‘one (final version) (#117)’
courtesy of ‘j / f / photos’
Tomorrow night, you’ve an option to get very relaxed and happy, when a Yoga for Foodies event comes to Zola.
David Romanelli, who co-founded Yoga + Chocolate, will lead a one-hour flowing yoga class, to stretch your consciousness and your tummy for the three-course dinner that will follow. The menu is chock full of fresh, local, seasonal food, such as an oyster salad, dandelion greens, and strawberry and rhubarb gratin.
His plan is to make you aware of what you’re eating, where it comes from, and how it makes you feel. Which likely will be mmm, mmm good.
Steve DeVries and Biagio Abbatiello prepare to talk chocolate
Chocolate. Most people think they love it. But is it really chocolate they love — or sugar?
That’s a question chocolate maker Steve DeVries might pose. Most chocolate is made industrially and is full of sugar. The normal ratio is two parts sugar to one part cocoa. This sweetness can obscure the delicate and complex flavors of the bean itself.
DeVries found this out firsthand years ago after he bought some cacao beans at a plantation in Mexico. With almost no direction, he brought them home, roasted them until they smelled like brownies, and ground them himself. What DeVries experienced was delicious, “a complexity of flavor I’d never tasted in chocolate before,” he said. “It was like crushing grapes and getting a fine burgundy.” The reason, he discovered, was that chocolate had been overindustrialized.
Now head of Denver-based DeVries Chocolate, he is a bean-to-bar chocolate maker. While most makers buy chocolate and form it into bars with various flavorings, he starts from scratch with the beans themselves.
Last night, DeVries explained the process of making chocolate at the National Geographic Live! event Chocolate: From Bean to Bar on April 14. In addition, Biagio Abbatiello of Biagio Fine Chocolate near Dupont Circle led a tasting of artisanal chocolates from around the world. The pair also sat down with me beforehand to answer extra questions, one of which was, “How is DC as a chocolate town?”
‘Chef Alain’s Perfect Chocolate Souffle’
courtesy of ‘CathyLovesDC’
Nestled away in a gorgeous residential neighborhood, a delightfully rustic French restaurant has been catering to nearby residents for the past 25 years. We were greeted with a handshake and said our farewells with the typical kiss on each cheek. Presenting us with perfectly typed out recipes and instructions, Alain was quick to jump right into the good part: eating. He orchestrated our kitchen experience like no chef has done before, alternating a little cooking with a lot of eating.
We started off making his Grand Marnier Soufflé. The presentation of the huge Grand Marnier bottle was enough to make me want to “Ooo” and “Ahh,” but then I asked if I could taste the bucket of pastry cream hanging around on the table, and oh boy, I could have stolen that whole container and taken it for myself and been set for the afternoon – or the week, really, because he said that’s how long it could last for. But there was work to be done, and as it turns out, many, many more pastries and delicious things to be eaten.
Before we made our first soufflé, we paused to drink our perfect French coffee. And while our soufflé was rising in the oven, we were treated to hot pain au chocolat straight from the kitchen of the French patisserie, Lenôtre. Crusty, brown, warm and with the perfectly crunchy essence of butter, the pain au chocolat would be just one, of the many, reasons to return to La Ferme. I can even respect Chef Alain for not attempting to make his own pain au chocolat or croissants, because really, why mess with something so perfect? Continue reading
Bars, beans and pods
It’s time for another item on the DC Omnivore 100 list of the top one hundred foods every good omnivore should try at least once in their lives.
Finding that the Omnivore 100 contained a chocolate I’d not met was a cause for celebration. After all, most any chocolate is good, right?
A quick search revealed that Criollo is a prized bean said by some to make the very best chocolate. It differs from its cousins Forastero, the most common bean from which the majority of the world’s chocolate is made, and Trinitario, a hybrid of the two.
Criollo is described as being aromatic, delicate, slightly astringent, slightly bitter, complex, noble, and comparable to the Arabica coffee bean. It’s also rare, making up approximately 5 percent of all cocoa beans grown, because the trees on which it’s grown have delicate constitutions themselves.
It sounded like something well worth trying — the crème de la crème of chocolate, perhaps — but tracking it down was the first order of business.
Originally uploaded by eszter
The Fairfax, VA Chocolate Lovers Festival is this weekend, Feb. 7-8 in the Old Town part of the City of Fairfax in our fine Commonwealth of Virginia. It has been going on since 1992, is held the first full weekend in February and looks to be quite a big affair. From the festival’s web site:
Among the events planned each year are the Taste of Chocolate, featuring chocolate vendors selling their wares; the Chocolate Challenge, an arts extravaganza where the medium is chocolate; the Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast featuring chocolate chip pancakes; historic re-enactments; children’s activities; a craft show at Fire Station 3 sponsored by the Auxiliary to the Fairfax Volunteer Fire Department; open houses at historic buildings; and much more.
So who’s going? I know it’s all the way across the river for those of you in MD and DC, but it’s a celebration of nature’s most excellent resource. How can you not go?
Pocky Flavors by Pocky-Love-Club
Growing up my best friend Kano was half Japanese, and one of the best parts of going over to her house besides playing NES, eating homemade sushi and getting to watch rated R movies, was an endless supply of Pocky. After dinner her mom would hand us our own personal box and we’d go off and watch “The Crying Game” or “Blue Steel”. Really appropriate for 10 year olds. I think I was scarred for life. Moving on. Continue reading
When did it suddenly become autumn? Leaves need raking, boots need polishing, and I’m craving hot chocolate. Granted, our recent cold snap has given way to positively spring-like temperatures, but that’s typical DC fall for you… it isn’t going to stop me indulging in my favorite seasonal drink.
ACKC is a dangerous little shop and cafe at 14th & Q NW that could cause chocoholics to go into palpitations. Lacking a serious sweet tooth (more like a deer with a salt lick), I can enter without too much concern about breaking the bank on artisan chocolates, though bars with almonds and sea salt sure are tempting. And then again, now through February’s end, I do go crazy for hot chocolate. I don’t know why, maybe it’s when the weather turns dreary, the melancholy of the impending chill, but there’s something innately comforting about the magical liquid.
My favorite at ACKC is their European-style “Audrey Hepburn” – utterly decadent, thick and rich, meant to be sipped and savored over an hour – solo or easily coating a buttery croissant, if you want to go crazy dunking a pastry (and you know you do). Continue reading
With the wine bar trend in full escalation (Proof, Veritas, Vinoteca, Cork, Enology, etc.), it appears we may now be heading into a dessert bar phase. While artisan chocolate cafes like ACKC and bakery empires like Cakelove provide the basics, Co Co. Sala pushes the sweet stuff into high art. If only it weren’t so high octave… it’s an intimate, sexy space but it isn’t exactly conducive to whispering sweet nothings. Upon entering, I spied a white feather boa draped behind a gaggle of celebrating women at the bar. As their decibel level threatened my mellow mood, I wondered, “does chocolate bar = screeching estrogen?”
But restaurants can’t completely control their clientele. If you worship at the altar of cacao, Co Co. Sala deserves a taste. Just be prepared for a bit of a scene. And after knocking back a “Disia” – their lychee rose cocktail that tastes like Aphrodite’s elixir – I was mellow again and ready to give an entire chocolate dinner a try.