Inspired to find your niche – chocolatier, hotelier – Rick Steves in Bruges, Belgium

 

Chocolate Lady

It’s so clear: A fundamental part of the joy of travel is to simply be in the presence of people who’ve found their niche. We only live once on this beautiful planet, and we have the personal challenge of doing with our lives what God intended — of finding our niche. I think that when you’re blessed enough to find a livelihood that fits your spirit, it gives you energy — and you, in turn, give the world a positive radiance. In Bruges, Belgium, Madame Dumon makes and sells chocolate. Keeping her little brown world cool in a heat wave, she makes sure everyone who enters gets a rich and creamy sample of their choice.

 

Continue reading Inspired to find your niche – chocolatier, hotelier – Rick Steves in Bruges, Belgium

The Unites States of Pie – yum!

We hold this truth to be self-evident: America loves pie.

Food writer Adrienne Kane celebrates that right. She has gathered those regional pie recipes into a new cookbook, United States of Pie.

Some excerpts from the interview:

Bakewell Pie: “is adapted from the very common English dessert, Bakewell Tart. I found the Bakewell Pie recipe in an 1886 cookbook called The Unrivalled Cook-book and [Housekeeper’s] Guide. It’s a raspberry jam on the bottom, and then an almond meal sponge on top. It’s not too sweet, so

Chocolate Raisin Pie: “It’s sort of like a brownie in a pie, and it has that wonderful combination of chocolate and raisins — think Raisinets,” Kane says. “And it’s obviously from the West Coast, actually from Southern California. It comes from the fact that California is grape country and raisin country, and it’s sort of an adaptation of using what’s around you.”

Sack Pie: “That is an intriguing recipe. You bake the entire pie in a large paper bag, and so it steams the fruit and the fruit becomes very tender. And then at the last moment, you take it out of the bag and finish it off in the oven and just sort of brown the crust and the top … It sort of smells papery in your kitchen for the first half-hour or so, but I will tell you that it doesn’t taste papery at all.”

 

Source: NPR – A Pie For All Regions: Serving Up The American Slice

 

Continue reading The Unites States of Pie – yum!

Searching for the perfect Panna Cotta dessert recipe

I’ve spent a good chunk of the last two weeks surrounded by spreadsheets, crumpled paper packets, cartons of dairy products and dirty ramekins. Josef Centeno has a lot to answer for.

A couple of weeks ago I stopped in at his Bäco Mercat restaurant downtown for a lunch that ended with one of the best panna cottas I’ve ever had. You know what I mean: Delicately sweet, it was like a dream of cream held together by faith and just a little bit of gelatin.

It struck me — how long had it been since I’d had panna cotta? A few years ago you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing it. Then just as suddenly it went away. It makes no sense. A good panna cotta is as good as dessert gets. Vowing I would never again leave my panna cotta cravings to the whims of restaurant fashion, I determined to master the dish.

How hard could that be?

 

…it turns out pretty hard, here’s the full story, and scroll to the last paragraphs for the perfected recipe:

Cracking the code of panna cotta

Continue reading Searching for the perfect Panna Cotta dessert recipe

After surfing treats – from the 50s-60s to today

Every week I read the surf column from local surf legend, Corky Carroll, and this week I was delighted to find him musing about the ideal after-surf food. For young whippersnappers, like me, these stories let you know how long surfers have been catching waves and scarfing afterwards.

Enjoy Corky’s stories and afterwards I’ll share my modern-day favorites.

Whenever the subject turns to hanging out at the Huntington Beach Pier in the ’50s and ’60s, somebody always mentions “strips.” I mentioned them right here not long ago myself.

Strips were these fairly soggy and extremely greasy tortilla pieces that were drowned in some sort of cheese substitute and a kind of catsup with a hint of Tabasco. We all loved them for an after-surfing snack. I am not sure what kind of nutritional value they had, but at that time nobody cared about that stuff.

I was sitting at the Sugar Shack not long ago woofing down a stack of their amazing pancakes and thinking that there just is not a much tastier after-surf breakfast than that, especially with a side of bacon to go along with it.

There have always been those certain little taste treats that stick out in your taste-bud memory banks. I remember the Helms bread truck that came down our street every afternoon at about 4 o’clock. It had the most amazing cream puffs known to man. I would beg my mom for the 12 cents. They also had a good glazed donut for a nickel and chocolate and maple bars for a dime. But the ultimate was the cream puff.

Before the Sugar Shack, there was Poor Richards around the corner on Pacific Coast Highway…

 

Keep readingIf not for surfing, it might be called Scarf City

 

For the best seafood, like fish tacos, burritos, tuna tartare, even a grilled artichoke – check out Bear Flag Fish Company.

Continue reading After surfing treats – from the 50s-60s to today

The official program from opening day of Golden Gate Bridge in 1937

The 1937 guide contains articles on the amazing architectural achievement as well as 130+ advertisements. Here are some of the more interesting ones:

 


Continue reading The official program from opening day of Golden Gate Bridge in 1937

New Guinness Record for largest chocolate sculpture – 18,000 pound Mayan temple

A California dessert and pastry school, located in Irvine, has just broken the Guinness World Record for the World’s Largest Chocolate Sculpture:

To celebrate our 30th anniversary, Qzina Specialty Foods, has broken a Guinness World Record for building the largest chocolate sculpture. The sculpture models an ancient Mayan temple and weighs 18,239 pounds, far surpassing the previous record set in Italy in 2010 by more than 7,500 pounds.

 

 

Qzina chose the Mayan theme because of the crucial role the culture played in the origins of chocolate.  The Mayans were one of the first civilizations to cultivate Cacao trees and discover the true potential of the cocoa bean. Realizing the delicious possibilities of this powerful discovery, the Mayans worshipped the Cacao tree and praised its beans as the food of the Gods.

Qzina’s Corporate Pastry Chef, Francois Mellet, was the lead architect on this massive project and MOF Stephane Treand (Meilleur Ouvrier de France or Best Craftsman in France) lent his artistic touch to the sculpture’s intricate design elements. Mellet, together with his team, spent more than 400 hours constructing this magnificent structure of solid chocolate that was created using an assortment of Qzina’s leading chocolate brands.

 

 

Extensive planning and research set the groundwork to accurately capture the details and intricacies of an authentic Mayan temple down to the exact number of steps and panels representing numbers significant to the Mayan calendar. Built proportionally to the ancient temple’s true size, the solid chocolate pyramid is six feet tall and its base measures 10 feet by 10 feet – exactly one-thirtieth the size. The sculpture’s base alone weighs more than 3,000 pounds.

The chocolate pyramid will be displayed at the Qzina Institute of Chocolate & Pastry, located in Irvine, California, and will be available to view beginning June 4, 2012 when the institute and product showroom is officially open to the public (Monday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. –  5:00 p.m.). Qzina plans to destroy the chocolate sculpture on December 21, 2012 when the Mayan calendar comes to an end. The method for destruction is yet to be determined.

via Qzina News

 

More Photos:
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Jacques Pepin Desserts – light and healthy panache, tatin, and tart

My favorite chef, Jacques Pépin, cooks up four delicious, and mostly healthy desserts:

Episode 103: Jacques helps his daughter Claudine relinquish her fear of making pastry with his easy Tartelettes Aux Fruit Panaches. She goes on to assist her father in the kitchen as he makes his variation of the very traditional French, Tarte Tatin. Jacques then shares his mother’s recipe for Mémé’s Apple Tart using an unusual method to make the pastry. Finally his granddaughter Shorey joins him to make and taste Individual Chocolate Nut Pies.

“You cannot make great food without mixing some love into it.”

My favorite is the Tartalettes Aux Fruit Panaches - Thin disks of dough baked with a topping of lightly sugared apricot and plum wedges until the pastry is crisp and the fruit soft.

Chocolate stamps from 1800s France

Beautiful images of chocolate from French ministry of culture (culture.fr). These are a just a few of thousands to browse through.

Most of them are chocolate stamps that came with the packaging (like baseball cards), and are from a few makers, like Menier and Poulain.

Continue reading Chocolate stamps from 1800s France