Happy (day after) National Chocolate Day! I’ve been getting plenty of intriguing new chocolate to keep me occupied – perhaps it’s a good thing I have a baby to prevent me from eating it all at once!
I was recently contacted by Bar & Bean, a new online shop for small-batch craft chocolate from around the world. Bar & Bean is dedicated to educating people about the qualities and nuances of craft chocolate, and they helpfully include tasting notes for the bars on their site, as well as detailed information about the chocolate makers.
I got the chance to meet Jasdeep, the creator of Bar & Bean, who is passionate about introducing people to the world of craft chocolate. He’s brought an impressive roster of chocolate makers onto Bar & Bean, many of whom I haven’t heard of or had the opportunity to try yet. Jas recognized that many people are either unaware of all the craft chocolate out there, or intimidated by the plethora of choices. By organizing his site with cocoa percentage and flavor profile searches, and adding tasting notes, he’s hoping to demystify the process. Jas has also developed some detailed personal notes on how to taste chocolate, which he shares in his tasting classes in San Francisco; check the Bar & Bean website for details.
As a introduction to Bar & Bean, I received a baker’s set consisting of five bars from Poco Dolce, Ritual, Escazu, and Dick Taylor. An early Halloween haul, indeed!
Things have been a little on overdrive around here. A baby that can crawl and stand, lots of recipe testing, and the holidays peeping around the corner.
The nice thing about being a new mom, of course, is that people are infinitely sympathetic and kind. “Oh, you must be so busy! It’s ok if you’re late to the party!” “Oh, don’t worry if you forgot to bring the thing! You must have so much on your mind these days!” “You must be totally sleep-deprived – don’t worry about looking tired!” (Wait, what was that again? I look like crap?)
But I’m trying, gosh darn it. I don’t want to use a baby as an excuse to let everything fall by the wayside in a flaming, forgotten ball of fail. It’s just that when you have a baby, and things don’t go well, events tend to snowball much more dramatically.
When most people talk about becoming a pastry chef, it’s usually French pâtisserie they are referring to: puff pastry, buttercream, profiteroles, chocolate ganache. Can you imagine making crème brûlée or pâte sucrée by any other method than the French way? And yet, it’s a French pastry chef who is trying reinvent the classics of French pâtisserie. In July I was invited by Valrhona to attend a special conference on “La Gourmandise Raisonnée”, that promised a modern perspective on making pastries less of a guilty pleasure and more of a measured indulgence.
The San Francisco Cooking School – a new opportunity to learn from some of the city’s best culinary talents. All photos in this post courtesy of SFCS.
When I get asked about going to pastry school, I have a shortlist of schools I usually guide people towards. Therefore, I was excited when I heard that the recently opened SF Cooking School is starting its own professional pastry program, which will be closely intertwined with San Francisco’s thriving food scene. I got the opportunity to speak with Nicole Plue, the Director of Pastry Arts and the instructor for the professional pastry program, about her vision for the school.
Ok! Recipe post, finally. I’ve been trying to get this up for a while! A TCHO chocolate-dipped ice cream cone last weekend gave me the final push to get these photos processed and up. I recently got a box of some of TCHO’s latest offerings, including their milk chocolate baking discs and Mokaccino chocolate bar. I’ve loved TCHO’s dark chocolates for a long time (Fruity is my favorite) and I’ve been after them to come up with their own milk chocolate.
For those of you waiting for a recipe post, don’t worry – I have one coming up on Monday!
There’s no lack of fantastic restaurants and bakeries in San Francisco, but Baker + Banker stands out as a fantastic restaurant and bakery. Run by husband and wife team Jeff Banker and Lori Baker, Jeff handles the savory side while Lori oversees the pastry. Although I’d enjoyed a fabulous meal at the restaurant a couple years back, the bakery was closed so I didn’t get a chance to sample the baked goods. (The bakery opens in the morning and closes at 5, shortly before the restaurant side opens for dinner service.) I finally got the chance a few weeks ago to stop by and try some of their updates on classic American bakery treats. Below, some of my favorites: