fresh cut rhubarb from my benriner: beloved Japanese mandolin slicer – ooh, so sharp!
for months now, we have been embroiled in what amounts to political gossip – daily kernels of news, amplified many times over their individual value – little satisfaction to be obtained. time to turn away from all of the voices and the devices for creative pursuits and thinking that is less anxiety making, more fruitful in a widened perspective...
we saw a spring riot of colors everywhere, rejoiced in the rain that alleviated the drought somewhat, and though we agonize over the fires burning, we are thankful for bountiful choices in produce. my thoughts turn once again to benrining.
do you know how simple it is to make up a store of dried bits, with the bonus of wonderful syrups to use? young ginger, fresh rhubarb and kumquats, then the stone fruits, to be dried and maybe caramelized as crunchy additions to bonbons: put this climate change surfeit of sun to work for you!
citrus is easy, and air drying is quick: simply use your favorite zester - i favor a microplane stick type, as I like mine to be fine, with no pith - arrange the zest in a single, open layer on a parchment covered tray or cookie sheet, and leave in open air (cover with netting if insects are present)
you can use the zests in so many ways. i love the flowery aspect of lemons - always delight in the transformation a lemon slice makes in a glass of water, and how it enlivens anything else...likewise I find adding citrus to the mix when caramelizing cacao nibs gives them a taste a little like wine...
and remember to always save the liquid and sugar you have left over:
precious gifts, pleasure to come...
be good, be good!
flying noir was just thoroughly vetted & then welcomed into the Good Food Merchants Guild! founded in 2012 to foster, distinguish and unite food producers from distillers to picklers, from new businesses to veterans, to become a vibrant economic force in America. each category (flying noir fits under confections) has a set of standards that must be met to ensure that this food is sustainable, is both environmentally and socially responsible. so yes,
PROUD MEMBER is exactly right!
310 total national members
24 in confections
celebrating mindful food consumption
my local hero
a few weeks back i met Joe during a Bi-Rite sampling session. he tasted kaffiri, a bonbon made with the zest of combava (the French word for kaffir lime or citrus hystrix). Joe volunteered that he has a small tree growing in a garden pot at his home in SF. greatly excited, i offered chocolate in exchange for any trimmings with which he could bear to part. we followed up via email, and i received a precious bag of leaves, and 3 exquisite small bumpy limes. in my passion to capture this complex flavor, i may have gotten a bit carried away: all of the leaves, the zest & pulp went into bonbons w 71% Grenada dark chocolate & caramel ganache, and into new boxes just out yesterday. the result is wildly tart & pungent - may curl your toes or crinkle your eyes! some of my favorite tasters at our annual Cousin Camp dinner last night agreed that it was not too tart, though...and later it did tame down.
Joe C has offered more cuttings in future - now he needs his chocolate - coming very soon!
thanks, Joe, my local hero!
an important lesson:
i just learned that kaffir is a particularly disparaging racial epithet in South Africa - equivalent to the n word here. research shows that the term goes back over several hundred years, and does have other correlations, but i have no wish to offer insults to anyone, so the new name for the bonbon is changing forthwith to makrut, the Thai name for the fruit. it has many uses in the cuisine of Asia and Africa, and in rum in Martinique, Madagascar & Reunion. also used in traditional medicine, as a cleanser and for religious purposes.
"come together right now..."
we celebrate our independence and the birth of the country this month, reaffirming the principles we were founded upon. one of the most important for me is that we are a nation of immigrants who came to seek a better life. we make room - though not always willingly or immediately - for those who bring their own heritage of beliefs & traditions that then begin contributing to the American quilt in all its richness and complexity. so this month is a celebration in chocolate of the edible bounty of taste experiences from afar....fascinating additions to the American palate.
so, now trying out new bonbon recipes w miso, caramelized black & green olives, fresh combava (see next blog post!), savory Saigon salt, rooibos, umeboshi pickled plums & a hint of habanero.
they all get along together at flying noir!
wonderful energy/patient tasters/images
last Sunday the 9th annual San Francisco Chocolate Salon was held at Fort Mason. we enjoyed a beautiful day by the Bay. lots of appreciative merriment, some solemn tasting,
and generous praise for flying noir, selected by the judges as Most Gifted Chocolatier/Brand. great thanks to each and every one of you for standing in line to taste, making for a day replete w nourishing morsels of chocolate conversations. i hope you all come to Emeryville so that we may continue them over new creations!
