Taza Chocolate in Somerville Ma.
5 years ago Alex Whitmore and partners Larry Slotnick and Kathleen Fulton (also Alex's wife) started this mesoamerican-style bean-to-bar chocolate factory. And true to their vision, this chocolate is handmade from start to finish. They buy their beans in the DR, Mexico, Belize, and they recently added Bolivia. (note: if you get a chance, try the 87% bolivian choc bar side by side with the 80% DR...then you'll really see what terroir means to the cacao bean.)
Their beans are fermented, which means, like all things fermented, flavor is amped. And then they get roasted (in the fabulous Willi Wonka machine pictured below. don't you want one? I do. and it's RED!) The beans are then stone ground, on mexican stone mills that Alex hand chisels himself (check out the pic below of him holding one.) Impressive.
You may all know this already, but Best of Show at 2011 ACS in Montreal went to Oregon’s Rogue Creamery for Rogue River Blue (www.roguecreamery.com) the 2nd time they’ve taken the blue ribbon home! Second place was shared by Ontario’s Finica Food for their Lindsay Bandaged Cheddar (www.mariposadairy.ca), and perennial winner from Wisconsin, Carr Valley, for Cave Aged Marisa (www.carvalleycheese.com). Third place was Quebec’s Fromagerie du Presbytère for Louis d’Or (www.fromageriedupresbytere.com/. These are all seriously delicious cheeses. It rare to sample Canadian cheeses we, sadly, cannot get here in the US…and to get my hands on limited production cheeses too.
Oh Canada…it’s your turn for national hurdles.
Last night we brought your Stanley Cup back to Boston after a 39 year absence (thank YOU!). Your postal system is shut until further notice, and Vancouver based Hootsuite has ticked off a few PAYING customers (http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/hootsuite-publisher-fail_b10216) with its latest upgrade. Ok. Not a good day.
But, you still have plenty of Canadian goodies right at hand.
While at the Craft Brewers Conference, Lassa and I stumbled into the Pink Boots Society, http://pinkbootssociety.org/, annual meeting. Quite unlike the 5/1 men/women ratio in the rest of the conference, the room was jammed with women in brewing; brewmasters, QA specialists, pub owners, marketers, retailers, distributors, etc. There were seasoned pros and newbies.
Sebbie Buhler of Rogue Ales (and label model on Rogue Chocolate Stout) introduced us as culture founders, and urged all pink booters (ies?) to discover cheese. And afterward, we got the chance to meet many of them.
The Culture Cheese Wrap Contest evolved from Elaine’s experience at the Cheesemonger Contest by Larkin Cheese Distributors in New York. Among many other parts of the event, Elaine thought that the cheese wrapping would be a particularly successful and fun idea for California's Artisan Cheese Festival. We created a two-part competition for both cheese consumers and professionals, giving every cheese-lover the chance to show off their skills in the art of the Cheese Wrap.
The competition proved very fun indeed. Congratulations to the winner of the amateur competition – Mike Lucia from Copain Wines! We hope you enjoy the prizes.
No need to bleat on about quality or style, just keep a case around and Mom and Baby will both perk right up!
“What is that?”
Ok, not the most gracious way to greet my husband who is, uncharacteristically, standing at the stove. But on the burner is a pot the size of a minivan. In his hand is a 12 mile long spoon. The pot is filled to the rim, molten liquid bubbles bursting wetly splatter the counter, and…the floor. The dog, aka “the Mop” for the extent of this kitchen escapade, has gamely taken on floor cleaning duty.
But, when I asked that rude question I did already know it was one of two things; a lifetime supply of dragon fire salsa, or (and here is where my heart started to sink) a vat of chili.
It’s chili. We will be eating chili for quite a while.
(Why is it absolutely necessary to make chili in cafeteria size proportions? I have a theory. I think it’s because this is xtreme cooking, not to simply put food on the table, but to make a statement about the essential manliness of chili.)