leaving mendocino county friends and clients beside the everchanging blue pacific, with its astonishing burgundy late afternoon light, the constant awareness of gentle giants sliding by in the deep, wildlife all around, so much a part of every day...
i became a chocolatier on the north coast, learned and dreamed, pursuing an understanding of chocolate with passion and determination, weaving together the tenets of a changing life, finding new channels to swim in.
i hope to return one day, but now it is the excitement and diversity of the bay i once more embrace...so many changes in the 6+ years i have been away. i survey the local scene here in Oakland, want to get involved and work to realize my dream of growing enough to create new knowledge and work opportunities for others.
let's see how it goes: i'll put my whole heart into this effort, hoping you try my chocolate and become part of the story.
it is a silvery green day, with long period west northwesterly swells sweeping into quiet beaches. a time for hot chocolate and cheer, bonbons between friends...a time to reflect before celebrating in thanks for friends and family.
and a time for dreaming of the next new recipes: winter fruit in abundance, the favorite bergamo bars and bonbons to come, and a play of the bitter with the sweet: sevilles and calamondins, Palestine sweet limes. ah, new fragrance and palate pleasures!
it has been a heady month! first Dessert Professional naming me as 1 of the Top 10 Chocolatiers in America for the year, then
the International Chocolate Salon Awards:
9 gold, 6 silver, 4 bronze! and San Francisco
Fall Luxury Chocolate Salon: 3 gold, including Best in Salon, 4 silver, 1 bronze. but no resting on laurels here - much work to do, higher than ever standards to meet. it is good to know that
a different viewpoint is well received by peers & judges in addition to wonderful clientele accross the country, so i salute you all, and thank you for your encouragement!
man & wife, friends & family,
celebrating a joyous union with chocolate!
all the elements of romance: color and light, sweetness, fine chocolate, handcarved initials...
M+R, R+M .... mates for life
the chocolate world lost a generous, singularly inspirational and highly principled champion recently in a tragic accident. Mott Green, primary founder of the Grenada Chocolate Company, died while working on the solar equipment that powers the small batch factory in Grenada's pristine rainforest. he worked hard to ensure that all cooperative participants - cocoa farmers and chocolate makers - received the highest wage possible.
sustainable all the way: grown & processed locally, then delivered by clipper ship to east coast US & Europe, (then by bicycle through the streets of the Netherlands!). last fall, after much sampling, their 71% became the dark organic chocolate- the most crucial component - in the flying noir bars and bonbons: a complex chocolate, marvelously rewarding, not always easy to work with... puzzling through best use has been a great adventure, one that will continue...
read more about clipper ship Tres Hombres
and his own words in his log of aging newly made chocolate bars during deliveries:
and here he tells the story .... thank you, Mott.
i have been experimenting with these petite szechuan beauties...xanthoxylum peperitum, berries of the prickly ash , native to China... ...closely related to the north American "toothache tree" as it has a numbing effect.
not really hot, or "spicy" in the usual sense,
but mysterious, intriguing, of the earth, and hard to leave alone!.
how to use them with chocolate?
somehow the texture needed to be different, somewhat rougher, not so creamy. make a little caramel for standup strength, dark milk chocolate to play up the flavor, fleur de sel to mirror the earthy component. first batch for my best friend, Jen, who likes my small cubes, and pearly pink to stay in character - voila the sze begins. next batch, go for more oompa: make a sheet of ganache, enrobe, but reserve some for sampling, cut really tiny and tumble pink again - a big hit last weekend, introduced to focus the palate before tasting a wine bonbon, surprisingly successful with everyone! soon to become limited edition periodic offerings
fun, fun !
the Breggo Savoy bonbon
continuing my exploration of wine ganache...
this time partnering with BreggoVineyards of Anderson Valley. we are to be tent mates,
featured at Mendocino's A Taste of Chocolate Wine & Ale this coming Sunday, and since
i always try to create recipes that celebrate the venue, i asked them to choose a wine to combine w chocolate.
this fine 2010 Pinot Noir from their Savoy vineyard is their featured wine...it gives an interesting aspect to the ganache, a bit like toasted brioche, and goes well while tasting the wine...they commissioned a first batch to be offered (w seven handpainted designs) to guests at the winery's Pinot Noir Festival event last Sunday. evidently the 110 bonbons went quickly, with genial fighting over the last ones!!! a new batch will be available this Sunday in Mendocino at Chocolate Wine & Ale...
o joy! i found some!
Berkeley Bowl comes through! buddha hands are officially out of season, but i scored the last of this year's crop - 10 gorgeous fruits -
from the Bowl near Ashby and the new store on Heinz. Hooray! the first went into Everclear as lovely fluttering petals to yield flavor over the next few months that will go into ganache. within 8 hours i put it into buddha bars - the beginnings of a new line of ganache bars that began with the surprise element for circle noir members, soon to be launched as a limited edition series - featuring fresh flavors as they come into season. watch for more chapters in this little book to come...
o tragedy !
went to retrieve a couple of buddha's hands
from my precious box in cold storage to make a new bonbon, buddha's...found only sad remnants, all spoiled - the whole wonderful box.
each year i look forward to creating with these for a brief space of time and now they are gone - til next year. I have a single jar of dried zest and a jar of preserved fingers from friend Shirley that will have to hold me...sigh
here's an assortment shared with other chocolatiers at the Ecole Chocolat luncheon held in conjunction with the annual Fine Chocolate Industry Association meeting -
natural colors at play - fun, fun...
click to enlarge the photo