Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Belgian chocolates

My lovely colleague went to Belgium this weekend and brought me back a range of chocolates to try. Isn’t he great? Nehaus, Pierre Marcolini and ??. The Pierre Marcolini bar is fantastic – dark with pecans. I have so far only had a nibble of the others and they are very Belgian – sweet and rather creamy. I’m definitely more of a dark, intense girl (when it comes to chocolate). When I have the chance I will do a more thorough review.

He is my fellow foodie friend – though with considerably more experience and intensity in his quest to review the Michelin starred restaurants of Europe.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I love the Chocolate buyers at Waitrose

I love Waitrose. OK, so they aren't the cheapest supermarket if you're looking for commodities. But if you love good food they are brilliant. They source the best quality products and ingredients. Their own brand food is void of unessential additives. I generally don't like cakes unless they are from a quality bakery or home baked by me or someone else I know, yet the cake line they launched last year is fantastic.

What I love most about Waitrose is their chocolate section. Far from Asda that doesn't even stock Lindt, Waitrose has chocolate bars from Valhrona, Michel Cluizel and Rococo - amongst others.

In a plan to begin the chocolate education of friends I bought a bar of Michel Cluizel's blue lined variety (I don't have it with me and I've forgotten the country of origin!). We ended up having Haagen Daaz and Thai Bananas that I made for dinner so the chocolate got laid aside. But I opened it yesterday. Recently I've been enjoying my chocolate more in baked goods or in truffles and filled chocolates. I had actually forgotten just how delicious quality chocolate is on its own - how much flavour is in the chocolate that comes entirely from the bean, no difference in the processing whatsoever. It is this kind of chocolate that I really can manage to stop after just a small amount. I'm looking forward to attending another Seventy Percent tasting next week. So I can be reminded again of the variations in pure chocolate. Yum.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

a baking bonanza...

I’ve just gotten back from a lovely weekend visiting my friend in the South. This is the first weekend in ages that it hasn’t been consistently sunny. Today it rained, but only when we actually went out to the stables, so we didn’t go for a ride. By the time we got back and had some more food before my train journey home the sun had reemerged and it was actually quite warm, lounging in her conservatory. But, I had to get back to London and so the horses will have to wait for another visit. Funny weather days that can’t seem to decide whether to rain or shine. As the train pulled out from the platform the skies darkened and the heavens opened again, gently cascading drops upon my window pane.

The upside to having odd, inconsistent weather is that it is ideal for baking! Dani has something of a peanut butter addiction, and had an idea that if peanut butter flapjacks hadn’t been invented then I would know how to do it. Of course, good old google knows all and managed to spur forth a suggestion. I also remembered a choc-chip cookie recipe that had peanut butter in it too.

“Which one should we make…? Or should we just make both?”



So, make both we did. And both were delicious. We put both dark and white chocolate chunks in the cookies (proper chocolate, of course). I think, if I made them again, I’d put milk into the mix too. Why not?

I arrived back in London loaded with the foil wrapped goodies, I might be eating these all week...

Friday, August 11, 2006

Proper chocolate in a sushi place?

My new favourite place to eat in the city: Itsu. Healthy and delicious, you choose to put the dressing on yourself, the teas are real, the juices fresh and the prices reasonable. AND they have an assortment of desserts that includes a Valhrona chocolate mousse. Valrhona! While I’m sure most people who buy their lunch their don’t understand the significance, this makes some serious claims about their commitment to quality. I’m sad to say I forewent the opportunity to sample the dessert, based on my belief that I was going to be picking up some chocolates a lovely friend brought me back from Paris a few weeks ago. If their other food is anything to go by, the dessert would be delicious I’m sure.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Chocolate and Prunes

Oops, I promised a report on that cake I made last week. Well, it’s a distant memory now, but simmering prunes in port and mixing them with yoghurt makes a divine filling for any chocolate based cake, and made the cake. I really should have written about it whilst the memory was still fresh. I have to say though, the actual wasn’t so outstanding that I would bother repeating the recipe anyway…

Don't leave chocolate in the car!

Or kids, or dogs.

I went to the market to get some of my favourite chocolates to send back to Australia - some for the friend I was meeting Sunday night, and some for her to give to my Holly. Then went for a picnic in Richmond park.


The chocolates became a chocolate blob. Well, I don't think it was quite that severe, but certainly separating them will be a challenge. Still, it (not "they" anymore) will still taste good and there was no chance to buy fresh ones.

So girls, I hope you enjoy them! And next opportunity I'll send you more!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Chocolate Whisky Gateau

The chocolate whisky gateau was a success, though using “real” chocolate means that next time we need to add more whiskey (well, I thought so!). A garnish of blackcurrants was the perfect accompaniment.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The chocolate jogger

I must have looked a sight this afternoon, in my runners and visor, jogging along with my phone in one hand (useful as my radio, my contact with the world and for taking photos of the cute squirrel that crossed my path) and a bar of Green & Black's silver wrapped cooking chocolate in my other hand. Looked like I was carrying my reward!

Finally have all the ingredients to make chocolate whisky gateau for dinner party tomorrow eve. Think I better start making it now!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Averting near Chocolate disaster

I ran to Tesco just now because I decided I wanted to test a new recipe to put in the newsletter. Also might be useful for dinner party this Friday if it works well. Got to Tesco and remembered I’d left prunes and port on the stove on simmer. D’oh. Ah… The flat smelt delicious when I returned! And I think we’ll be able to salvage the pot.

This cake better be good! Full report to follow…

Ooh, it just started raining. Nice timing!