Patric Chocolate Limited Edition Double-Vanilla Orange Sherbet Chocolate Bar

There’s something ridiculously indulgent about having a full bar with no perforations or implicit ideas about how you should parcel it out. Patric’s emblazoned signature implies one rule- eat it. And you should, because it’s the older, more sophisticated brother of a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, with deeper, oiled nuances and natural caramel and butterscotch notes to make the unctuousness off the charts like a fruit off the tree from another planet. And yes, it’s milk chocolate- and not just milk chocolate, milk chocolate with whole milk powder for that dreamsicle dream. Sue me, that’s my favorite. It has a deep bone-like snap and satisfying thickness with a fresh aftertaste that reminds me, to the letter, of a coffee I had in St. Louis at Kaldi’s Coffee, a Mexican coatepec cold brew that really manages to evoke the sherbert that the name implies.DSC_2572 Continue reading “Patric Chocolate Limited Edition Double-Vanilla Orange Sherbet Chocolate Bar”

Poco Dolce Bittersweet Chocolate Nut Tiles

It’s holiday season! And in my case, chocolate season. Winter is a great excuse for me to order and receive fancy truffles, caramels, and toffee under the guise of ‘gift sampling,’ that rarely makes it to the actual ‘gift-giving’ phase. This might also explain why, for the past five years, I’ve given members of my family used books, socks, and framed chocolate wrappers. I’m considering getting an L.L.M. so I can milk the impoverished student gig a few years more. Sorry, Mom. Enjoy your gently used sweater. DSC_6440 Continue reading “Poco Dolce Bittersweet Chocolate Nut Tiles”

Euforia Triple Delight Cake

Happy Halloween! Am I dressing up? I’m not dressing up. I’m continuing in the grand tradition of exempting myself from holidays and social interaction by drinking cider, eating candy, and watching Twin Peaks in bed. Compare this to last year’s Bobcat Goldthwait/pumpkin crêpe and 2011’s Kubrick/leftover slices of cake marathon and you’ve got yourself a trend.DSC_6156

Continue reading “Euforia Triple Delight Cake”

Birthdays and Bees

Like a slow blink, time has just slipped through my fingers. I still can’t believe that it’s the one-year anniversary of my grandmother’s death, that I turned 23 two days ago, that I’m six thousand miles replaced, rerooted, sprouting slowly. It doesn’t consume like it used to, all these changes, but it still feels like a firm punch in the gut sometimes. A soundless reverberation. I’m celebrating in small ways- a reconciliation dinner with Miss Love, another with K, and many beautiful meals with The Bedfellow keep me constantly curious and sociable.

But amidst the stress, there’s been celebration aplenty. I thought I’d keep the verbiage to a rare minimum and share some photos of the birthday pie and macarons I enjoyed- all gluten-free. The macarons were a gift from Miss Love, and the pie was a scheme of my own design, plotted over for months, and finally conceived over a few days in between notes and briefs. It was beautiful- Mi-Del gingersnap and Vermont Creamery maple butter crust, with a filling of Cortland apples, Vermont Creamery vanilla creme fraiche, Nielsen-Massey bourbon vanilla, Korintje cinnamon, Niman Ranch bacon, and Yancey’s maple-bacon cheddar cheese. Absolutely insane.
Modernist apple core sculptures.
The seasonal Laduree was pink peppercorn-flavored- and grey! Easily the strangest pastry I’ve had in a while- pure, undiluted pepper-infused cookie with no sugar to speak of. The sole deviation from a savory route came from the buttercream, offering a creamy, thick texture similar to frosting, but also very spicy. 

I baked the pie deep-dish style, in the base of my new Le Creuset.

The inaugural slice, augmented with a scoop of creme fraiche.

More macarons! Salted caramel, vanilla, raspberry, peppercorn, pistachio, and more.

The Bedfellow and I shared this sweet dark chocolate and honeycomb bee bar, a gift from Savannah Bee at the Fancy Food Show, on the first chilly, smoky day of autumn. I hope you enjoyed this miniature birthday tour!

