Friday, May 14, 2010

Åcon 4 Underway, with Chocolate

Åcon, our little convention in Mariehamn, Åland, is arranged for the fourth time this year. The first day of the convention started traditionally very early with a ferry trip to Mariehamn (from Turku and Stockholm, in Finland and Sweden, respectively), with all the eating, shopping, and chatting in the bar that are customary in these situations.

Lots of people gathered around bar tables, chatting

The Thursday program was light, with introductions, people getting to know each other, a “do not disturb” sign workshop (inspired by previous experience of the very efficient hotel cleaning staff at work at early hours) and a very nice presentation by our Guest of Honor, Geoff Ryman, about some very impressive old sf movies (with lots of samples). There was also a movie showing (Frau im Mond by Fritz Lang from 1929, although not in its entirety, to the disappointment of many). And of course a lot of drinking beer and chatting with other fen in the bar and the lounge.

People going aroud the program room saying hi to people they haven’t met before Saying hi to strangers

This morning before the official program started some of us took and excursion to a local chocolaterie, Chocolaterie Amorina.

Entering the shop

We got a presentation about how chocolate is made, what kinds of differences there are in different kinds of beans, ways of making it, etc.

The hosts talking about chocolate The hosts of the chocolaterie introducing us to the world of chocolate

A plate with six pieces of chocolate and six different pralines, along with a cup of hot chocolate The taste of paradise

The world of chocolate is quite complicated, and the characterizations for different kinds of chocolate—not to mention the pralines—seems to have a lot of common with wine tasting, both in the multitude of different tastes found in chocolate, and also in that you clearly need some practice to appreciate the really fine chocolates properly. If you visit Mariehamn, be sure to visit the Amorina!

Chocolaterie Amorina The chocolatier Mercedes Urbano-Winqvist makes all her pralines by hand

Sitting at the table decorated with cacao beans, sampling the selection

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