Archive for MEdia

New Amano and Gail Ambrosius Truffles

When New York was still buried under snow, two chocolatiers sent me some new truffles to try. They were phenomenal, but I got sidetracked with independent projects, writing about strange chocolates and wildlife spotting for Travelandleiusure.com (a third piece is on the way) and editing materials for The Guggenheim Museum (the exhibition, stillspotting nyc, runs in Brooklyn till this weekend).

Even though these chocolates aren’t so new anymore and require extra care in the summer, they’re still worth seeking.

Amano

Amano truffles
Photo courtesy of Amano because I couldn’t wait to eat them all!

For all that I’ve raved about Amano, you’d think I’m running a kickback scheme, but I assure you, my words are genuine. For these truffles, Art Pollard partnered with executive chef Rebecca Millican to create flavors that complemented his chocolate. Most are subtle, and even if you’re a fan of intense flavorings, you can’t argue that the truffles are technically flawless. The paper-thin shells snap cleanly, giving way to a smooth filling. Although they’re dainty, Amano’s chocolate is so complex that golf ball–sized truffles would be overkill. My favorites were the honey, key lime, and cinnamon pecan, but here’s descriptions of their other flavors as well. From $12 for for 6, plus shipping; amanochocolate.com.

Key Lime-Refreshing, tart filling is paired with Guayas chocolate.

Cinnamon Pecan-Sophisticated yet retro take on pecan pie and snickerdoodles in chocolate form. Crunchy and not too sweet.

Yemeni Sidr Honey-The most expensive honey in the world lends woodsy, smoky notes to Guayas chocolate.

Cardamom and Black Pepper-Single-estate pepper (one of the few that are fully matured prior to harvest) enhances natural hints of bergamot and lavender in Dos Rios chocolate.

White Chocolate Yuzu-Amano’s elusive white chocolate (they sell it to chefs, but otherwise it’s only available in their truffles, though things may change once they expand their equipment) covers a Japanese-citrus ganache

Palet d’Ors (literally “disk of gold”)-A true test of the chocolate (and chocolatier), these four varieties are made with Ocumare, Guayas, Dos Rios, or Madagascar chocolate. Since are no additional flavors are added, the chocolate itself shines though.

Gail Ambrosius

Gail Ambrosius praline box
Praline chocolates in 80% cacao-leaf box (made from cacao leaves and bean shells)

Inspired by her trip to Paris, Ambrosius updated classic French pralines (candied, ground nuts) with a jolt of spices, salt, and housemade nut butter. $17 for 10, plus shipping; gailambrosius.com.

hazelnut and pistachio bon bons
Hazelnut and pistachio praline truffles

Pistachio Bomb-An explosion of flavors and textures. A crunchy pistachio is tucked inside an almost-liquid center of buttery white-chocolate ganache with lime zest, chile verde salt, and cayenne pepper.

Pecan-Applewood smoked salt and roasted nuts conjure bacon sans the weird porkiness. I enjoyed the Kit Kat–like texture, but unfortunately I have a low salt tolerance and was overwhelmed. This is geared toward fans of salted sweets.

Hazelnut-Like a love child of Nutella and Pioroline cookies, but a technical glitch (at least in my eyes) stopped it from reaching greatness. The bottom layer of chocolate was much thicker than the other sides; it disrupted the texture and overshadowed the filling.

Orange Almond-Crushed, candied almonds with marzipan and orange peel evoke Christmas fruitcake (in a good way). I just couldn’t get over the nubby texture.

I thought the pistachio was easily the best of the bunch and recommend customizing a box with that flavor ONLY (just add a note to the comments section of your order). It’s um, the bomb.

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Stuck on Spatulas

Whoa. My primer on the 10 most common spatulas (and how to choose the best one for the job) is the lead story on Gourmet.com! My favorite is the home baker’s best friend.

spatula

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A Dozen Eggs

marshmallow Peep in an egg
Photo: Ryan (Metrix X)

Too bad there’s not 12 days of Easter, because if you ate a different type of egg each day, it would take 12 days to explore Gourmet‘s list of unconventional eggs. There’s iguana eggs, dove eggs (I don’t just mean the chocolate kind), and biggest, baddest egg of all. Do you dare try all of them?

My favorite way to use chicken eggs is in flourless chocolate cookies and Valrhona chocolate pavlova.