Liddabit Sweets Dorie Bar

I just joined a new fitness club in town. It’s pretty tony, with warm towel service, and private showers and changing rooms, and not a single meathead or college student in sight. That’s the most impressive part- or at least it was, until I saw the cat video. In addition to individual televisions, the gym also has a communal one with a slightly creepy, Big Brother-esque set of rotating messages like, ‘stretch before you exercise!’ ‘drink lots of water!’, and the ever-popular, ‘Planet Fitness is the enemy! Down with Planet Fitness! Glory to Supreme New York Sports Club!’ Sometimes they show videos or tips for women’s fitness, but today was something special. They showed a music video that looked more akin to something you’d see on Buzzfeed’s list of 28 Cat-Related Exercise Videos You Must See In Your Twenties- a fake advertisement slash music video for cat exercises, like the ab cruncher and paw extensions. It was mesmerizing, and absolutely nobody but me made any notice of it.

In other news, this is a candy bar I tried a while ago, back before the gluten sensitivity bullshit kicked in. This stuck out like a delicious sore thumb at the Fancy Food Show, with one of the more fascinating flavor combinations and packages that I’d seen. Liddabit Sweets has been around for a while, famous for their gourmet takes on classic candy bars. The Dorie, their newest bar, features a dark cocoa cookie base with a salted caramel ganache topping and chunks of sauteed dried apricots with black pepper, surrounded by milk chocolate. As I expected, the flavors were extremely ambitious, but not nearly as cohesive as I wanted them to be. The black pepper and interestingly, cardamom, are front and present, followed by jammy dried apricots and chocolate last. The cookies, salt, and caramel get lost in the more strong, spicy flavors.

I can’t say this is entirely surprising, but like the popcorn with brown butter, the overarching need to balance the richer, desserty flavors of chocolate and caramel with citrus and fruit elements leads to an imbalance in favor of the more acidic ingredients. It tastes like a piece of fruit cake, with the softness of the cookie acting as somewhat of a pastry. It’s much messier than I expected, which makes it difficult to share. Not bad, but lacking the distinction the ingredients lead me to believe it would have to set it apart from your average Cadbury Fruit and Nut bar.

2013 Summer Fancy Food Show, Day 2

Now come peanuts, and popcorn, and plenty of treats from day two of the Summer Fancy Food Show 2013! There were scorpions.

We started out the day on the second floor, bright and early, with this staring us in the face.

Fifty Shades of Kale? Not for me, although kale does strike me as a rather punish-y vegetable.

The lower floor was definitely more energetic and buzzing, though that could have also been due to sofi excitement and the groove of the show once everyone had their affairs in order. We started the day with pizza…

And more killer packaging. What?! I’m a sucker for handwritten labels and pretty jars.

It was definitely more slanted toward items I gravitate toward- shredded pork tacos from Frontera were a welcome respite amidst the sea of chocolate and ice cream.

Not that I’m complaining about ice cream, of course. After months of Facebook friendery with the good folks at High Road, we finally met in person and I was promptly given approximately twelve hundred bites of their perfect ice cream. The creme caramel with roasted rhubarb, apples, and mint was my favorite.

Sukhi’s chana masala wrap wasn’t new to us, but the smile was too cute to resist.
Dave’s Insanity introduced us to our new favorite friends, Fluffy and Mittens the scorpions!
We also ogled the $1,000 pasta sauce, with heirloom tomatoes, white truffles, and gold leaf, which could only taste good over butchered human flesh for such a price.

It was definitely a more upbeat day, and we brought home some incredible treats to share on the site.

This bee bar was one of the prettiest samples, from the Savannah Bee Company. It has caramelized honeycomb inside of it, but it’s almost too cute to eat. The ladies are illin’ for my bee bar, also. It is gorgeous.

And nothing made the Bedfellow happier than her bacon Bloody Mary, courtesy of McClure’s Pickles.

Despite being at the show from 9 to 5, staying to the bitter end when all the lights shut off, we ached our way over to Sir37, an event space close to the show for Food Fête. We were so full and tired from the day that we couldn’t sample as much as we’d have liked, but the party was a lot of fun and the product selection rocked.
Why, you ask?

Because HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, NEW FLAVORS OF FRUIT 2 O. Please understand that if the human body is 70% water, I’m 80% Fruit 2 O. Fruit 2 O now comes in watermelon and lemon cucumber, and I now come in ‘obsession’ flavor. It tastes like sweat and lust.

I am forever gauche.

Such a good show. Stay tuned for the Top 15 tomorrow!

