Sunday, February 22, 2015

50 Days of Chocolate so far..

50 days of chocolate: 14
This box of delectable was delivered Saturday night, late, to our door right off the truck. Exclusive handmade 5ive-o chocolates by Meghan Allynn Johnson. The Matcha Mint was the best mint filled truffle we've ever had, creamy, smooth, with an under taste of tea. The Blackberry with 60 percent filling was good, fresh, not too sweet, but not out of orbit remarkable. Cinnamon + Cayenne had a real bite and heat in an incredibly rich ganache with a hint of cinnamon, and I adored the Liquid Caramel Dome, caramel is soft, toasty sweet, melts in mouth, and as it goes the dark choco exterior becomes ascendant. Jim and I thank you Lenny Steinbach! An A+

50 days of chocolate: 13
A sip of Makers Mark bourbon, let its numbness fade to aromatic sizzle on the tongue and let one of the divine French Broad chocolates melt on that tongue and you will say it is a sweet valentine. Nadine Charlsen sent us these lovely "hand crafted" treats from Ashville, NC, and we thank her. Just had the hazelnut crunch, with a creamy milk chocolate filling and little chunks of hazelnuts. Enrolled in a delicious dark. Mmmmmm.

50 days of Chocolate: 12
Thanks to Rob Rosenthal, I had a tasting of two dark chocolates with home team Jim and visiting Natalie. We're eating Endangered Species 72% and 88% dark. Nat preferred the 88, I liked both, Jim hated the 88 saying it was like Bakers, yuck. Nat loves the little cocoa nibs. She suggested we try the extra dark with bourbon, a treat she and Jackson love. Not having any bourbon,we each got a shot of scotch. Jim changed his tune. I love the rich smooth complex flavor of these dark pure squares but for quick snacking the sweeter one.

Wonderful artisanal chocolates tend to go stale within a month. Me and my homie minions cannot keep up with the taste testing lab samples (in the home larder of the cool north facing window in my bedroom). I hit upon the happy and obvious solution of sharing them with my work pals. It is amazing how quickly a box of goodies empties in the canteen. Clearly the fact that AFMDA just earned the highest rating, 4 STARS!!!!, at Charity Navigator is making some of us smile, but I'd like to think the dark chocolate high is also lifting spirits.

50 days of chocolate: 11
This morning, as I got my breakfast 2 nibble (I'm part hobbit, I like a second breakfast) from Pret, the cashier asked me if I would like a mocha. It took me awhile to realize she was offering me a free choco-infused coffee that had not been picked up. I accepted it and felt like a chosen person.
The coffee was pleasant, "not too much" as advertised on the cup, and had a faint chocolaty under taste. It makes me think I should consider other mocha makers, more specifically, Caitlin Allen, barista extraordinaire at the Queens Kickshaw.
I also got chosen today in another, deeply moving, way. My name was thrown in a hat (at CancerCare) and I was picked to get a gift of theatre tickets, money for dinner, and a bag of chocolate goodies; all provided by a woman who used to love going to cultural events with her sister. This much missed sister led to a lovely gift for people like me. Best of all she expanded it to include both my daughters. So we are off to see Avenue Q tonight.

50 Days of Chocolate: 10
I have to be the most chocolate gifted person on the Upper West Side. Thanks to my friend Margo Fox, a lovely box of artisan chocolates arrived in the mail from Life by Chocolate. Jim got a rather long call this morning from his producer as I was jonesing for coffee, so I opened the brown box with its pale green stripes and ribbon, and very fetching chocolate covered goodies. I tried a mint filled piece and wasn't wowed...then I grabbed a bumpy one, that looked a bit like a falafel ball, and it turned out to be coated in cinnamon, maybe a dash of pepper, and crunchy raw sugar over the mother geode filling of ganash. The ganash was rather like icing but thicker and made of high quality ingredients. With Caitlin, Jim, and Austin, I tried the cherry filled chocolate cordial, and while appreciating the refusal to be too sweet, felt it was a tad too sour and needed a bit more juice. We also missed having an identifying list of the individual flavors. Thank you Margo, exploration to continue. A combined total of B- so far from a small sampling.

50 Days of Chocolate: 9
A box arrived at my door, a gift from Patrick Delaney. He figured he would add to my chocolate adventures with a "Collection of Vosges Dark Chocolate 65% Cacao Truffles." So I invited him over to dinner for an in depth taste testing on the dining room table portion of the home lab. Also lending their culinary attention were Caitlin Allen and James Racheff. The dark purple and gold packaging was enticing. Once we opened the box, a high quality scent of primo dark poured out. I cut the dainty truffles into quarters. Here are the results:
Budapest, sweet Hungarian paprika. It freaked Jim out to mix paprika with chocolate. I didn't mind the combo since the base chocolate was excellent. But I agreed with Patrick the spice left a bitter aftertaste unbecoming to the name truffle.
Chef Pascal, kirsch & dried Michigan cherry. I didn't get a piece with enough cherry, Jim and Caitlin did and liked it.
Oaxaca, guajillo & pasilla chillies & organic pumpkin seeds. Surprisingly tasty, the pumpkin and heat melting into chocolatey surrender.
Tlan Nacu, Mexican vanilla bean. Absolute favorite, practically orgasmic. The vanilla was fresh and not too sweet. A perfect blend.
I passed on the Polline di Finocchio, wild Tuscan fennel pollen & floral anise, but Caitlin and Patrick felt it was a delightful combo, especially since one doesn't think of liquorish and chocolate being a great meet up. Caitlin mentioned it really was floral.
We all agreed the 65% shell was utterly perfect, smooth and not bitter.
One won't necessarily love all the flavors, but it is such fun to try them. Overall a big A to A+ depending on your tastes! Thank you Patrick!

