Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Chocolate Mystery Chest Deepens

Okay, here is a story. Either it's a total hoax (ala the sixth foot in Vancouver) or a genius marketing ploy. 

Have you ever played the game "What would you take if you were stranded on a desert island and could take only ONE thing"? What if someone is stranded and their only thing has washed away?

What if New Zealand had a different April Fools Day?

Chocolate Pirate's Booty! Ahoy, someone call the people in product development.

Make a note to call Daniel at Cadbury and tell him that he should never say never because as the PR folks would say, "It just works".

  • Low cost > high return (flea market trunk+ trip to beach+product=international newspaper story)
  • Follows consumers fascination with foot on beach. Expecting dead body....find CHOCOLATE. Hip, hip, horray!
  • Free chocolate with slightly edgy risk (expired date) When quotes appear that the product is still DELICIOUS after being waterlogged and expired, plus other glowing testemonies= priceless.
Chocolate companies, fill your chests! 

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Vanilla Ice Cream

My family takes our ice cream very seriously. While in high school my father worked at a shop called Van Dyke's in Ridgewood, New Jersey. As children we learned all about how Van Dyke's made ice cream and I never tired of stories about behind the scenes at an cream store. I was fascinated with dry ice. 

We always stopped for ice cream and grew intimately acquainted with watching pewter scoops meet frozen, flavored cream from the other side of a ice cream case.

When we'd visit southern CA we pined for Balboa Bars. They are a vanilla ice cream brick, on a wooden stick, dipped in chocolate and then rolled in roasted peanuts. I think you could get fancy with other ingredients, jimmies and such but we stayed pretty close to the original.  Cold Stone Creamery has got nothing on them.

Everyone had their signature flavor. My sister Molly loved chocolate chip mint, always. Kate, somewhat older and wiser, was into exotics like peanut butter and chocolate or coffee. I liked vanilla. I think as a kid it was something that I could fully count on. Early on I was wild: I chose flavors like bubblegum and rocky road. But to my dismay I would find that the soft pieces of chiclets or marshmallow had taken on a strange gummy texture, ruining the whole experience. Inclusions were dangerous. Vanilla (French, if available, was okay) on a cake cone was my thing. 

This 4th of July was festive with guests and visitors. I spruced up vanilla ice cream with a home made chocolate sauce and a few almonds. Alan's right again: it's still a classic.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Greek Yogurt with Honey

I realize that I promised more about vanilla ice cream, petite fours and See's Candy but I tasted something at the show which has occupied my mind since. Fage Yogurt. Total (full cream) with honey. It's velvety, rich with heavy cream and pleasingly sweet. It reminds me of a perfectly produced, thick, creme fraiche.

When I was in Turkey, we had yogurt for almost every meal. It was made into sauces for lamb dishes, blended into fruit drinks and served with nuts and honey at breakfast. When I came home I was disappointed to find that the stateside yogurts never matched what I experienced in Turkey. But slowly, over the past five years or so, the category of yogurt has really taken off.

I still can't find Falim gum anywhere. My Istanbul Intergum visit will be another post.

Well, Antonios Maridakis, the VP of sales and marketing at Fage USA tells me that Fage is now local to New York. They have a big, beautiful new facility in Johnstown, New York. They purchase their milk locally and produce in the Greek style. Meaning that the whey is separated after being heated, making the yogurt thicker and suitable for cooking too.

Yes, Alan Richman is correct. Greek yogurt with honey is a great treat. And now it's local too. Madzhik!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Confections at the Fancy Food Show

Well, here I go. My CANDYMONIUM blog has been discussed and considered for years but I am just now getting around to it. Frankly I never knew where to begin but yesterday after reviewing the latest and greatest at the Fancy Food Show, I finally realized my genesis.  I will discuss, review and contemplate not only my found Fancy Food Show confections but I will muse, with your help, about candy, chocolate, confections, and anything made of sugary goodness. Oh, and sweets  too.

So, what's there at the show? I started in the media room and read the latest press kits from Dagoba Organic, Scharfen Berger Chocolate, and Bissinger's, and some newcomers too. Then, I headed off, starting with the booths downstairs because I had to order pre-made Gingerbread houses from Philip at Monaco Baking. I am working on a very special holiday project, for a very special client and Philip and I go back a long way. We worked together when I was the new product architect for Fannie May Candies. At that time Fannie May was the largest candy retailer in North America and Philip helped me develop seasonal cookies and gingerbread novelties for their stores and catalogs. Next up was another appointment with a book publisher to discuss my latest book project and then off to Madeline Chocolates to say hi to Jorge et al in their booth.

Is Greek yogurt with honey as perfect and magical as Alan Richman claims in this month's GQ Magazine? In the article titled, My Sweet Life he also extolls: See's Candy, Petite Fours and plain vanilla ice cream (more on those later). The photography of various sweets in different stages, by Mitchell Feinberg is amazing and what I really wanted the Charlie and the Chocolate movie remake to make me feel like.