My pleasure Clay. Its one of my most cherished chocolate memories...Another is receiving Perugina Baci from my dad every Valentine's Day (it became a family tradition). Any chance you recall the chocolate maker of the Champagne Truffles? I think it was a small shop downtown, I would love to buy them for a friend.
Also, should y'all decide to go to Ghana, I have some contacts in Accra that know the town, places to stay, eat, etc. They don't know much about chocolate though - quite a pity. But that is where I saw my first cacao pod in the wild. A moment I shall never forget. http://www.flickr.com/photos/choconancy/sets/72157604007949360/
Yes, Clay, I'm in Seattle. I should have also said I'm loving Theo Chocolates. If you come to Seattle, don't miss their tour. Organic, fair trade beans roasted and made into chocolate right on site, generous tasting in their little shop and a great local community spirit. They also make the one milk chocolate product I like - their curry coconut bar.
Hi Clay, I received some cool pictures to post. Now that V-day is over, I will work on uploading and also describing some more the creative process at Patchi.
Clay, I saw that you will be giving a talk at Copia on 2/23. Well, I am happy to tell you that we have been invited to be a vendor at the "Death By Chocolate" that starts at 1pm at Copia that day. I am assuming you will be there for the tasting event?! It would be a pleasure to have you meet the team and taste/see the chocolates!
Clay, Thanks for the welcome. First of all I appreciate the quick shipping of your new book and the personalization you added was just right. Also, I really enjoyed the bar of Bonnat you added. It is probably the smoothest chocolate I've eaten. Now I need to find a source.
You commented on pecans and deep fried pickles. I like the pecans and have tried the pickles. One night, late, I even dipped some deep fried pickles in a handy chocolate sauce; it was not as good as you might imagine.
And, as to chocolate shops in the Birmingham, Ala are I'm not very impressed. It is popular for shops to import the large "egg shaped filled" pieces. I find their price high and quality lacking after having survived transit times and days in the counter. Those that sell handmade chocolate include dipped pretzels, apples and other items reminding me of a county fair.
Perhaps we don't have the market here but I'd like to see someone focus on quality, hand-made, truffles and such.
I've been going back and forth between the immersion blender and this really powerful pro blender I have (VitaMix), and decided last night that the pro blender is the hands-down winner. That said, if it's between the "stick" and a normal pitcher blender, the stick wins. But I'd love to hear how you're working your ganache - something I'm working on mastering...
Happy to be here, for the chocolate of course, but also to be a part of your social networking experiment. I've made lots of filled chocolates throughout the years, but my favorites are a burnt caramels, vanilla lavender creams and almond praline mice. I'll track down some photos and post them. I haven't made it to La Maison du Chocolat in Paris, but would love to. The NY store has had to suffice.
Unfortunately, no cameras were aloud in the factory so I have no pix from the experience. The factory itself, may now no longer be in use. When I was there they were already talking about a new facility, leaving their home of at least 75 years there. I forget how long, but it's definitely one of, if not the oldest chocolate factory in Russia. All of the chocolate I tried on the tour (only milk-free vegan) was excellent!