When I was a little girl, my paternal grandmother had a sewing basket that she kept in the enclosed back porch of her Chicago home. Inexplicably, at the bottom of the basket — alongside the needles, thread, and darning egg — were more than a dozen shiny marbles, each different from the other. I couldn’t wait to hold each one up to the light and admire its size, shape, color, and unique design. Each year, when cranberry beans come into season, I am reminded of the surprise I experienced when I first found the precious and beautiful little objects in such an unpredictable place.
On a recent jaunt via ferry to the Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook, I scanned New York Harbor for signs of a floating bottle. “If I ever find a genie in a bottle,” I fantasized, “My first wish will be that my grandparents return to life to spend a day with me in New York City.” The thought slipped away as I took in street after street, and shop after shop, in Red Hook. Then, about an hour later, I came upon Cacao Prieto, a stunningly beautiful distillery and single-origin organic chocolate factory founded by the grandson of the little girl depicted on the postcard accompanying the chocolate bars. It seemed as if my grandparents had heard my thoughts on the ferry ride to Red Hook. My Nana, a chocolate lover, and my Gramps, a bourbon lover, were there with me that day in New York City.