Friday, October 2, 2015

CHOCOLATES+CARAMELS: Premium Selections-Chewy Choices

Hard to eat just one...

New Trends in Chocolates and Caramels-Single Origin, Sustainable Sourcing, Chunky Fruits + Nuts, Exotic Pairings- Spicy Peppers/Aromatic Herbs/Sea Salts, What's Popular With Consumers, and Retro-Style Treats  

Part One

French flair in couture fashion-oui, oui-includes this completely made of chocolate-frock...courtesy of the Salon Mondial Du Chocolat et De Cacao Fancy Foods Show 2015
Tastes and food preferences vary around planet earth but one delectable offering-chocolate ---is practically universally beloved.

At the Fancy Food Show 2015 and other events recently attended -we noticed the aforementioned trends for that most desired sweet...and other gourmand finishes for close cousin, caramels.

Some Highlights:

entire tower of Thierry Atlan of Sugar Plumm-a NYC based bistro-macaron-chocolatier.

Zoë's Chocolate Company is clearly a three generation owned, Pennsylvania based full fledged chocolate PARADISE-crafting richly tasty single flavored Mediterranean inspired selections, mouth watering bars, and a delectable caramel centered collection-with exotic flavors enlightening milk and dark cacao-PLUS overall holiday themed fabulousness.
Available coast to coast.

...only wish this was a trick or treat option Petro's Pumpkin dark chocolate+chewy sea salt caramel

grown up s'mores...

beautifully boxed-good for wedding/party favors...pictured dark, bittersweet and milk chocolates---encasing- Fleur de Sel Caramel, Pinot Noir Caramel, Dark Chewy Sea Salt Caramel, Milk Chewy Sea Salt Caramel

wonderfully dense...with sea salt balanced by chewy sweet caramel...
one of six flavors
Chunks of fruit and nuts are majorly present...offering texture as well as taste in the Bar Collection.
love-bittersweet chocolate filled with semisweet crispy crushed crepes and generously covered with darkly roasted hazelnuts.

texture+taste Raw Bar-extra dark intense chocolate topped with a sprinkling of roasted cocoa nabs straight from the heart of the cacao tree

flowers are bringing up all over foods as seasonings...the Blossom Bar is delish bittersweet chocolate adorned with totally edible organic dried and crystallized pansies...sweet-crunchy sugar crystals with velvety smooth chocolate

-Zoë's Chocolate Bars are substantial -easily broken up for sharing

from Asher's....old fashioned treats, deeply dark chocolate and milk chocolate enhancing classic pretzels, marshmallows, graham crackers, crispy rice cereal, nuts and Nonpareils - that begged for sampling! Family owned+operated since 1892

Dagoba=Sanskrit for Temple

Superberry -rich dark chocolate with bits of blueberries, cranberries, raspberries and açai
DAGOBA Organic chocolate-uses Rainforest Alliance Certified Cacao-entirely ! Lucky us-we saw them 2x---in the tradeshow floor and at an Editor Showcase.
Lemonberry Zest dark chocolate, lemon essence, blueberries, crystallized ginger 68% cacao... and Orange dark chocolate, orange essence + bits of organic orange-  59%cacao

From Dagoba-the rich chocolate bars...ranging from bittersweet, semi sweet to fruit and nut flavors...37%-87% cacao content.
Dagoba Organic Chocolate XOCOLATL-rich dark chocolate, chiles and nibs-74% cacao inspired by the Aztecs...spicy but not overwhelmingly so...
Eco Bonus Points: Sustainably sourced exhibit!!!! Now part of the Hershey's chocolate family. All chocolates are certified her, USDA organic

SCHARFFEN BERGER CHOCOLATE was another we saw 2x company. YAY...pairs well with 3 bar choices with that distinctive packaging. 
We had two opportunities to taste their debut new flavor, 72% Cacao Dark Chocolate with Raspberries and Sea Salted Almonds...a delectable fruit nut combo that uses 100% certified Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms. In 3 ounce+1 ounce bar.
easy to break off sections...

Scharffen Berger 72% smooth intense Dark Chocolate with tangy Sea Salted chopped Pistachios-crunchy bits and mouth melting chocolate=nice
Also available in 3 ounce+one ounce bars...Cacao Milk Chocolate and Toasted Coconut+Macadamia and Milk Chocolate with Sea Salted Almonds---a Hershey's company---now-and a unique beans to bar company that separates beans by region/country-cleaned + roasted in small batches. Like the best coffee beans too.

