Monday, November 27, 2006

Fountains of chocolate

It seemed only right that being the chocolate girl I am that I have at least some chocolates at my birthday party. I was planning on serving chocolate cake, but then lovely friends offered to loan me their chocolate fountain – even though they couldn’t come to the party! So I ordered 2.5kg of 72% Callebaut from Raj (my new supplier ;-) ). Delighted that I could get cocoa butter to use to thin it down rather than vegetable oil (ick!). It was rather popular. (Understatement.)The marshmallows went quickly. Sponge cake, apples, grapes and bananas also were divine. Mmm…

I am grateful people never arrive on time because I still had my dressing gown over my dress to protect me from blending the dips! I kind of invited lots of people, rather casually, not really sure who might turn up, and not remembering to invite everyone (sorry!). Funny how those parties always end up the most fun. To be honest, I think most people came because I promised them food and cake! Well, I delivered, and the bonus fountain seemed a pleasant surprise and kept the party kicking until well after 2am (love that chocolate stuff! OK, so all the bottles of champers on the "bar" may have helped too).

I finally went to bed about 3.30am, leaving my brother and a couple of his mates and the mess, and more chocolate… Though we made quite a dent on the 2.5kg, I’ll be making more cakes and things soon I think, with this stock I will have to!

Friday, November 24, 2006

A chocolate birthday

Today is my birthday and I was given chocolate flowers. The most precious of all the cacao plantations in the world is the Porcelana plantation in Venezuela. Valrhona have created a signature gift box of three layers of chocolate pieces laid in the shape of an open flower. When you lift the cardboard layers that open like petals (and then the protective plastic) the smell is just divine! I had to leave the house at 7am to train 25 boys in public speaking so I decided to hold off on my treat until I returned.

I was treated to chocolate cake by the lead trainer after we finished. We debated whether the quality of the local Literary Café’s chocolate cake might only disspoint me but I was so desperate for chocolate by the end of this long day that if I was going to eat sugar it had to be with chocolate. It was a very satisfying cake. Moist and made with cocoa, just like the quick cakes I used to make when I was younger. A comforting, nostaligic treat.

Tonight I’m being taken for a surprise dinner… as long there is chocolate somewhere on the menu! :-D

Saturday, November 11, 2006

5 desserts, but no chocolate?

Five desserts and not one of them chocolate. Surprising.

I had been counting down the days to last night's dinner in the Library at Sketch. I went with my foodie friend Kevin and his fiance and Kevin's friend Matt who runs a very cool cookery school for everyone:

The lack of chocolate in the five dessert selections was made up for by the petit fours to follow: a white chocolate and chartreuse ever-so-light whipped ganache, a piece of milk mendiant bark, with pistachio, hazelnut and dried fruit, an incredible milk chocolate case with a passionfruit and salted caramel centre; and a (non-chocolate) rhubarb jelly square. I could have eaten a plate of the passionfruit chocolates. The five desserts were also very good. The first course of my taster menu was divine too: a beetroot and raspberry coulis with coco beans.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Newtons Chocolates in Clapham.

My uncle is visiting from South Africa and he took us out for dinner last night. We went to Newtons on Abbeville Road. It was almost empty when we arrived just before 8pm but gradually filled up. The staff are really friendly with just the right amount of attentiveness. My brother and uncle loved their lamb shanks. When it came time for dessert we had trouble deciding. We couldn’t decide who should get the chocolate brownie and who the lemon tart, with the plan to share but knowing that like with all siblings we probably wouldn’t if one of them was especially good. We both got the brownie. It was served hot and very dense. With walnuts which apparently so rare in brownies these days that my brother wondered what they were doing in there. Also on the menu were Newtons Chocolate truffles. After ordering the brownie I quizzed the waitress: “They are made with Valhrona”. Darn it. This meant I just had to try them. We ordered 6 to take away after dinner, and each ate one at the table. They were just taken from the fridge so apart from recognising they were good it was impossible to tell just how good. The liqueur was so subtle we couldn’t even taste it, and the chef who had made the batch earlier that day had left and so couldn’t tell us what it was. Upon trying another truffle again this morning I could see that they really were made with Valhrona. It’s amazing what a difference it makes tasting it at room temperature. Having them cold completely dulls the taste.