Thursday, June 17, 2010

alegio chocolates

Alegio Chocolates Special Edition Joan Coukos Chocolates for Valentine's DayIf your motto with chocolate is the debauchery should never end, then you must make a trip to Alegio Chocolates. Alegio Chocolates is a hidden gem in the heart of the Gourmet Ghetto in Kensington, California (that’s near Berkeley University for those not familiar with the geography of the San Francisco East Bay). Designed under the keen eye of proprietors Panos a former film producer, and Robbin, it transforms the small space into a jewel-like box that exhibits the finest chocolates from around the world. Walking into the store always reminds me of the scene in Moscow on the Hudson, where Robin Williams, a Russian defector enters an American grocery store for the first time. In Moscow, he had to stand forever in line for some likely, miserable government, issue coffee – but in America he becomes so completely overwhelmed by an grocery aisle dedicated to serving up a depraved offering of a zillion coffee brands, he collapses.

Claudio Corallo Chocolate BarsMuch like the supermarket scene, Alegio Chocolates serves up a cornucopia of treasure for the chocolate connoisseur. But unlike the random selection at a grocery store, each chocolate that graces an Alegio Chocolate's shelf has been meticulously selected. Both Panos and Robbin are charming and knowledgeable hosts that are happy to take the time to explain the details on how chocolate is made to exactly which Enric Rovira Bombola chocolate to enjoy with your favorite vintage wine. And, if you’re lucky and put on your most winning smile, you might be introduced to the secret drawer where Panos will pull out his latest, extraordinary chocolate find and offer you a tantalizing taste.

In our recent trip, we were able to sample some divine Claudio Corallo, considered some of the best and most complex chocolate in the world. The cacao beans, of this single source, ground breaking chocolate, are grown on a tiny African island of Principe. The beans are then transported to Sao Tome where Corallo has spent 10 years perfecting techniques to convert his them to chocolate that is absolutely unforgettable. We left with two bars that barely made it into our car before being ravenously devoured.

Enric Rovira BombolasAmong the many chocolates you can sample, Alegio also offers an exclusive collection of Joan Coukus truffles. Each of these divine little truffles are intensely flavored, perfectly balanced and hopelessly addictive. My favorites include The Orange and Ginger, The Habanero; Madagascan chocolate with a hint of chili, The Honey; a delicate fusion of Tasmania Honey from Australia and chocolate ganache, The Grapefruit; an award winning combination of tart, fresh grapefruit puree and the lushness of silky caramel and The Cinnamon; because who doesn’t love cinnamon and chocolate? For those who are bold – or maybe just a lush, try The Scotch for something unusual; a Venezuelan chocolate mixed with a smokey, peaty Scotch.

Whether you enjoy a truffle or an exotic chocolate bar, you will be guaranteed to find satisfaction at Alegio Chocolates. Just remember, if you get dizzy, it’s best to sit down and put your head between your knees.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

elsylee galetes artesanals

When our box of Elsylee Galetes showed up at our door, I couldn't help but bursting into one of my favorite songs "C is for Cookie" by the celebrated cookie junkie, Cookie Monster. I admit there is something a bit incongruous about thinking of Cookie Monster together with and these delicate, artisanal cookies. But once you it's easy to turn into Cookie Monster, with his singular quest to ingest as many cookies as he can in an eye-rolling, frenzied manner that the neighbors are still talking about. No matter, it's worth becoming a social outcast for Elsylee's fine, artisan cookies.

These are simply the most amazing cookies. Each cookie is crafted by a masterful hand with all-natural and organic ingredients and in small batches. If you are a cook, you know a cookie really relies on butter for maximum decadence - and Elsylee delivers a rich buttery taste with each sinful bite. Each cookie is politely dainty, perfect for an elegant tea party and allows the well-mannered adult to have more than one cookie without looking piggy. Mind you, these cookies are adult cookies, for adult palates, and not to be shared with children or Muppets under any circumstance.

Elsylee Edinburgh Artisanal Cookie
Each cookie was so divinely wonderful it is hard to choose a favorite but there are so many selections you are bound to have one that hits the precise note for your particular sweet tooth.

The Elsylee Edinburgh was my particulate favorite. A crisp square of shortbread, lightly dusted with powdered sugar with a rich, dark chocolate taste, that with just the right amount of thickness so each bite crumbles in an enjoyable way. After my first bite, I claimed these as my own although I allowed the other tasters to divide up a single cookie for tasting propriety.