Speaking of Easter food, I heard through the grapevine that Peeps are very good toasted, because they have an extra layer of crunchy sugar. Why not take it further and make Peep s’mores with bittersweet chocolate? I was going to try them and report back, but I couldn’t justify buying a whole pack of Peeps just to make one s’more. (I don’t eat Peeps otherwise. They’re too sweet.) I’m just putting it out there: if you have too many Peeps, try making some “sandwiches.”

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It’s All About Meme

Beth, a blogger at CookiePie and a soon-to-be author of a dessert cookbook, tagged me for this meme. Since she was kind enough to think of me, I’ll take a break from my regular food posts and disclose some personal details.

What were you doing 10 years ago?

Practicing for my driver’s license exam.

What were you doing 1 year ago?

Gourmet online screen cap

Working at Court TV (now called TruTV) and dreaming of the food world. Lo and behold, I’m now at Gourmet.com, building web pages, updating the news headlines, pitching food products for the weekly newsletter, and (woohoo!) working on an article for April.

Five snacks you enjoy:

  1. Granola and yogurt
  2. Fruit
  3. Chocolate
  4. Peanut butter anything
  5. Anything else that’s sweet

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:

  1. Travel to Dubai, all 50 U.S. states and some other cool places
  2. Donate it to charities that fight hunger, AIDs and global warming
  3. Buy an apartment around Union Square in New York
  4. Treat my family and friends
  5. Go to Per Se or some other fancy restaurant

Five bad habits:

  1. Spending too much time on the Internet
  2. Eating too much chocolate
  3. Slouching
  4. Not getting enough sleep
  5. Being unsure of myself at times

Five things you like doing:

  1. Cooking/making dessert
  2. Socializing online
  3. Yoga
  4. Watching the performing arts
  5. Talking to my mom

Five things you would never wear again:

  1. A neon green parka that I wore for St. Patrick’s Day in high school. “Ouch! You’re hurting my eyes!” people said.
  2. Anything yellow (it’s a little too close to my skin color)
  3. 80′s-style leggings
  4. Ill-fitting shoes
  5. A tube top (I’ve never worn one before and don’t plan on it)

Five favorite toys:

  1. Food processor, because it can make almond macaroons, hummus and chocolate-hazelnut butter
  2. Ipod
  3. PC (no Macs!)
  4. Canon digital Rebel camera
  5. Oven

Now I tag Jessie at Cakespy, Niko at Dessert Buzz, Anita at Dessert First, Anna at Cookie Madness and Yoko at Virtual Frolic to participate!

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Happy Nutella Day

World Nutella Day Today is World Nutella Day, my favorite food holiday of the year! It’s a day to cook with, eat and fantasize about chocolate-hazelnut spread. Try making your own or putting some in babka. Don’t forget to vote for my chocolate-hazelnut butter in Culinate’s Death by Chocolate contest. Everyone who votes can win a free trip for two to Napa’s Chocolate Festival on Feb. 23.

For more Nutella recipes, see the roundups, part one and two.

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Farewell, 2007

Wow, is it 2008 already? Hopefully, we won’t have as many bummers as last year, like Crisco chocolate and poisoned food from China. I could go for more frozen yogurt, but not necessarily Pinkberry, because homemade is best.

For more headlines, check out Chow’s Year in FoodVegansexuals, tainted dog food, greenwashing: the people, events, and trends that shaped our diets. Yup, I wrote three blurbs for them.

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The Green Party

smoked turkey for Thanksgiving

While the rest of America is planning an over-the-top Thanksgiving, I have this nagging worry in the back of my head: “What about all those turkeys that are dying at once? Isn’t that bad for the ecosystem?”

Apparently, I’m not the only one who struggles with social events and green living. A while back, I was forwarded an e-mail from N.Y. Times writer Alexandra Jacobs:

…what do you do if you go to some party and your host serves beretta freshly FedExed in from Italy…on styrofoam plates! Or..or…or…And hey, what if you’re having people over yourself–what are ways to reduce the gigantic clomping carbon footprint of a big barbecue?

Alexandra’s article, “The Green Party,” ran this week. I’m the unnamed source who served meat (uh oh, I let animals die) at a Mardi Gras-themed party. Geez, they made it seem like I had something to hide by leaving off my name!

How do you feel about throwing parties? Do you not worry about paper plates and all that?