50 Days of Chocolate: 8
My brother Anders bought me this delightful bittersweet chocolate covered marzipan bar made by Niederegger of Lubeck, Germany. I brought it to the taste testing lab of my couch during reruns of Big Bang Theory. The filling is the freshest I've ever had, not too sweet, finely ground, and proves to me most marzipan treats I've had over the years were a crude sad sugary cement. The shell is great, but if I could change one thing, the shell would be thicker and give a more chocolaty shout back to the nutty almondy insides. This is an...A+ 
I shared the last third with my husband and he concurs with the rating.

50 Days of Chocolate: 6
Sometimes you gotta try something healthy. I can really taste the banana, which is fine, and I appreciate the freedom from gluten. Fresh & Co. did a great job with a dark chocolate bitter purity...balanced by the cashews...but, sigh, one misses milk fats and that brain addicting sugar. The bar is somewhat soft and lacks a satisfying chew. This one is a C+

50 Days of Chocolate: 5
I just ate a talenti Double Dark Chocolate gelato pop. And it was goooooood. The outer dark chocolate "enrobing" shell was crisp, crackly, crunchy and not too sweet. Perfect. The dark chocolate gelato filling was nice, a smidge on the salty side, but not amazing. Maybe there wasn't enough differentiation in flavor from shell to filling. I know vanilla provides the contrast this treat needs. I give this an A-

50 days of Chocolate: 4
While wandering Chelsea Market with my foodie brother he noticed an enticing glass bon bon case and as soon as I saw it held Leonides Belgium imported goodies, I was set. My server, Emily, was great in helping me pick out dark chocolate truffles and more. I told her about the fifty days. Why are you doing that? I said the grim grayish days of winter required the brightening of chocolates. She was so behind my sentiment she gave me a free square of pure dark!
The last time I had devoured this brand was in Brittany, during an odd but memorable barge trip. I'd gotten a small box and the fresh amazing truffles had left me with a feeling I'd found manna from the gods.
Tonight I had 3 truffles, hazelnut, champagne, and ganache filled. They were good. But, alas, the magic of being in France and utterly fresh compared to slightly less fresh and on my couch on the Upper West Side took them from amazing to very good. Not legendary. Not revolutionary. About as good as the treats from my neighborhood place, Mondells. Were they better abroad? Hard to say. I am going to call this Tourist Effect. Grade, B.

50 Days of Chocolate: 2
My delightful loving brother Anders and my loving divine sister Christina visited me this last week with their spouses and kids and cheer. I had an amazing time and feel much loved. Christi left first so yesterday I went on a food oriented trip to Chelsea with Anders, wife Lyn, and their kids Max, Hayden & Owen. It takes out of towners to introduce me to things like the Doughnut Plant on 220 W. 23rd (btwn. 7th and 8th Aves.) and the overwhelmingly crowded Chelsea Market down on West 15th St. and 9th Ave. (More about what I got there later today!)
I highly recommend Doughnut Plant for fun decor, a wall full of doughnut pillows, a bench with more doughnuts illustrated in lucite, a fanciful if expensive selection of treats, and a delightful rich latte. I got the chocolate blackout cake doughnut and it was a chocolate layer cake somehow contained in an innertube shape, complete with frosting and filling. It was good...a B, but the creme brûlée and pistachio were my favorites of the ones I sampled with my relatives.
I need to go back and try some of the others. But no strong urge to get another triple chocolate doughnut. And alas, they only carry the marzipan ones on holidays, poor Anders. Although the pistachio was somehow ringing in harmony.

50 Days of Chocolate: 1

On the advice of my family, including Dr. Lyn Yasumura, I am officially starting my 50 days of chocolate. Today's tastings involved a Numi organic pu-erh tea (a gift from Cousin Becca) and big marble sized truffles from Harry & David (a gift from my parents). The tea had a light evanescence of chocolate over a solid black tea flavor with undertones of vanilla, cinnamon, and other spices. For a chocolate addict like myself, pleasant but missing the oomph. The truffle has a perfectly nice exterior of dark chocolate but the filling was harder to categorize, it took awhile to realize it was attempting cappuccino. It was a bit too sweet and bland. Overall the Harry & David cappuccino dark chocolate truffle was a C+, easy enough to eat but even easier to forget. The Numi tea was a B, nice for the nose but left my chocolate belly yearning for the real thing.

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