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May 30, 2007

Chocolate and... Bacon?

Chocolate goes so well with so many things and there really seems to be no end to the interesting and surprising combinations of flavors that people come up with. Sometimes, though, a combination comes along that just leaves you wondering if it's really a good idea. A couple of years back Kevin (of Kevin's Tech Ramblings) decided to experiment with the combination of chocolate and bacon and created Chocolate Covered Bacon. I've been wondering ever since if there wasn't something to the idea. Sweet stuff like syrup goes great with bacon, so why not chocolate? Interested I was, but I never had the nerve to give it a shot.

Well today an email landed in my inbox that had me checking the date to make absolutely sure that it wasn't April Fools Day (it wasn't). It seems that the esteemed Vosges Haut-Chocolat has come up with a new bar featuring - you guessed it - bacon. The new Mo's Bacon Bar features smoked bacon, smoked salt and deep milk chocolate. That is a daring combination, but coming from Vosges, who are quite good at coming up with very tasty products, I have to believe that no matter how daring it sounds it's probably some excellent stuff. It may have a bit of a limited audience, though. Some people might have trouble wrapping their head around the concept. I'm certainly game to give it a try. And it gives me an excuse to order that hot chocolate I keep forgetting to order.

May 29, 2007

A Wealth of Chocolate

Friday, in a fit of despair over my missing chocolate, I headed down to Jungle Jim's for the first Chocolate Safari of the year (which is to be the subject of a separate post) and came home with some interesting new treats to fill the hole in my chocolate supply. I was still feeling pretty good Friday night so I proceeded to tear into some the remaining boxes (over 50 boxes to tear through - *groan*) that had yet to be explored in the post-move environment and, shock of shocks, there was still no sign of the missing chocolate. I didn't leave it in the apartment when I left. I didn't leave it in the car either - I had the seats down and there was no place for it to hide. That left one possible hiding place and it was the one I feared the most: The Garage. When I wasn't supposed to be lifting boxes (I probably shouldn't still, but rarely do exactly what I should) I had placed a number of the final boxes to leave the apartment in the garage. With temperatures that had been up into the high eighties in the time since placing them there I had little hope for the survival of my chocolate. Of course it was in the first box I opened. And, strangely enough, there was no sign of melting or leakage at all. I rushed the chocolate into the kitchen and carefully popped open a piece of Domori. There was no bloom! No melting or deformation either! The chocolate had survived! I don't know if all the chocolate fared as well as the Domori did, but so far it looks like the chocolate in the garage (which seems to be relatively cool compared to the outside temperature) fared better than the chocolate I brought back from Cinci (there were minor casualties on the car ride home). I've gotta say, that was a pleasant surprise.

Bag full of happy!

Sometimes life gives you lemons. And sometimes (not often mind you) life gives you a bag of chocolate.

May 17, 2007

New Home & New Chocolate

I've managed to unload a few boxes and have cut the tape on a bunch more and found chocolate! Not my stash of the best I had, but still a good array of bars. So, tonight I opened my first new chocolate bar in my new condo. The bar of the night was a Jacques Torres Milk Chocolate Brulée bar. Very tasty bar. Smooth and creamy with crunchy little caramel bits running through it. I'm really not giving this one a lot of thought. It's a good chocolate for snacking and as such gets a good solid 8.25 out of 10.

Somewhere in all of the boxes that are scattered through the condo are a ton more chocolate and I'm talking good stuff. I'm starting to get into more of the boxes and I'm hoping I'll find it this weekend. There's also a chance I'll head for Jungle Jim's and grab some new chocolate so hopefully I'll be posting some more.

While I'm actually posting I had a really tasty sounding recipe hit my inbox recently and figured I would share. Epicurious has a recipe for a Bittersweet Chocolate Irish Whiskey Cake! This would have been a good recipe for Saint Patrick's Day, but it might be a nice first recipe for the new kitchen.

May 14, 2007

Chocolate Frustrations + Mini-Review

This lull has gone on too long. I’ve got a mess of things demanding my attention, but I can’t keep ignoring the blog like I’ve been doing. But I don’t have a whole lot to post about right now. Most of my chocolate is lost somewhere in the multitude of boxes scattered around the condo and as I’ve been ordered a number of times to try and stay off my feet and to not do any moving of boxes or unpacking. And there is stuff in there I’m dying to try and it’s driving me nuts knowing it’s somewhere in there and I just can’t have it. I really hope it’s not out in the garage. I think I would have seen the spreading chocolate puddle if it were, but until I get my hands on it I’ll keep worrying.

On to happier subjects. Well, maybe not so happy. I said a while back that the Pirate Pearls were back. Well, I think I may well have lied. Sure I saw a few hundred pounds of them at the store recently, but I haven’t seen a single one at any other store anywhere else. And to make things worse M&Ms are running a Shrek The Third promotion now and the M&Ms Pirate’s site hasn’t been updated for the new movie either. Things are looking kinda bleak especially since M&Ms have a promotion going on with Dreamworks now instead of Disney (oooh, Disney can't be happy). So things aren’t looking too hopeful for a return of white chocolate M&M’s in the form of Pirate Pearls. Hopefully they’ll launch them as a normal product this summer like they did the dark chocolate last year, but until they do it looks like it’s back to being a lost cause.

Next is definitely a happier subject. I’ve been slowly tearing apart a Vosges Haut-Chocolat Goji Bar which has goji berries and pink salt in dark milk chocolate. I’ve been eating it even slower than I usually eat a bar because I can’t tell whether chocolate is making my semi-mystery ailment worse or not. But I’ve been eating it bit by bit and I gotta say, it’s good stuff. The goji berries are nice and tasty and the salt is a nice contrasting flavor. I’d like it a little less salty than it seemed to be, but it’s still a really tasty bar. While I’m not really doing a full review I’m still gonna give it it’s score – an 8.25 – just because I deserves some praise.

On Mondays at Whole Foods they have a thing where they give out samples of all sorts of stuff and it’s good fun to just browse through the store (pun very much intended) trying different things. Well, the Monday prior to Valentine’s Day they did chocolate and lots of it. That was a nice night. And they even brought out the special limited edition Chocolove Chilies and Cherries in Dark Chocolate bar for the occasion. I had been looking for it since it was announced and was happy to get to try it (the cherries weren’t too sweet and the chilies weren’t too hot – nice bar) and asked for a bar to take with so I could do a proper review. They reached down behind the table and fished out a bar and I went happily on my way. The next night I pulled the bar out to review and discovered that they had handed me a Cherries and Almonds in Dark Chocolate. It’s a nice bar, but I was really pretty disappointed. I went back to the store and there were none to be found. And it was that way for over a month. Finally the bar reappeared! Only now I think it’s gone from being a limited edition to being a regular offering. On their website they show it with the standard Chocolove seal and not the Limited Edition mark and no longer mention the fact that it was a limited edition Whole Foods only affair. So if you weren’t able to get it in the Valentine’s window take a look around and you might get lucky (and I know that Chocosphere has it now). I know they have a lot of them at Whole Foods these days.

That’s all I’ve got in me for tonight. I’ll try to start posting a bit more even if I can’t be eating a lot of chocolate right now (I promise!). Maybe I’ll bake something. I know where my baking chocolate is so I can at least make something tasty.


May 3, 2007

Fake Chocolate?

Well, I'm back. I'm moved out and somewhat moved in. Somewhere in all the mess of moving I managed to end up with a medical issue that I think I now have under control. The medical issue seemed to be made worse by consumption of chocolate so I've been avoiding it for a couple of weeks, but now I'm back in the saddle again and the chocolate life may resume.

First order of business: FDA Proposed Changes to Chocolate
I've been kind of distant from chocolate and haven't spoken up on the subject and feel like I've really been shirking my duties because of it. It's been all over the internet and on the network news and in the papers and you can't avoid it. I'm talking about the scary attempt to re-define just what chocolate actually is from a legal standpoint. The main thrust is the ability to swap out the good and wonderful cocoa butter for vegetable fat (think Crisco) and still be able to legally call the product chocolate. All because vegetable oil is super-cheap compared to cocoa butter.

The long and short of it is this: they want the right to legally pass off an inferior product as chocolate.

You can guess my feelings on this whole mess. My one consolation is that as long as they don't get bought out by one of the monsters of the chocolate and candy world we should still be able to get our quality real chocolate from those companies that are dedicated to the art of chocolate.

If you aren't up to speed on the subject or want to know how to make your voice on the subject heard by the powers that be, you should head over to Candy Blog and check out Cybele's coverage of the subject. She's all over it and it would be silly of me to try and repost all of the content and repeat what she's already said so well so I'm just going to point you toward everything she has on the subject. She's leading the charge and bless her for doing so.

And Boo! on the FDA for even considering this stupidity.

FDA on Candy Blog