List 110: The Dark Chocolate Haul of 2014

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Food / Travel/commuting

I can’t not take a photo before I eat this all up. The packaging is too gorgeous not to be photographed.

DC_2014

1. Vivani Organic (92%)
Vivani is readily available in Melbourne but I always have trouble getting the 92%. So if anyone in Europe wants to get me a present, you know what to buy me.

2. That-Greek-brand-that-has-fantastic-blue-packaging-but-I-can’t-figure-out-what-it’s-actually-called (70% and 60% with hazelnuts)
I always get a stash of these at the supermarket whenever I’m in Greece. They’re most likely made from Forastero like most commercial chocolate, but for something that’s mass-market, it’s pretty damn delicous.

3. Marou, Faiseurs de Chocolat single origin (70-80% range)
Now this is THE good stuff. Cacao and Vietnam aren’t often put together, but two French guys are actually making these decadent bars from beans locally grown in various regions of Saigon. Not only do they taste amazing, the packaging is amazing too, with gold stamping and lovely tactile paper.

4. Valor dark chocolate with mint (70%) – not featured in photo
This sadly did not make it to Australian shores. It died quietly in my stomach somewhere over the Arabian sea. I thought I should honour its memory by mentioning it in this list — after all, it gave me some relief from the pain of sitting with about 200 old, cranky Greeks on the 13-and-a-half hour flight from Doha to Melbourne.

R.I.P.
Valor dark chocolate with mint
19 September 2014
++ You were delicious ++

List 109: At the water’s edge — Barcelona and Paros

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Travel/commuting

Why? Despite swimming competitively for 10 years, I find the experience of being immersed in a body of water highly unpleasurable.

And this year, I thought I’d look down, rather than up.

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Pool at H10 Port Vell

Pool at H10 Port Vell

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Barceloneta beach at sunset

Barceloneta beach at sunset

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Ambelas fisherman's docks. And no, I was not contemplating suicide.

Ambelas fisherman’s docks. And no, I was not contemplating suicide.

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Pool at Hotel Elen

Pool at Hotel Elen

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Ambelas beach

Ambelas beach

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Faragas beach, while listening to the strangest music selection blasting from the speakers at the bar

Faragas beach, while listening to the strangest music selection blasting from the speakers at the bar

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Naoussa docks at dusk

Naoussa docks at dusk

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Santa Maria surf beach, where beautiful people go to see and be seen

Santa Maria surf beach, where beautiful people go to see and be seen

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The rocks on the coves of Monastiri

The rocks on the coves of Monastiri

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One of the tiny pebbled beaches in Ambelas. I'd like to think that only I know of these little hidden treasures.

One of the tiny pebbled beaches in Ambelas. I’d like to think that only Eoin and I know of these little hidden treasures.

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The rocky section of Ambelas beach

That rocky section of Ambelas beach

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Steps leading to the water from Christiana's restaurant

Steps leading to the water from Christiana’s restaurant

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Kolimbithres beach while watching half naked Europeans play volleyball

Kolimbithres beach while watching half naked Europeans play volleyball

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On the Blue Star ferry from Paros to Piraeus

On the Blue Star ferry from Paros to Piraeus

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Pool at the Athenaeum Intercontinental Athens

Pool at the Athenaeum Intercontinental Athens

List 107: Books in my own library with contents pages that interest me

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Design

One of two things I enjoy most about working on a book is designing the table of contents (the other is designing the running heads/folios). For me, the TOC is like a good concierge or a maître d: it directs you to where you want to go, helps you find what you’re looking for, and ultimately tells you whether the page is worth turning. Just as it is important to have front of house staff be well-mannered and properly groomed, the “front of house” of a good book should also be suitably primped and primed. After all, what else can be more pleasant and appealing than a well-designed, well-ordered list?

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1) 13th Istanbul Biennial Guide (designed by Ruben Pater, LAVA Design): A beautifully executed identity translates into one brilliant TOC.

01_Istanbul Biennale

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2) Volume: Writings on Graphic Design, Music, Art and Culture (designed by Jiwon Lee): You don’t immediately see the page numbers tucked away carefully in the gutter when you open a new copy of this book. It’s like biting into a chocolate egg and finding a yummy surprise in the middle.

02_Volume

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3) Leon: Fast Vegetarian (designed by Anita Mangan): This book just makes me smile. Note the beer icon for the “Rice & Curry” section.

03_Leon Vegetarian

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4) Sometimes I Think, Sometimes I Am (designed by Sara Fanelli and Bruno Monguzzi): A disordered TOC sans page numbers? GASP!

04_Sometimes I think

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5) Rainbow Tarts (designed by Emilie Guelpa): I thought nothing could excite me more than a spanking new Pantone swatch book. This book did.

05_Pop Tarts

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6) Scratching the Surface (designed by Elena Carl and Adrian Shaughnessy): Fluoro pink + triple digit page numbers + mono spaced type + lots of white space = a book designer’s wet dream

06_Scratching the Surface

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7) Eye Magazine, editions published in the early 2000’s (designed by Jayne Robinson and Kate Mansell): Winner of Reg’s The Most User-Friendly TOC Ever — there are three pages of contents: a text-only list with summaries of each of the articles, an editorial that incorporates page numbers, and visual contents.

07_Eye2

07_Eye

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8) Can We Drink the Ocean? (designed by Isabel Roxas): This reminds me of those really cute credits at the beginning or the end of a good animated film.

08_Can We Drink the Ocean

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9) From Here to There: A Curious Collection from the Hand Drawn Map Association (designed by Deb Wood and Bree Ann Apperley): Nice, but perhaps should have been properly handwritten rather than using a handwritten typeface.

09_From Here to There

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10) India Cookbook (designed by Frost Design): I can’t really talk about the TOC without putting it into the context of the entire book. The TOC, section dividers and photographs are strategically interspersed in between large sections of text laid out with Swiss-like precision. It’s a very clever mix of clinical design and that distinctive, visually-rich Indian aesthetic.

10_India

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11) Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe (designed by Tim Leong): My guilty nerdy pleasure.

11_Supergraphic

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12) The Time Book index (designed by some poor in-house designer at Candlewick Press who didn’t get a credit line in the book; I feel your pain, bro!): This falls under the “Back of House” category but imparts that tingle of rebellious excitement whenever I have to turn a book sideways or upside-down.

12_Time Book

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13) Mr Wilkison’s Favourite Vegetables (designed by Studio Racket): I think ITALIC SANS SERIF ALL CAPS are very sexy.

14_Mr Wilkisons Vegetables

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14) My Abuela’s Table (designed by Daniella Germain): A fully hand-drawn TOC is also very sexy.

15_My Abuela's Kitchen

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15) The Shelf Journal (designed by The Shelf Company): Only the French are able to bring sophistication to lame puns.

17_Shelf

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16) Vegetables from an Italian Garden (designed by Astrid Stavro): A clean, understated but highly effective navigation system with matching colour-coded ribbons for each section.

16_Vegetables from an Italian Garden