new project underway!
i always wonder how you react when tasting my chocolate, so have launched a collaborative project, one that depends on all of you! above you see one of the first selfies - thank you Gina & friends! - taken at the Salon. i am now gathering images - still and moving series - to make a collective video, so contribute if you like and it will grow...follow on the website.
not everyone enjoys the selfie process, so if you would like to write a comment, they will become part of it, too. no names...i will keep your privacy, and i will not censor.
come by for a sample to comment upon!
ethos and this Lunar New Year
a couple of days ago i listened to Terry Gross (NPR) interviewing David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker. i had been pondering the question of wider availability for flying noir chocolate, and what that would mean -
would i need to simplify or streamline the artistic process, lower my standards in any way? i was totally captivated when Remnick described a fabled copy editor's prowess, e.g. once finding 4 errors in a 3 word sentence, linking it to the high standards at the magazine as an "ethos of high attention". here was my answer! i googled the phrase and found reference to Aristotle 's three artistic proofs: ethos, pathos and logos.
yes again! a comprehensive focus…so
my course must always include the same obsessive attention to detail, the absorptive practice that enables creative flow, because this is where you must be when the magic man comes along, the joy in working well makes me whistle, and results are good.
now this may seem pretentious for mere bonbons, yet happiness in what you do makes all the difference, etc., etc. etc…
heat - "give me fever!" sang Peggy Lee
i like heat on the palate, but not so much that it overwhelms all else.
so "the little box of heat"
a limited edition 6 piece selection is a seasonal exploration of just some of the facets of things that make warm friends in the mouth with different kinds of chocolate: fresh New Mexico red habanero, local espelette chiles, young Fiji ginger petals, schichimi togarashi, Controne chile and savory pimento ahumado picante. entered into the International Chocolate Salon Truffle Artistry Award competition, just got word we took away 5 golds, including best Chocolatier/ brand and more. c'est si bon, si bon, si bon! listen to Eartha Kitt and band sing it, sing it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BvL-i--8Ws
wasn't she fabulous in every way!
breaking the bar!
the first great bar
this bar was more than 13" square and weighed more than 3 lbs. it was the first one made, for the opening reception of an exhibition of my small oil pastel drawings - the bearing series.
we all gathered in the center of the gallery making an enclosure of a clean drop cloth, and the local Paul Bunyan there dropped the bar within to break it. took two drops as it was exceedingly thick and slightly convex, but we made enough pieces so that everyone had a piece of the image to eat!
look for more of these in future. like the 4" square bars, each one will be one of a kind, but the size allows for a much more detailed image.
the drying season
we always see a plentiful supply of intriguing ingredients here by the Bay. Mornings and long evenings are often spent readying fresh ingredients from farmers' markets and local stores for use now and later. This currently includes dehydrating - au naturelle in these increasingly numerous hot days days; at least it saves energy! I like the tedium of making slices with my new Benriner mandolin, because I can then enjoy the variations in color and shape as I lay out each piece, growing patterns across a linen cloche. Rhubarb has such a delicate beauty, making a quilt of translucent red edged symbols of spring. Caramelizing it with yuzu yields a complex "jam" that is fabulous in the new ruzuzu bonbon. and citrus is still here, but waning…the race is on to prepare the last of it for future batches - who says you can't have local fruit out of season? it just requires a take charge outlook: make it yourself!
the citrus suite
in celebration of California citrus - cara cara oranges, honey tangerines, mandarinquats, meyer lemons & seville oranges i have been exploring flavor & textural combinations, learning all kinds of new tricks! how to capture these marvelous flavor elements with fleeting availability? peels, zests & syrups are a starting point, followed by citrus dusts, and "hard candy" (to be remelted and used again). this intense seasonal citrus lab is a sensory delight! these fruits have played major parts in global cuisine - perhaps as far back as 2500 B.C. the seville orange is native to China, but came into its own in Spain.
you must try the new sevilla bar or bonbon (in the citrus suite 6 pc box or in the 9 pc box) - a combo of 42% dark milk chocolate, sevilles, saffron, Saigon cinnamon & pimenton ahumado de la vera (Spanish smoked paprika dulce) - a mysterious fusion, more than the sum of its parts!