Rich deep chocolate with zesty orange...

AMIRA is maybe- a tad under the radar -but this NYSE publicly listed company is acclaimed for it exotic Basmati rices has organic chocolates.
Mrs. Weinstein's Toffee has fans past (like Julia Child) and present-like us! Part of the Sweet Shop USA company...(like Price's-pictured below)....made in Texas 9 flavors of squares

Price's Fine Chocolates Famous Brags Milk Chocolate Pecans

Anette's Chocolates from Napa Valley-a sibling owned entity....has many admirers of this ingredient inventive treat containing actual crispy organic white and yellow tortilla chips, roasted pumpkin seeds, chili de arbol- and natural lime- with a splash of tequila in a brittle---we were looking around for a Corona to pair with it.
Hand crafted and cooked in small batches -all selections have a bit of kick...and would make a nice topping on ice cream as well as straight out of the bag, eating.
Our sample went fast. No wonder it was a  2011 SOFI Gold Winner-  Outstanding Snack Food. Also available---Triple Nut Kentucky Bourbon Brittle, Chardonnay Brittle, Micro Brew Beer Brittle, and Micro Brew Fiery Beer Brittle. Fantastic! The company also makes thoroughly indulgent truffles,  chocolate bars (Tart Cherry Cabernet Truffle Bar-is one)...and bottled Dessert Toppings-Chocolate Wine and Liqueur Sauces that contain 4.5% alcohol for insta=glam ice cream-or use as a dip for cookies. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015


A celebration-in more ways than one. Birthday dinners-at least three on the night we went...including the celebrators at the large corner tables in the 2 public dining areas (excellent for a groups of 8+) are the upstairs/downstairs private rooms of this 3 floor establishment. BONUS-the private dining areas equipped with large screen HDMI tvs +WiFi-great tasty spots to host gatherings-or join in on- watching NFL games...aka---a delicious way to keep tabs on the Fantasy Football teams of you and yours.
 33 East 60th Street, NYC

Growing up in an era when eating take-out Chinese food at a friend's house (that had three sets of dishes -one for milk, one for meat, one for Chinese food-just like the joke)...or at 'Cantonese' style in-house locales-with pairings from Column As and took awhile for us to experience the wonderful diversity of authentic Chinese cuisines...

AND-it took until this week to find the ideal combinations of delicious Chinese food-Beijing style- from mouth watering selections-from a sophisticated but not overwhelming menu (soups, salads, satays, lettuce wraps, spring rolls, noodles+dumplings. entrées and sides), a posh locale on a Manhattan midtown side street, upscale decor and professional service-paced well...that came together at the established since 2005 Phillipe by Philippe Chow in NYC.

No wonder this approachable luxurious restaurant was full on a Tuesday night---filled with suit and tie attired captains of the industry office workers in close convos, jeans and tee clad kids with their parents, and very noticeable- many trendy casually-properly dressed hip couples...and musician/actor/athlete types....including imo.- regular diners sipping bottled water only, winding down their day=meaning glued to their smartphones.

where we sat- Skylight Room-formal dining service-crisp white linens, solid china, professional service that knew when to clear dishes at just the right time...(i.e. not hurried). Can be used for a party too.

Runway Room -tables of 2-4 and larger corner tables for groups...

Chicken Satay-with signature peanut sauce
AMAZING!!! Some Highlights:
we started with the just right citrus-y plum & lime juice vinaigrette spinach salad-fresh greens - and properly dressed...our table mate, a Jams veteran- was surprised that  a Chinese restaurant would "get this so right!" $12
healthy eaters-are easily accommodated-there is an entire section on the menu with Steamed Options including these crunchy fresh steamed vegetables that we inhaled...and gluten free selections too...with sauce on the side options. No wonder there are neighborhood regulars. $12
glorious balance of flavors-and a signature entree dish Green Prawns marinated in spinach with vegetables (carrots, water chestnuts, red peppers)-and a little green chili for flavor not too spicy at all $32.  Other diners partake of the carved table side Peking Duck served with pancakes (for ⅔ diners $75).
Bonus points here-the amount of sauce/seasoning was perfectly in proportion with the main ingredients...this is tougher to get than one might think. Clear-made fresh. They should have a cookbook.
Crispy and light -a substantial entrée of Golden Sea Scallops---fried but delectably so---lightly floured&sautéed, salt and pepper, scallions with sprinkle of dried garlic. 