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Interview with the “First Lady of Chocolate”

La Maison du Chocolat truffles

Fancy chocolate and sweet-salty pairings owe a lot to pastry chef Alice Medrich. She spots trends years, and sometimes decades, ahead of time. She made these little things called truffles 30 years ago in her Berkeley shop, Cocolat. Then she went on to decadent yet light desserts in her cookbook, Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts. Her new book, Pure Dessert, takes another step forward by going back to the basics. Simple, artisan ingredients like whole grains, raw sugar and herbs are featured.

To celebrate Alice’s new book, I interviewed her for Chow.com. She talked about why her cakes have no frosting and the chef who unknowingly challenged her to make low-fat desserts. Don’t forget to try the whole wheat sablé (French shortbread) recipe.

In the next couple weeks Sometime, check back here for audio outtakes of the interview. I think the Chow.com piece left out some funny stuff. If all goes well, I’ll launch a “Sweet Talk” series with more podcasts.

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Of note

Wow! Su Good Eats has been nominated for best food blog at the Blogger’s Choice Awards AND featured on the front page of Food Candy! If you like what you see, please vote for my blog.

featured on Food Candy

CulinaryCorps Trip
As noted before, I’m visiting New Orleans during the first week of June for a CulinaryCorps trip. It’s like Peace Corps, but for cooks. I’ve heard from visitors that it’s still pretty bad down there; there’s mold-infested houses, and mail can take a week. Some scheduled projects include a farmers market fundraiser, chocolate tasting with at-risk teens (wish me luck, I’ve never done a demo before), a shrimp boat tour and Emeril’s headquarters tour.

Through generous sponsorships, I only have to pay $300 for housing and most meals for the whole week! But future trips from Sept. 14-20 and Nov. 30-Dec. 6 could use more funds. I’d really appreciate it if you could donate any amount. If you were to do only one thing from this post, I’d rather have you donate than vote for this blog!

For more info, check out this CulinaryCorps video and recaps from the inaugural trip.

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On May 14, CulinaryCorps Wants YOU to be the Judge

Picture: Metro Three T-shirts

There’s an old New Orleans saying: “You know it’s Monday when you’re eating red beans and rice.” On Sundays, ham would be served during a large dinner. Those ever frugal New Orleansians would save the bone and throw them in a pot of red beans the next day. After a hard days’ of work doing laundry, another hearty dinner would be ready.

This was just one culinary tradition that I learned after interviewing several New Orleans natives for an AP article on Mardi Gras. Any cuisine that has “BAM!” as its middle name may not seem impressive, but New Orleans food combines French, native American, African, Spanish and Italian influences with native ingredients (alligator, anyone?). Genius!

When I heard about CulinaryCorps, a charity that seeks to rebuild communities through food service, I couldn’t refuse their upcoming trip to NOLA. Through generous sponsorships and people like you (does this sound like a PBS ad?), I’ll head out on June 1-8. But we need more funds! That’s why you are cordially invited to be a guest judge at the…

FIRST ANNUAL RED BEANS AND RICE COMPETITION

TASTEFULLY BROUGHT TO YOU BY: CulinaryCorps and the staff, students and alumni of the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) WITH GENEROUS DONATIONS FROM: DBA New York, OXO, The Hillstone Group, Union Square Hospitality Group, and ICE. IN SUPPORT OF: The CulinaryCorps/ICE June Outreach Trip to New Orleans, LA.

Monday, May 14th, 6pm-8pm at DBA New York (41 First Avenue between 2 and 3 Streets).

$20 per person (tax-deductible). Includes a free beer, a vote in the competition and a chance to win some wicked cool door prizes like my very own macaroons and homemade Nutella, dinner for two at Houston’s and pickled okra.

All donations will go towards the CulinaryCorps/ICE outreach trip to New Orleans from June 1st-8th. Funds will be applied to equipment and supply donations to NOLA project partners, including: bulk coffee and equipment for Emergency Communities (a Lower 9th Ward feeding kitchen); crawfish boil equipment for Edible Schoolyard NOLA; and gardening tools for The Renaissance Project’s newly conceived 9th Ward Community Garden.

For those who cannot attend, CulinaryCorps has set up an online fundraising page through firstgiving.org. Donate today! And thank you!

In other random news, here’s two more articles I wrote (non-food related, sorry):

Tip Sheet: The 10 Worst Things to Say When Facing Arrest
Hmm, do you think if Paris followed this advice, she’d be in jail?

They Write Stuff
Liars, Liars. From Thomas Chatterton to James Frey, authors have achieved fame and fortune by faking it. Check out the list of the most notorious incidents.

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