Dove Mint Chocolate Promises

I’m totally a celebrity. My UPS guy thinks I’m a legend, to the point where I have to give him my autograph every time I get a package. Geez, stalker much? My sexuality is mystical, my Levis are unwashed so the denim stays pure, or at least until the washing machine in my unit is fixed. And I get plenty of exciting packages in the mail, circulars notwithstanding. Recently, Dove sent me a package that wouldn’t have been out of place at the Oscars, or at the very least, the Outstanding Performance in Telemundo Series Awards. Candles! Lip balm! Doublemint! Hand soap! It’s perfect for both the mint lover and the obsessive compulsive cleaner in you. And thankfully, I have both. 

They’ve recently introduced Dove Mint Chocolate Promises, now 150% more reliable than the promises your parents made you when you were seven. I mean, did you really get that pony? Now, you can self-soothe and self-medicate with chocolate. I’m not typically a fan of chocolate and mint, but in this case, the mint is swirled with white chocolate so the herbaceous flavor is far less intense. The Promises have a very mild flavor, heavy on the cocoa butter and vanilla, almost like butter mints coated in chocolate. The dark chocolate is not very nuanced as far as dark chocolates go, but I liked how it blended with the mint without being too overpowering. They’re tasty as a snack and have a cool melt on the tongue.  
If you ignore the vaguely ominous messages printed on the inside of the label that seems almost tailored to speak to your frail self-esteem – “Chocolate won’t let you down!” they’re the perfect snack. I’m surprised that I haven’t tried these before, as they make a nice treat to put out for guests with coffee after dinner. Or serve to the paparazzi outside my house. I mean, that frat guy with the camera who stares at my back door is definitely with the press. Right?
So, just remember, the only certainty in life is smooth chocolate. And, y’know, the sweet, tasty embrace of death.Delicious mint chocolates! Suck it, Thomas Jefferson! Dove for life! Also, don’t they make soap?  
This post has been brought to you by My New Bathroom Ceiling (patent pending) courtesy of George, the handyman who didn’t bat an eye at my creepy paintings. Thanks, George.

Snap Infusion Mel Naturally Designed Supercandy

My life is so busy. I am such a busy, important person. What does someone with such a jam-packed, watch-checking life need? A new candy! A new candy because I am perpetually bored with life, filled to the brim with existential ennui as my special, paper-free Generation Next smartphone-delivered horoscope would have me believe. Right now, or at least, until the next popular Buzzfeed article, that candy is Snap Infusions, a naturally designed supercandy that appeals to my busy and important life because it is also moving too quickly to do silly things like type out the word “caramel,” choosing instead to label it “MEL.” We’ll come back to that. The package is covered in more holographic noise than your favorite sweat-stained Pokemon card, and even features jizz-like blobs on the surface. It’s also filled to the brim with keywords like “energize,” “protect,” and “balance,” making it the confectionary equivalent of NeuroPassion.

MEL is small and turd-like in appearance, and tastes like poorly made Milk Duds. The chocolate coating is scuffed and has a crumbly, cheap flavor to it. The caramel would be inoffensive if each penny-sized piece wasn’t packed with more additives than a Flintstones vitamin. I can almost smell the freshly ground B12. The pleasantly salty nugget quickly transforms into a bitter-flavored chew, making each bite like eating a protein bar, torturous piece by piece.

Snap Infusions employs four catchy IM-style titles for its products that range from asininely short to all-caps words bordering on Inception. Reading the descriptions for GUM made me wonder if GUM was an automatic replacement for another, non-GenNext sanctioned activity. “I use GUM day and night. GUM gives me the energy I need. I like to take GUM the old-fashioned way, with a rolled-up BFranxxx and AmEx card. Amirite? Amirite? GUM, ladies and gentlemen!” It sounds like an old Robin Williams sketch.

Speaking of things you take up the nose, ounce for ounce, MEL may cost more than cocaine in a glam-packed neighborhood. $2 for ten candies puts them at 20 cents apiece, a steep price for boiled sugar and the hopes and dreams of innocent athletes. Then again, Snap Infusion’s website would argue that it’s a small price to pay for not “ending up a dried-out shell of [your] former self.” As someone who may or may not have modeled for the “before” side of weight-loss scamvertisements, I take liberty in quoting from the late Roget Ebert (Houston, I sense a trend) in saying that someday, I may be thin, but Snap Infusions will forever be known for creating this awful candy.