rice is in this 'old-school' server (LOVE!!!!), thick linens, classic white china, sold glassware and holloware cutlery...and chopsticks-REAL dining out
Dreamy-the Maine Lobster lightly floured, flash fried, ginger, scallions, &black pepper (MP)
Mr. Cheng hand-pulled Noodles (with pork or veal sauce)-we could see kids with narrow meal ideas... loving this...$18

there is a dedicated Pastry Chef Kostas Paterakis---mouth watering American style choices (Red Velvet Cake, Warm Apple Crumb)...beautifully served

for quiet conversation-the front -first floor lounge has intimate seating, barely audible music in the background- and of course...the complete menu....and the legendary Philippe Chow your beckoning
a complete wine list---specialty signature cocktails such as the Lychee Martini ($19) with Absolute Vodka, lychee juice, coconut cream, lime juice, Citronage...premium and ultra premium wines, champagnes and beers...including well chosen,  by the glass/bottle selections ($11-$40). We aimed for a bight, fruity, well balanced-good acids and length-mineral finish =Riesling, S.A. Prom, Mosel, Germany ($12/glass) and a Chardonnay, Carr, Sonoma Valley, California ($14/glass)


Take Out  & Catering Menu---this being NYC---delivery is of course available but we saw what seemed to be 'regulars' who live in the neighborhood....stop by...on their way home from work. (Convenient!)

Chef Tasting Menu-$85/pp

HOURS: Monday-Saturday=Lunch 12PM-3:30PM, Light Fare=4PM-6PM, Dinner: 6PM-11:30PM

(some pictures-Philippe Chow)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Jams + Fruits: Exotic Flavors+New Pairings

Fancy Foods Show/NYC

Fruits in all forms-are the savory compliments to a wide category of foods...most notably when paired with cheeses, as a dessert topping or as an unexpected ingredient in a flavorable sauce.
Specialty Foods Award nominees include a bunch of exotically flavored jams...many spicy-and tropical fruit flavors.

Notably-less-the additives....even the  sweet part of the iconic peanut butter and jelly duo-has gotten more sophisticated...and more natural-meaning no corn syrup sweetness, funky preservatives, or other oddly pronounced, eyebrow arching 'stuff.'

Some Highlights:

Wild Strawberries  in syrup from Fabbri Fragola a beautiful jar -eye candy for the kitchen pantry!  Typically a dessert topping...our French side used to have 2-3 of these as an after-meal treat-on its own...with added liquor, of course!

Coconut is an 'it' ingredient---and HEY BOO = "East meets West" Srikaya jam - is delicious on toast, waffles, and with creamy cheeses (pairings galore, actually) -inspired by the proprietor's Southeastern Asian heritage. Inside-premium coconut milk, cane sugar and egg yolk - the primary ingredients

Bonne Maman Preserves are the first upscale jams we remember seeing in NYC grocery are the spreads for cheeses (+charcuterie+prosciutto)-in 2 flavors- Purple Fig Spread and Black Cherry Spread. 

Obsessed! Can Bech "Just For Cheese" signature pairings are made of 100% natural ingredients...five delicious flavors of fruits, nuts and spices---that are specifically conjured up for hard, soft, blue, soft-ripened, and washed rind selections. YAY. Takes out the guess work! Great packaging too.

what else-preserved figs of Empordà...goes well with soft-ripened cheeses (sheep's milk cheese=dessert) or as a layer in a gourmet sandwich of vanilla ice cream between 2 ginger snaps IMO.

great gift too--- with Golden Apple caramelized with tender pistachios from Turkey+Sri Lanka cinnamon-for hard paste cheeses, Raspberries with rose petal+Szechuan pepper for pairing w/ fresh+soft cheeses, Black Figs w/ Australian macadamia nuts+Jamaican allspice-w/ blue cheeses, Peaches & Apricots with Goji berries+Guatemalan cardamon -pairs with soft ripened cheeses, and Black Grapes with Majorcan almonds for pairing with soft paste and washed rind cheeses. 
Other Fancy Food Show 2015 Posts: