Thanks for the warm welcome. I wasn't expecting activity so soon.
My company is Chocolate Crisis Center. We're headquartered in Denver and distribute in North America through gift shops, spas, etc. and our website. We have 4 kinds of bars, and 6 flavors of panned product, packaged to look like first aid stuff.
I just read your post on Starbucks. Are you a professional writer?
Hi clay, thanks for the welcome!
Actually I only met Mandy recently as I have moved here 8 months ago from Australia.....and am looking at getting as much chocolate training as I can while Im here before I move home and open my own business....
Yes, Jacques really is a great guy! That photo was from a cruise he did in 2006. I brought him a box of chocolates from my now out of business chocolate company (P.S. I Love You Fine Chocolates) and he was gracious enough to critique our work. He spent about an hour with us and gave us some really great ideas for flavoring our truffles.
Thanks so much for the welcome! We stayed on Ile St. Louis, but alas, did not manage to go to Charlotte en l'Isle. Next time! But at Angelina's my husband took vdieo footage of me pouring the hot chocolate into our cups, and taking my first sip. I love watching that moment! :)
Yes, the classes were in the production facility and there were several employees who made sure that everything was ready for us, all day long, every day. They also took care of the cleaning up. I tried to get one of them to come home with me... but she wouldn't do it! (haha) I can't say enough good things about the experience. Michael Klug taught the class. We learned to make ganache. Some we made into truffles, some into bonbons. We each got to create our own flavor too with Michaels help. Mine was a raspberry pistachio bonbon topped with half of a sicilian pistachio. We also learned to pipe to make the mice that they sell. The only molds they ever use are for easter chocolate, so we learned how to mold the chocolate bunnies. We also dipped some fruit and made some spiced nuts, covered in chocolate. Everything was done in dark chocolate and we were able to sample many different varieties. Best of all - everything we made was boxed up for us and we brought it all home!
They are offering the same class this summer (5 times). Michael may add a more advanced class in the future. Everything was top notch. Breakfast and dinner were provided. The staff was wonderful. I would recommend it to anyone.
Please let me know if you have any other questions. I have never blogged anything before, but if you want to show me how - I would be happy to share the experience with everyone!
I learned to make chocolate from Roberto in his workshop in Agliana near Pistoia.
He is the man with the long white beard. And by the way, he is the founder of the whole phenomenon what is called nowadays the chocolate valley. Briefly, he went to Zurich in the 50's to work the same way as an Italian in Switzerland as actually Italians make Albanians work for them. In the 60's he returned to his homeland and opening a small workshop, used what he learned in Switzerland, where he became a master chocolatier. Then, more and more neighbouring families (to note: Slittis, and even the Vestri family who are a bit more distant being located in Arezzo) discovered that there is something to do with chocolate-they had a lot of experience of roasting coffee and making pastries as these are really integral part of each and every village's life in the valley of the Arno. Roberto is a true master. For fifty years now, every single day he enters the workshop, tastes the chocolate and exalts: "che bueno"! Without passion, this really could not work.
He makes a lot of very creative pralines using chocolate from Felchlin, Laederach, Lindt, and so on (he mixes the different suppliers). There not the chocolate but rather the filling/ganache/syrup is the essence.
But he has a dedication for bean to bar making too. He buys beans from Claudio (and for other single origin bars, from other farms in Venezuela and Bolivia) and transforms it to chocolate (80%) without adding vanilla or cocoa butter and of course without lecithine. First he roasts the beans to his taste. Then he winnows the beans with a hairdryer and breaks them to nibs. Then he uses a ball mill/refiner. In one single machine in roughly a day, milling, refining, and a bit of aeration is done. The next step is adding back nibs, tempering and molding and it is finished.
Claudio's interpretation of his own beans is a bit different as he cannot deny himself being a coffee producer. He or Bettina, to me, slightly overroast the beans that will have a fantastic coffee and nut and earthy flavour. So I am really fond of his chocolate too (both the 100 and the 75 and 70), but to me Roberto's interpretation is better.
The third interpretation of Claudio's beans comes from a Hungarian artisan producer, rozsavolgyi.com in a 72% form. It is different because there is not even the slightest amount of conching just long and repeated milling of the paste down to producing a really smooth mouthfeel. Interestingly, there tropical fruits come out from under the coffee aromas.
I have not tasted Pralus's but I suppose it would be different from any of the upper as neither of the upper three implies conching, vanilla and lecithine.
Flattered that you responded to my post. The picture was taken and the summit of the Col Du Galibier which is maybe the largest climb in the Tour de France. I survived this peddle myself by finding the remaines of discarded performance inhancing drugs (and chocolate) on the side of the road. I am still very interested to know what you recommend for a sommelier guided chocororgasm experience in Las Vegas and one in San Fran.
I wasn't at the Copia event but I'm an employee of Mindy for Jade Chocolates. I love the Dragon's Breath as well, the smoky flavor just hits you. I'm actually an aspiring chocolatier and it helps a lot working with Mindy. I learn so much from her.
Thanks for the welcome. The chocolate for my bday is going to be some Amedei and Michel Cluizel. I've only just discovered that my enjoyment of quality chocolate has a whole other world. When my daughter went to Italy recently, I found out by a search that came up with Amedei. Although she couldn't make it to the actual shop, I'm glad I can still obtain some from elsewhere.
I would very much have liked to have tried the artisan chocolate, as well, but I cannot seem to figure out how to get your message - I'll keep looking, maybe I'll stumble upon it somewhere on My Page.
recently saw your @Google conference and really enjoyed it, also, I discovered that you have visited my country.
Next time you come to Venezuela, you are invited to my baking school. (where we also teach some chocolate confections)! And I will give yu tips of other areas of the country where cacao growers are located.
Thanks for the warm welcome, Clay. Unfortunately I no longer live in London, but I still visit. My favorite is La Maison du Chocolat in Piccadilly, near The Ritz, which is a very welcome addition to this city. Close by, Prestat is always worth a visit just for the gorgeous, theatrical decor. L'Artisan du Chocolat, and The Chocolate Society are also not to be missed. There are many others - the chocolate scene is so much better now than it was ten years ago - but for variety, choice and luxury, Fortnum & Mason (almost opposite La Maison du Chocolat, conveniently), gets better every time I visit.