On The Chocolate Trail: Valentine’s Day: For Love or Chocolate?

By Tuesday, February 14, 2012 Permalink 0
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by Christina Daub

Let’s face it if you have to choose, you can’t go wrong with chocolate. You’re not falling into anything, although a nice vat of it could be inviting and you’re certainly not pining for the one who left you. Chocolates: you take them or you leave them. Even if you leave them, they stay in their box till you come back and want them again.

Unless you live with a chocoholic. Then you have twelve-step programs like Choc Anon, CODACE (Codependent Anonymous Chocoholic Enablers) and various other support groups where people wear brown, eat brown, drink and think brown. I’ve even heard talk of this day becoming a national holiday replete with parades…can’t you just see the marching strawberries slipping on their chocolate cloaks, the brownie floats, the truffle-shaped Porsche inching along where Miss Chocolate 2011 stands waving in her edible Amazon-wear, hot off the Paris runways?

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On the Chocolate Trail: The Elizabeth Taylor Special, the Chocolatini

By Tuesday, February 14, 2012 Permalink 0
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by Christina Daub

Who invented the chocolatini?

With all we remember about chocolatini, her legendary eyes and films and husbands and tireless efforts on the behalf of AIDS victims, the Hollywood queen was also, by the way, an icon of the chocolate world.

In 1953, her face sold Whitman’s chocolates ads for Valentine’s that year. In 1955, she and Rock Hudson invented the Senator John Warner, a concoction of vodka, Kahlua and Hershey’s syrup after working long hours on the set of Giant in Marfa, TX. Taylor proclaimed it “the best drink I ever tasted.”

But my favorite Taylor contribution to the chocolate world was one you could order just five blocks from the White House. During her marriage to National Velvet, she frequented the show restaurant in Washington DC, Dominique’s. It may not have had the best food in town, but its patrons attracted attention like no one else and people went to see and be seen. Autographed photographs of Ted Kennedy and Tony Bennett, Robert Redford and others glammed the walls while exotic mounted animals, an alligator, a lion and several other large creatures loomed near diners craning their necks between bites.

I don’t remember what I ate for dinner at Dominique’s since already in those days, my sole focus was on dessert. And the Elizabeth Taylor Special was as extravagant as she was. I ordered it every time.

It looked heavenly, a large cloud of whipped cream, but inside this cumulus pouf hovering on the signature Dominique plate, were the real jewels: five chocolate truffles, brown diamonds every one.

Dominique’s no longer exists having been sold by its original owner in 1987, but that dessert will float on in my memory more than Cleopatra, poet or any other work Liz Taylor graced with her fierce talent and jaw-dropping beauty.

—————

On The Chocolate Trail: Christina Daub is an American The Poet’s Cookbook who has spent her life traveling around the world in search of great chocolate. She is also the editor of the Food Poetry section. Published in The Poet’s Cookbook series, she has work in the first volume, which included poems and recipes from Tuscany (in English and Italian), and the second (in German and English), published by the Goethe Institute. She teaches creative writing at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

 

 

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Chocolate News: It’s chocolate week, & here are some exciting chocolate adventures around the world

By Tuesday, October 11, 2011 Permalink 0
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by Jonell Galloway

This is one of the best and most comprehensive lists I’ve seen about high-quality chocolate adventures around the world. I want to go them all!

Click here to read the entire article.

The evidence continues to build a factual basis that dark chocolate is actually good for you. See the related articles:

  • Chocolate – the miracle drug?
  • Chocolate Week Heaven
  • High Chocolate Consumption Linked To Lower Stroke Risk In Females

And in Peru, they’re still finding new varieties of chocolate. Exciting future for chocoholics! Click here to read.

 

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Food Art: Chocolate and peanut ice cream and Co, food photography by SandeeA

By Monday, August 29, 2011 Permalink 0
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These photos are by SandeeA, author of the column Food Play, and who runs a site called La Receta de la Felicidad. SandeeA is never lacking ideas when it comes to playful, fun recipes. Click here to find the recipe for making chocolate and peanut ice cream. It would be a great recipe to get your kids in the kitchen!

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Destination Dessert: Sweet Focaccia with Strawberries and Dark Chocolate Ganache

By Monday, July 18, 2011 Permalink 0
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by Jamie Schler

STARTING OVER – Step 1

Like the beat beat beat of the tom-tom
When the jungle shadows fall
Like the tick tick tock of the stately clock
As it stands against the wall
Like the drip drip drip of the raindrops
When the summer shower is through
So a voice within me keeps repeating you, you, you

Night and day, you are the one
Only you beneath the moon or under the sun
Whether near to me, or far
Its no matter darling where you are
I think of you
–Cole Porter


“Life is an adventure,” she said, no trace of cliché on her lips. He scooted down a little lower, snuggling deeper into his corner of the sofa. His eyes searched out her own, slightly pleading, slightly mocking, filled with the desire to believe her once again. She had just returned from Germany and stepped off of the airplane into a new life, one of risk and a daring adventure, one of complete togetherness. They were tossing caution to the wind in their great desire to grab at happiness and contentment, something so rare these days. And from here on out they would be together each and every day, all day and into the night.

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Switzerland: In Geneva, no shortage of chocolate Easter bunnies

By Thursday, April 21, 2011 Permalink 0
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swiss_chocolate_geneva_auer_chocolatier

The best chocolate is indisputably to be found in Switzerland, and despite the much talked-about cocoa shortages, I would guess Geneva still has the highest concentration of high-quality, original Easter chocolates, so I thought I’d give you a little help in finding the perfect chocolate for your needs.

There is much discussion among natives of Geneva as to which is best, but purist that I am, no matter how many chocolate shops I try, I always come back to the same one: Chocolaterie Auer, located downtown in the main tram street.

They offer the traditional dark, milk and white chocolate bunnies and eggs, and even if their creations are perhaps not as aesthetically original as some others, the quality of the chocolate cannot be rivaled. There’s nothing like chocolate made straight from the bean. Industrial cocoa powder just doesn’t cut it in my book.

(While you’re buying your gifts, you might want to pick up one of their divine chocolate macaroons and a package of their not-so-fattening chocolate-covered almonds for yourself …)

The Rambling Epicure. Editor, Jonell Galloway.

The Rambling Epicure. Editor, Jonell Galloway.
The Rambling Epicure. Editor, Jonell Galloway.

Nearby, Chocolats Rohr produces some smashingly beautiful Easter bunnies and eggs made of top-quality chocolate.

La Bonbonnière, across from the Fnac, also does good-quality chocolate “works of art”, including chocolate fountains and a wide range of Easter themes. Their chocolate pignons are as light as angel wings.

At the other end of the street, Gilles Desplanches offers a wide variety of original figures and mixtures of flavors, as well as the traditional dark, milk and white chocolate, with an extended range of eggs (some topped with dinosaurs and other interesting figures that children will love), as well as bunnies, fish, chicks, etc.

When I discovered Chocolaterie-Confiserie Christophe Berger a few years ago, the man took my heart away. He’s always coming up with new combinations: dark chocolate with figs or slivers of crunchy candied ginger; every visit brings another surprise. For Easter, he keeps to the traditional, but then Easter is a traditional occasion, isn’t it? His pastries and cakes are also of excellent quality and really worth a try, although since the shop is small, he can’t keep many in stock, so it’s best to order a few days ahead of time. And please don’t let the shabby awning put you off. There’s nothing shabby about his products!

Today I tasted a single piece of dark chocolate from Les Ephémères in Lausanne and would like to taste more. Their website shows some exquisite fine-lace chocolate eggs, some highly original flavored truffles, including absinthe and ginger, wild strawberry, and coconut and vanilla, as well as organic chocolate. This is definitely a place to check out. The organic chocolate is also available at Bio Servette in Geneva.

swiss_chocolate_bar_geneva_gilles_desplanches

swiss_chocolate_geneva_auer_chocolatier

The best chocolate is indisputably to be found in Switzerland, and despite the much talked-about cocoa shortages, I would guess Geneva still has the highest concentration of high-quality, original Easter chocolates, so I thought I’d give you a little help in finding the perfect chocolate for your needs.

There is much discussion among natives of Geneva as to which is best, but purist that I am, no matter how many chocolate shops I try, I always come back to the same one: Chocolaterie Auer, located downtown in the main tram street.

They offer the traditional dark, milk and white chocolate bunnies and eggs, and even if their creations are perhaps not as aesthetically original as some others, the quality of the chocolate cannot be rivaled. There’s nothing like chocolate made straight from the bean. Industrial cocoa powder just doesn’t cut it in my book.

(While you’re buying your gifts, you might want to pick up one of their divine chocolate macaroons and a package of their not-so-fattening chocolate-covered almonds for yourself …)

The Rambling Epicure. Editor, Jonell Galloway.

The Rambling Epicure. Editor, Jonell Galloway.
The Rambling Epicure. Editor, Jonell Galloway.

Nearby, Chocolats Rohr produces some smashingly beautiful Easter bunnies and eggs made of top-quality chocolate.

La Bonbonnière, across from the Fnac, also does good-quality chocolate “works of art”, including chocolate fountains and a wide range of Easter themes. Their chocolate pignons are as light as angel wings.

At the other end of the street, Gilles Desplanches offers a wide variety of original figures and mixtures of flavors, as well as the traditional dark, milk and white chocolate, with an extended range of eggs (some topped with dinosaurs and other interesting figures that children will love), as well as bunnies, fish, chicks, etc.

When I discovered Chocolaterie-Confiserie Christophe Berger a few years ago, the man took my heart away. He’s always coming up with new combinations: dark chocolate with figs or slivers of crunchy candied ginger; every visit brings another surprise. For Easter, he keeps to the traditional, but then Easter is a traditional occasion, isn’t it? His pastries and cakes are also of excellent quality and really worth a try, although since the shop is small, he can’t keep many in stock, so it’s best to order a few days ahead of time. And please don’t let the shabby awning put you off. There’s nothing shabby about his products!

