Specialty blogs you may want to read

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Bike Snob NYCCilogear makes packs:
Trek engineers were finally liberated from the crippling constraints of seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, whose irrational demands for a durable, comfortable, and practical road racing bike long prevented them from implementing the types of design improvements we real cyclists all long for--most important among them being larger head tube bearings, the elimination of pesky bottom brackets, and proprietary everything. The Madone is their ultimate achievement in fulfilling the new Trek mandate--to create a bicycle that cannot and will not accept any components manufactured by a company other than Trek.

Thanks to the wealth of diagrams and photographs that have accompanied the introduction of the new Madone, it was completely unnecessary for me to ride it, because it's abundantly clear the carbon fiber construction and layup yielded a frame that was laterally stiff yet vertically compliant. More important though is the fact that Madone riders will no longer have to go to the bike shop when they have a problem with a noisy, rough, or sloppy bottom bracket. Rather, they will only have to go to the bike shop when they have a problem with their noisy, rough, or sloppy proprietary bottom bracket shell. And if you've ever owned a bike that takes a more-or-less standard seatpost size, you can relate to the frustrating and time-intensive process of choosing from among the vast array of posts available to you on the market. With the Madone, Trek have taken the choice away from you, so instead of agonizing over seatposts you can spend more time riding. But enough of all this technical jargon. The fact is that this bike climbs like a fever on a dumbwaiter, descends like a German U-boat, cuts corners like a UAW welder, and accelerates like a Fiat strapped to an ICBM. Overall, just knowing that you're riding a bike that puts a pair of pedals, a seat, and some handlebars under you in a completely revolutionary way is enough to make you drive that much faster when you've got this baby strapped to the rear rack of your Honda Pilot.

Cacaolab, home of the world's most secure chocolate:

The store carries a range of truffles and other chocolate candies, but he also sells bars of chocolate, some of them single origin. In the middle of these bars, in a silver package that sets it apart from the dark packaging of the other more "ordinary" Marcolini bars is the Limited Edition, made from his own private stash of Mexican Porcelana Criollo. And, it's a $15 for 2.5 oz of chocolate. Yikes.

Being a complete chocolate fanatic, and admitted sucker for status items, this (and an assortment of the other single origin specialities) was a clear must-have. (In the most effective sales pitch ever, the clerk explained that they only had 9 bars left, and would not be getting any more for a year.) Got to give Marcolini points for designing a great retail experience!

Outside of the theatrics, this is one monumental chocolate. The Porcelana bean is known for being a very light, fruity bean. Latin American beans, in general, have a chocolate taste that builds more slowly and is less powerful than the more monochromatic, more directly "chocolatey" African beans. In Marcolini's Limited Edition, he's roasted and conched these sophisticated little seeds into a baroque wonder. One of my favorite things about tasting really quality chocolate is how the taste can play out and elaborate over time. Different cocoa butter fractions will melt at different points, and cocoa solids will release different flavors as the chocolate melts on the tongue. In a good Venezuelan or Madagascar chocolate, this shows up as a pleasant fruit or floral note that typically plays out after the initial chocolate and nutty flavors. This chocolate is sophisticated enough that it carries at least three distinct fruit notes that play out sequentially on the tongue. It's full of pineapple, apple, and banana notes that blend seamlessly into the bready and nutty lower flavors. There is very little bitterness or astringency to distract from this little taste melody. The Limited is clean and light enough that the middle flavors actually are quite similar to the softness of a milk chocolate. The typical punchiness of a lower end dark chocolate is almost entirely absent. The Marcolini has a complexity evident in very few dark chocolates, with a gentle character that makes milk chocolate seem redundant. Extraordinary.


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