The Elsylee Vienna is an almond-cherry shortbread Elsylee Vienna Artisanal Cookiewith a handmade blackberry conserve center with white chocolate artistically drizzled over the top. This cookie combines the slight salty taste in the short bread, the tangy fruit center, crunchy almonds and, last but not least, finishes with a taste of white chocolate. Oh, and if that is not enough for you, the cookie has that sensation of "melting in your mouth" which, as anyone knows, makes the cookie not count in terms of calories.

Another cookie with many of the same characteristics as the Vienna is the Elsylee Paris. This too is almond shortbread, but topped with semi-sweet chocolate and perfectly toasted, roasted almonds. I attempted to claim these for my own as well but almost lost my hand.

Elsylee Los Angeles Artisnal cookieFor the serious chocolate lover, may I cordially suggest the Elsylee Los Angeles which is just like our debauched City of Angels except chocolate: a Dutch chocolate, slightly chewy cookie with both dark and milk chocolate chips, with a dash of espresso (which enhances any chocolate taste) and roasted walnuts and pecans. The only issue with this cookie is that if you are not careful you get that telltale, I-just-ate-a- chocolate-cookie residue around your mouth or, worse, a chocolate covered tooth. We recommend a quick look in the mirror after enjoying one of these, especially if you plan to speak in public or there are paparazzi in the vicinity.

The Elsylee Aspen has your name stamped all over it if you are one of those people who is completely seduced by the combination of chocolate and peanut butter. Peanuty and Elsylee Artisanal Cookie packageschocolatey, this was unanimously voted as the "best chocolate peanut butter cookie ever." You need to take that vote seriously as it is based on a collective 150 years of peanut butter cookie taste testing experience.

Sadly all good things must end, and we ended this gastronomic chocolate cookie orgy with the Elsylee New York. For the sake of brevity this is basically a home-made Oreo. "This is what an Oreo is supposed to taste like" said one enraptured taste-tester. Sorry Nabisco, but it's true.

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

morning glory confections

Morning Glory Confection Chocolate Enrobed BrittleAll photographs ©
Ron Dunlap/Doglight Studios
Fortunately for us, Max Lesser didn't follow another career path as a fine artist. While there is no doubt he would have (and has) provided the world with beautiful prints, photography and painting, I'm selfishly glad that instead he is now devoted to providing us with his small batch, exquisite brittles, at Morning Glory Confections.

Morning Glory Confections chocolate enrobed brittles are divine in every aspect. They combine the the heavenly elements of silky chocolate and crunchy, buttery toffee. They are sometimes savory and sometimes sweet but always exceptional. The brittles are all dipped decadently and sensually in Valrhona chocolate and each flavor boasts a flourish from Max's artistic eye; a sprinkle of salt or perhaps a carefully placed cocoa nib or nut, making each of these treats a mini-masterpiece.

Morning Glory Confection Chocolate Enrobed BrittleThere are six divine flavors and you need to taste them all "for your own goodness sake," as my Chinese mother would say.

Our first bite was of the Fleur de Sel and Peanut. We were rewarded with a brittle that was crunchy, salty and buttery with fresh toasted peanuts.

The next to be devoured was the Chai Tea and Cashew. Here, the all natural ingredients and spices are showcased to perfection. The chai is rich, spicy and exotic the way it is supposed to be - a flavorful blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom and pepper. The spices combined with cashew, priceless.

Morning Glory Confection Chocolate Enrobed BrittleAfter a bite of the Morning Glory Confection called Cocoa Nib, Coffee Bean and Pecan we decided this is the perfect chocolate to start off your morning. There is enough caffeine to attach you to the ceiling, protein (in the pecan) and of course, chocolate clearly providing you with all the essentials for facing your day.

The Indian Curry and Pistachio chocolate enrobed brittle offers another complex, flavored, taste with traditional Indian spices combined with fresh toasted pistachios. We enjoyed this brittle with Bel Paese, a mild, creamy cheese and think this combination would make an elegant and sophisticated after dinner treat and more importantly impress all your guests.

Morning Glory Confection Chocolate Enrobed BrittleMy favorite Morning Glory Confection brittles were the New Mexico Chili and Pumpkin Seed and the Thai Curry and Peanut. Both of these brittles left a taste that wandered and danced on your taste buds long after the brittle was sadly, heartbreakingly gone. The New Mexico Chili and Pumpkin Seed takes you by surprise. It's so spicy it stops you in your tracks with unusual flavors like Mexican oregano woven in. Lemongrass and kaffir lime make the Thai Curry and Peanut chocolate enrobed brittle outstanding. It's delicately infused with chili, coconut and ginger, and you can't help taking bite after bite as you try to unravel the source of your pleasure.

Morning Glory Confection 12 pc Gift Box

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