March 05, 2008

Chocolate and desserts in New Orleans!

While down in New Orleans, we visited a couple of chocolate places and a nice dessert place:
  • Blue Frog Chocolates: Nice, homey chocolate shop with very friendly folks. They have a wide variety of chocolate products, some made in-house, others are major brands of chocolate bars, etc. This is the place if you want to get cure chocolate frogs or other animal shapes.
  • Prince Michael Chocolate: A cool, small chocolate store where they serve organic chocolates -- truffles and hot chocolates. They have some great truffle flavors and the truffles are mostly made from 70-90% cacao with non-dairy milk. Taste great! They also have a wonderful spicy drinking chocolate.
  • Sucre: This is a dessert place. Very nicely decorated with some nice gelatos/ice creams and desserts.
  • Cafe du Monde: Of course, go have beignets at Cafe du Monde!

February 13, 2008

Chocolate Decadence: At the Ritz-Carlton in DC

So I finally went to the Chocolate Decadence at the Ritz-Carlton in DC (near Foggy Bottom), This time it was a $25 per head event where you can choose any 5 of the ~20 chocolate offerings they had. Only five seemed kind of limiting at first but we barely managed to finish 5 items (and we went for the 6pm seating that basically served as dinner for us). The desserts were arranged on a small bar/buffet with the pastry chef, Jerome Girardot, standing behind and answering questions and explaining the offerings. Some of my favorite ones were the ones with more interesting ingredients like the dessert with carrot puree and ganache, and the chocolate and lavender pastry. The yuzu "ice cream cone" was also pretty good.

January 30, 2008

Best Hot Chocolates in DC

So, the Washingtonian has an article on its web site about the best hot chocolates in DC: It mentions a bunch of places that are worth going to just to try the hot chocolate. I've had the hot chocolate at a couple of the places and they were pretty good. Enumerating the best places to try hot chocolate invariably means that you leave out some that, by all accounts, should be in there: ACKC being one of them but *shrug*

[rant mode]
The problem with most places serving hot chocolate is that they seem to feel that the more cream you put in the better the hot chocolate (i.e. the richer the better) even if that means that the actual taste of the chocolate comes out a poor second. (In some cases, that is certainly meant to be the case -- most mexican and spiced hot chocolates tend not to allow the cocoa taste to shine but then they make up for it through a medley of tastes that complement the cocoa). The other big problem with most restaurant/cafe hot chocolates is the milky concoction that has barely noticeable traces of chocolate in it but is sweet enough to give you a sugar high.

Anyway, enough with the complaining, go try some of the places mentioned in the article.

December 03, 2007

Gotta love those research results: Chocolate, sex and meat

So, there's a book out which suggests that the best way to boost your brain power is to:

  • Have lotsa chocolate
  • Lotsa sex
  • Lotsa cold cuts for breakfast

Wonder if the researchers were all guys?

Here's a link to one of umpteen articles about this:,+sex+and+cold+cuts+can+boost+your+brain/

November 04, 2007

Chocolate and Child Slavery

I'm a proponent of Fair Trade chocolate products and try to buy them over non-Fair Trade ones. I also keep a lookout for news on Fair Trade issues and forced labor involved in chocolate production. However, most of the time, there's nothing new -- just people rehashing the same old items and so it tends to drop off my radar.

But since I haven't posted anything on Fair Trade in a long while, here's a random sampling of Fair Trade news bites:

and some interesting links:

See previous Fair Trade posts and also see my now abandoned attempt to keep track of fair trade cocoa products.

November 01, 2007

Bellagio: Mmm...cakey!

So, I picked up a tin of Bellagio sipping chocolate the other day from Wegman's. I didn't have much hope in it being good -- just wanted to try something different. However, upon opening it up today and indulging myself in a mug of hot chocolate, I was pleasantly surprised.

First, the mix itself is a nice dark chocolatey brown. Secondly, it had an aroma that reminded me of a fresh baked chocolate cake and finally, the the nutritional info said that it was low in fats and high in fiber. Now, while the first two items definitely affect my senses, the third one goes straight for my left brain what with the low fat telling me that there's no sneaky mixing in of milkfats and the high fiber implying a cocoa powder that hasn't had itself processed to perdition and back.

I didn't go with the recipe on the tin -- which instructed you to use 2 rounded tablespoons with 1/3rd cup of whole milk. I used about 2.5 heaping tablespoons with a cup of milk and it turned out rather well. There was a distinct cocoa taste with the flavor shading towards a hot chocolate rather than a hot cocoa, and while it was sweet, it wasn't cloyingly so. In keeping with the "sipping chocolate" aspect of its name, it had a smooth taste to it rather than the textured flavor you get from the hot cocoas. All in all, I enjoyed my cuppa Bellagio.

While Bellagio won't replace my Dagoba hot cocoa as my favorite everyday drink, it does make for a tasty (and healthy) cup of hot chocolate. And somedya I may even try it out as a sipping chocolate according the to recipe on the tin.

October 10, 2007

Choc-o-lait: it really is hot-chocolate on-a-stick

So, the trip to Amsterdam was interesting and fun, and especially so from a hot chocolate perspective. The bad news was that almost everywhere we went, "hot chocolate" turned out to be Chocomel. This is a chocolate-flavored milk sold mainly in th Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. However, it is much better than the chocolate milk you get in the US. It tastes pretty decent when you think of it as chocolate milk. However, when you ask for Hot Chocolate and you get Chocomel, it's somewhat of a disappointment. :-) However, we did manage to stop by this Tea and Coffee store on Herengracht where I asked for hot chocolate and they said it was chocomel, but offered us hot-chocolate-on-a-stick (which they sell but not as a prepared drink). So I bought some hot milk and used the Cho-o-lait in it to produce some tasty hot chocolate. Believe me, after all the Chocomels I had been drinking, this was manna from heaven!