monday, so our choices were limited. Since none of us had yet been there, we decided to try the just-opened Angela’s Italian Restaurant in the historic Copper Queen Hotel.
We were seated promptly at 6 pm in the warm, welcoming dining room – and proceeded to have a typical Bisbee Monday night dinner out: pleasant ambiance, mediocre food, friendly but unprofessional service. Nothing was BAD, nothing was particularly good (except the salad dressing on the Caesar salad).
One bright spot: we brought our own wine, expecting a corkage fee of around $5 – but the corkage fee was waived. We mentioned it to our young waiter, who shrugged, smiled, and said it was no charge… particularly welcome since a 20% gratuity had already been added to our checks! While the food was forgettable, what we bought was the experience: a warm, nicely decorated spot to sit at a big table with friends, plenty of wine, interesting conversation, and no one had to do the dishes. :)