Zotter Mitzi Blue “Chinese” Taste Machine

Happy day after Thanksgiving, everyone! Unfortunately, my attempts to expose the French to the joys and wonders of Jones turkey-flavored, or Jones Pepto Bismal-flavored, or Jones Hackneyed Press Release-flavored novelty soda beverages have been rebuffed by the grand old customs agents of the European Union. Apparently those sodas, novelty lip gloss, and my fitted camel-colored wool pea coat constitute a threat to French security, which is why it has taken them three weeks to arrive in the mail. Until then, it’s lightweight cardigans and bleary-eyed chocolate reviews for everyone! Yay!

Despite all the trouble I’ve been having with the post office, one package did make its way through the mangled hands of justice and into my dim apartment. The Austrian masterminds at Zotter chocolate found me in France and passed off two of their latest Mitzi Blue bars, new on the market for the holiday season. And what better way to emphasize the Christmas spirit, the love of Kwanzaa, and the balls-out awesome of Hanukkah with the “Chinese” Taste Machine?

Yes, you heard correctly, non-sequitar aficionados, gingerbread and fruitcake are out, “Chinese” Taste Machine is in, quotation marks not included. Now you can have the loving caress of gojiberries and bird’s eye chilipowder alongside your buckeyes. Chinese Taste Machine, presented in the classic circular Mitzi Blue form, contains white and dark soy-infused chocolate with the aforementioned spices and berries, plus some powdered star anise for good measure. A punk zimtsterne, if you will. Out of the package, it’s another stunning Zotter bar, this time in a swirled pattern. It broke during transit, but even its original shape looked a little cumbersome to share amongst friends.

Flavor-wise, the Chinese Taste Machine is difficult to love. Very, very, very difficult. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that its jarring set of flavors make it impossible to consider the high quality of the ingredients in the bar. The smooth white and dark chocolate are smothered by the musty flavors of the soy powder, at best, reminiscent of a soy Chai latte in solidified form. At worst, it recalls eating an old chocolate stashed in a winter coat, five years after putting it there. Even the strongest spices, cinnamon, star anise, and nutmeg, don’t hold a candle to the strange powdery flavors from the soy.

For all of the flack that gojiberries get, namely, from me, they enhanced the flavors in this bar quite a lot, imparting a sweet, slightly sour flavor to the chocolate and somewhat masking the soy. They are covered with a slight dusting of bird’s eye chili powder, which emphasizes the tang of the dried fruit and gives it a little heat. Still, it never quite meshes with the chocolate and ends up feeling like another candy entirely. It’s a shame as the concept is whimsical and clever, but the execution falls flat.

Cafe-Tasse Cafe et Speculoos Bar

Last week at SIAL, I caught eye of this small chocolate company, sandwiched between a large-scale red bean distributor and an enthusiastic basmati-hawking salesman. And yes, the first thing that caught my eye was their speculoos bar. That, and their impressive selection of tea-infused chocolate bars. Flavored Belgian chocolate is new, for me, at least. Perusing the selection at SIAL, it seemed that the most common varieties were various slabs of milk, dark, and white, with some almond-chunked versions thrown in for fun. I was curious to see how Cafe-Tasse would treat not only the time-honored beauty of speculoos, but how they would infuse that with coffee in an attempt to recreate one of the world’s most satisfying sensations, outside of applying flavored body cream to a partner or leaping into a kiddy pool full of puppies: dipping cookies into coffee.

Yes, naysayers be damned, this is yet another example of how awesome speculoos is as an ingredient. This particular bar is a thick, molded bar filled with a speculoos and coffee cookie dough. I didn’t know that this was cookie dough in advance, but in retrospect, the textures are one and the same: very gritty, sweet, and creamy, with chunks of crispy cookie. The pieces are a little large, but are very satisfying with the milk chocolate, a fantastic example of Belgian expertise. It has a creamy, cool melt and coffee-infused flavor. Very well-executed, and most importantly, well-balanced with the filling so that neither overwhelmed the other. (Note: This was accidentally packaged in the “Lait and Speculoos” wrapper but a label on the back indicated that it was “Cafe et Speculoos”. Either that, or this is an elaborately-enduced placebo effect that I’m not yet aware of.)

Most of the speculoos-themed desserts have fared well in my book, but this is my favorite so far due to its ingenious usage of combinations in a single chocolate bar. It reminds me of a better-executed version of the Trader Joe’s speculoos bar. The construction of this leads me to believe that Cafe-Tasse may also be the distributor for their plain version as well, though personally, I find this to have a better, less greasy texture.