I hope everyone is able to enjoy Valentine’s Day even if plans got a little messed up with the weather. I feel sorry for florists and chocolate shops because they may have lost a lot of business. Luckily, my flower delivery went through and so did my chocolates! I’m a happy girl! I got double chocolates for Valentine’s Day. First, I got a box from Anna Shea Chocolates in Illinois. I always wanted a box of artistically decorated chocolates. These are so lovely with bright colors and glitter. Some of my favorites from this collection included the candied bacon caramel (smooth with nice smoke–who knew I’d like bacon and chocolate?), aged balsamic caramel, cinnamon swirl (just like a cinnamon roll), cherry baby, raspberry blush (I love the taste of raspberry puree and chocolate), and vadelma.
I also got chocolates from FIKA, the Swedish coffee shop in NYC I mentioned in my Dina’s Guide to NYC Chocolate Shops. These truffles were melt-in-your-mouth good. Many were exceptional like the incredibly good goat cheese, macadamia nut, water sea salt caramel and hazelnut gianduja.
I love dark chocolate and one of my favorites is sea salt dark chocolate. In Raleigh, NC, there are two chocolate makers, Escazu Artisan Chocolates in Mordecai on Blount Street and Videri Chocolate Factory on West Davie Street in the Warehouse District. Escazu’s sea salt dark chocolate bar is 65% cocoa; Videri’s, 60%.
I decided to do a taste test involving three other people. We tasted both of these (they blind, me knowing) and it was 50/50 split of which is best. Two tasters thought Videri was too bitter and preferred the flavor of Escazu’s chocolate. (Escazu’s chocolate also has vanilla in it.) Two tasters thought Escazu’s was too salty while the other two thought Videri’s was too salty. Go figure. The taste and texture of both chocolate bars is different. For a taste test yourself, visit both shops. For $5, you can tour Videri’s factory.
Halloween is not a gift-giving holiday, but it can be if you want to give a gift to someone special or to yourself! I found some cool Halloween- and fall-related gift items.
The first is this adorable pumpkin-shaped cookbook of pumpkin recipes I saw at Kinokuniya, a Japanese bookstore in Manhattan. (They even have ones on potatoes, eggs and pasta too.)
If you want something a little more eerie, opt for the chocolate skull at Fika, a Scandinavian coffee shop in Manhattan.
Posted in Chocolate, Cookbook, Holiday
Tagged chocolate, cookbook, Fika, Halloween, Japanese, Kinokuniya, pumpkin, Scandinavian, skull
Pumpkins and apples are the big stars of the season, but pears are a versatile and tasty fall fruit too. Pears remind me of my grandmother because she liked them so much. She would eat them as is, but I’m sure she’d enjoy the recipes on this round-up too!
1. Spiced pear sauce from Magnolia Days
photo used with permission of Magnolia Days
2. Spiced pear crumb bars with dulce de leche from The Craving Chronicles
photo used with permission of The Craving Chronicles
3. Roasted pear vanilla ice cream from Hovkonditorn
photo used with permission of Hovkonditorn
4. Chocolate baked pear pudding from a life…including cake!
photo used with permission of a life…including cake!
5. Pear vanilla upside down cakes from Baking a Moment
photo used with permission of Baking a Moment
Posted in Blog
Tagged a life...including cake!, Baking a Moment, chocolate, crumb bars, dulce de leche, Hovkonditorn, Magnolia Days, pear bars, pear pudding, poached pears, roasted pear, spiced pear, spiced pear sauce, The Craving Chronicles, upside down cake, vanilla ice cream
National Ice Cream Month is nearly over, so I’m featuring spumoni. I have a memory of the best spumoni at Villabate Bakery in Brooklyn (before it became Villabate Alba). Where better to try spumoni than at L&B Spumoni Gardens in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. L&B is a pizzeria that sells spumoni and ices as well. It’s still owned by the same family as the original owner. There are outdoor tables outside, and you can walk up to the window and either order pizza or spumoni/ices. On my visit, I got both. I saw a lot of people with plastic cups of the signature spumoni with its distinctive green, brown and yellow color representing pistachio, chocolate and vanilla. So I got one too while my friend got plain vanilla. While it was a smooth treat, I prefer my spumoni with pink cherry in it. Also, I prefer the lemon ice at L&B to the spumoni.
The second spumoni I sampled was at the recent Giglio Festival in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, from an Uncle Louie G’s stand. It had the same vanilla, chocolate and pistachio in yellow, brown and green. However, it was smoother than L&B and had more flavor. I really enjoyed this one.
Posted in Gelato, Ice Cream, Italian, New York
Tagged Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, cherry, chocolate, Giglio Festival, ice cream, L&B Spumoni Gardens, lemon ice, National Ice Cream Month, pistachio, spumoni, Uncle Louie G's, vanilla, Villabate, Williamsburg