Monday, March 17, 2008

Interview over at Kitchen Chick

Kitchen Chick a local Ann Arbor foodblogger, and she interviewed me for her blog. We talked about how I got my start in the food business (like carrying 20lb bags of flour on a bicycle), what some of my current favorite chocolate brands are, and more. Please check out the interview and the rest of the blog - Lisa's writing and photography are totally delicious! And, speaking as a foodblogger myself, if you like what you see - please leave her a comment - we bloggers LOVE comments!

Oh, and since her post mentions my Easter chocolates, here's a picture of the finished product. I always have a lot of fun trying out different decorating effects, and this time was no exception!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Tammy's Tastings Newsletter

The Smell of Easter

When I host a chocolate tasting, I take guests through 3 steps - taking a "whiff" (what's the chocolate smell like?), taking a bite (what's the texture like?), and taking a taste (what flavors do they notice?). In nearly every chocolate tasting there will be at least one chocolate that everyone agrees "Smells like Easter!"

And why not? While we certainly associate chocolate with other holidays, if you celebrate Easter, memories of chocolate eggs and easter bunnies were formed long before you ever got a box of chocolate from a sweetheart on Valentine's Day.

Unfortunately, a lot of Easter chocolate isn't particularly good. And some of it is downright bad! But thanks to Tammy's Tastings, you don't need to settle for bad chocolate in order to relive your childhood Easter chocolate memories. Visit my Easter page to place your order today! The Easter collection includes a "turtle" bunny or egg (filled with salty caramel and toasted pecans) and an assortment of four other flavors:

Raspberry - This classic combination of dark chocolate and raspberry is a perennial favorite.
Chai Spice - Milk chocolate harmonizes beautifully with a blend of spices that includes cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and more, while the dark chocolate shell balances the sweetness of the center.
Lemon-Rosemary - White chocolate provides the perfect creamy backdrop to the high notes of citrusy lemon and a hint of earthy, foresty rosemary.
Hazlenut Praline - A dark chocolate shell surrounds this combination of toasted hazelnuts, caramelized sugar, and milk chocolate. Another classic combination, and one that is decadent and delicious!

Orders must be received by Friday, March 14; earlier for shipping to the western US.

Upcoming Event

American Rebels Chocolate Tasting
Coming in April, date TBD. In the 1980's, microbreweries pushed the boundaries of what we knew beer could be. In the 1990's, small coffee roasters began challenging the supremacy of Starbucks. And in the 2000's, chocolate is the new frontier. In this chocolate tasting, we'll have a chance to compare side by side the offerings from a crew of American Rebels - small, one or two person operations who are making bean to bar chocolate and breaking as many rules as they can along the way. Space will be limited - contact me today to pre-pre-register, and you'll be able to provide input on the date and time!

Wishing you good tastes,

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Interview with Heston Blumenthal

Heston is chef at the Fat Duck restaurant in the UK, and one of the best known chefs exploring "food science," aka molecular gastronomy. This article is a fascinating look at this mad scientist of cuisine.

This has to be one of the wackiest bits...

4: And he recently injected his head chef with a dangerously high dose of chilli oil, intravenously, and then slid him into a £5 million MRI scanner to see how the spices reacted with his brain.

No, really.

I made him tell me twice to make sure he wasn't making it all up.

"I used the brain scanner at Nottingham University," he says.

"While he was in there I attached a drip to him that intravenously fed him chilli oil.

"I sneakily switched the dosage when nobody was looking so he was getting double the chilli the doctors deemed safe."

He laughs here.

"I did give myself a syringe as well because I felt guilty.

"But I wanted to see what parts of his brain my spices would affect so I could create the perfect chilli.

"I needed to find out the point where the pain of the chilli died down and the pleasurable endorphins that make us like spicy foods were released.

Mad scientist, indeed! One just hopes he had the head chef's permission!

I've not eaten at the Fat Duck (yet), but I know people who have. And the reports are almost always good. This is not just about a gimmick or an excuse to play with toys - these chefs are serious about food, and using every technique at their disposal to improve not just the flavor, but the entire experience of eating.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Unusual breakfast

If I worked from home everyday, I think I'd have the weirdest eating schedule of anybody. I've already got a pretty weird schedule - breakfast around 7, lunch at 11, snack at 3, dinner at 6:15. Which written down doesn't look weird, I guess, but when I'm strolling into the office kitchen to get lunch at 11 am, people often think I'm a little early. But hey - works for me!

I've been sick with colds and the flu and sinus infections and pneumonia for (literally) weeks and haven't had much of an appetite. Plus, making food I want to eat has been more work than I wanted to do. But yesterday I ended up with a major low blood sugar headache at the end of the day, so I'm trying to be more attentive to that today.

On the way home from dropping my son off at daycare, I got a craving for pasta. I could have held off for lunch, and had a bowl of cereal or something when I got home, but why? At first I was thinking spaghetti with garlic sauteed in olive oil and fresh parmesan. But then I remembered the goat cheese ravioli that have been languishing in the freezer since last summer's trip to Columbus, Ohio and our obligatory stop at Pastaria in North Market. So I put some water on to boil, and pulled out a few of those. One of the reasons they've been languishing is that it's hard to figure out what to put on goat cheese ravioli. I figured I'd just drizzle with olive oil, and then I remembered the bit of fresh rosemary left from recent chocolate experiments. So I heated up the oil with the rosemary and a strip of lemon zest, then drizzled that over my ravioli when it was done.