Today I tasted a single piece of dark chocolate from Les Ephémères in Lausanne and would like to taste more. Their website shows some exquisite fine-lace chocolate eggs, some highly original flavored truffles, including absinthe and ginger, wild strawberry, and coconut and vanilla, as well as organic chocolate. This is definitely a place to check out. The organic chocolate is also available at Bio Servette in Geneva.

swiss_chocolate_bar_geneva_gilles_desplanches

If you’re buying gifts for adults, you may want to steer away from the bunnies and eggs. The After the Rain spa offers chocolate baths and wraps followed by a Turkish bath for couples. All year long, Gilles Desplanches’ chocolate bar proffers up rich hot chocolate that can rival Angelina’s in Paris, as well as cold chocolate. There’s a flavor for everyone because the choice is large: salted-butter caramel, white nougat, wild mint, coconut, amaretto, Cayenne pepper and Tabasco, orange and cinnamon. We’re not talking about powdered cocoa to which you add hot water, but the “black gold” variety.

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On the Chocolate Trail: Easter Dead? Say It Isn’t So!

By Friday, April 1, 2011 Permalink 0
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by Christina Daub

According to the Huffington Post, Easter is about to “be killed” and Passover “injured” due to the continuing political unrest in the Ivory Coast influencing the rising costs of cocoa.

Yes, forty percent of the world’s supply is still being held up in the ports of Abidjan and San Pedro, and the costs to chocolatiers and consumers continue to rise, but enough to leave all the chocolate Easter Bunnies sitting on the store shelves, certainly not.

In fact I have seen more chocolate Easter products on the shelves of DC area stores than ever before. The Harris Teeter chain seems to be loaded with “sale” Lindt chocolate rabbits, carrots and eggs. World Market is a cornucopia of Easter treats and the CVS stores were giving out dollar coupons one could use to buy Dove chocolate eggs recently.

The chocolate world may be suffering a major setback, but please let’s remember the real victims in the chocolate war are the Ivorian growers and pickers, their livelihoods threatened by the two men vying for government control.

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On The Chocolate Trail: Elizabeth Taylor Chocolate Notes

By Monday, March 28, 2011 Permalink 0
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We wanted to share the comments and feedback we received about Christina Daub’s On the Chocolate Trail: The Elizabeth Taylor Special.

Alternative Recipe for Liz Taylor Special

A friend in Bethesda just asked about recipe for the Liz Taylor Special. All you do is place your favorite truffles artfully on your plate–and if you want to buy them, instead of make them, I suggest you get the Budapest truffles at Kron in DC and then cover them completely with whipped cream.

You might try sweetening the whipped cream with a splash of Grand Marnier and a sprinkling of sugar. This is an irresistible combination with the dark sumptuous truffles.

Alternative Recipe for a Chocolatini

Rim glass in cocoa powder or if you prefer sweeter, add some icing sugar to the cocoa first.

In a martini shaker, shake together one shot Smirnoff vanilla vodka and a shot of Godiva chocolate liquer over ice. Stir in 2 shots of cream and cocoa powder to taste. Shake quickly and strain into martini glass.

Alternative Recipe for a Chocolatini using vodka and Bailey’s Irish Creme

You can also use plain vodka and add Bailey’s Irish Creme to it and use creme de cacao instead of Godiva.

Garnish with dark chocolate shavings for some added pizazz.

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On the Chocolate Trail: World’s Chocolate Supply Threatened

By Wednesday, March 9, 2011 Permalink 0
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by Christina Daub

Bad news for the chocolate world. The largest cocoa producing country in the world, the Ivory Coast, is on the verge of civil war and all of its cocoa has been seized by the state in a move that the US State Department yesterday said, “amounted to theft.”

Despite losing the election last year, Laurent Gbgabo, stated his government would take over paying the farmers and selling the beans on the open market in yet another move to resist handing over power to Alassane Ouattara the UN-sanctified winner. Ouattara countered with the statement that any exporter co-operating with Gbgabo will lose his license when Ouattara finally takes over.

EU sanctions and a ban on cocoa exports already put into place by Ouattara as a way of squeezing Gbgabo’s access to funds prompted this sudden move to nationalize cocoa production in the country that produces roughly 40% of the world’s output..

What does this mean for the chocolate making industry?  According to Bloomberg’s Poppy Trowbridge, cocoa rose to record high of US$3,444/ton in the month of February driving prices up 20% since the November 28th election.  And for the investor? In London yesterday, cocoa futures for May delivery rose to US$3, 858/metric ton. Meanwhile an estimated half million tons of the cacao beans are sitting in the ports of Abidjan and San Pedro as buyers are unsure which head of state to follow and do not want to violate existing sanctions agreed on by the international community. Smuggling, already in practice via neighboring countries, is expected to rise.

As consumers who already consider fine chocolate a luxury, get ready. Prices will only be going up, up, up. Time to stockpile.

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