Showing posts with label Chocolate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chocolate. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Taste of the Week. Treat from The Chocolate Shop

Taste of the Week
Treat from The Chocolate Shop

The Chocolate Shop in Cork’s English Market is a treasure trove, packed with good things. And good people there too in Rose and Niall who’ll help you get exactly what you’re looking for.

I was on the lookout for a Taste of the Week. In truth, I could have had closed my eyes, put out a hand and anything I touched would have fitted the bill. But I asked them to fill a little box with some delicious pieces, some by Wilkies Chocolate from Midleton and the others by Skelligs Chocolate from County Kerry. I had my Taste of the Week, on the double!

They opened in 2000. They know their stuff - were very impressive at a recent Chocolate/Whiskey matching event in the River Lee Hotel.  They are independent of any single manufacturer or franchise and therefore free to source only the best quality chocolate from the best artisan chocolatiers throughout the world.

You’ll also find related items, such as Nougat. And they also sell Hadji Bey’s Turkish Delight, a long standing favourite in these parts. Check them out and find your your own taste of the week!

English Market
Cork
021-4254448
Email : info@chocolate.ie

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Bunny from Blarney Chocolate

The Bunny from Blarney Chocolate Pays A Visit
There was a ring at the door. The big white bunny from Blarney Chocolate was outside. And she was carrying a hamper of goodies from their new range. Needless to say, she got a big welcome!
This is her story:

A locally designed Easter range is bouncing into spring with hand crafted and moulded chocolate treats that are mind meltingly wonderful, courtesy of the professional chocolatiers at Blarney Chocolate Factory.  As always the Cork based chocolate company has the perfect chocolate treat for everyone including luxury eggs, a range of smaller eggs and chocolate figures, chocolate truffle boxes and the popular chocolate lollipops and bars. 
For those who are looking for delicious, fun and traditional nod to all things Easter then Blarney Chocolate Factory have a range of medium and large Eggs in Milk or Dark Chocolate which can be decorated and personalised, the only limits being your imagination! For something eggstra special then look no further than the stunning signature Easter product which features a beautiful milk chocolate character of a rabbit and duck in an Egg (€15.95).

A must for Easter egg hunts or perfect for sharing with friends Blarney Chocolate Factory have a number of options ideal for sharing including: six lovely milk chocolate eggs in a chocolate egg box (€12.95), 2 milk chocolate eggs with a bunny lollipop (€5.95), a milk chocolate chicken on a cracked open egg with small praline eggs in a yellow box (€12.95), milk chocolate chick sitting on a milk chocolate egg (€4.95) and last but not least the quirky ‘Croc’ egg in a box with chocolate buttons (€9.95)

The perfect choice for chocolate lovers with a more sophisticated palette are the un-egg-spected flavour range of artisan eggs which include; dark chocolate egg with mint sugar and mint fondant pralines (€12.95), a hazelnut praline egg (€12.95) and the super luxurious large truffle egg which features a half egg of milk or dark chocolate filled with a collection of our pralines, truffles and fondants (€22.95).

Blarney Chocolate Factory is proud of their gifted chocolatiers who lovingly hand crafted each and every piece of chocolate so that their skill and passion can be tasted in every joyful mouthful.
The full Blarney Chocolate Factory Easter range is available at their shop on the square in Blarney Village or online at 
That big white bunny!
About Blarney Chocolate Factory:
Blarney Chocolate Factory opened for business on the first of June 2014. Their charming shop is located in the beautiful square in the centre of Blarney Village and only 100 yards from the entrance to Blarney Castle.  In addition to amazing chocolate products they sell great Coffee, Hot Chocolate and fine Italian Gelato which is also made in Cork.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Koko Chocolate Kinsale

Koko Chocolate Kinsale
Frank's Answer to Recession
So there you are, after the recession and wiped out. Not the time for a knee jerk reaction. Count to ten, maybe. Well Frank Keane’s count to ten took him eight months and his decision took him from shock to choc!

For twenty one years before the recession left him high (low, maybe) and dry, Frank had dealt in collectable ceramics in Kinsale, in the same premises where he now makes Koko chocolates. Things were good but, like many another, he got ambushed when the Tiger’s roar died, going backwards before the final “wipe-out”.

What would he do now? What could he do. He looked to the kitchen. Under his mother’s influence he had always loved the kitchen. But, at fifty, he didn't want to start at the bottom with someone half his age telling him what to do.
Giant chilli caramel
Chocolate was the answer that came to him. And so, four years ago, he took a short two day course with Benoit Lorge in Kenmare and has been learning ever since, and enjoying life, even if the commitment is huge - seven days a week.


Citing Mast Brothers of Brooklyn and London as an inspiration, he “learns new stuff every day”. It helps that “chocolate is a very forgiving substance. If something doesn't turn out well, you can melt it down and start again.”

Ireland is a good place to make chocolate but even here the weather can be a problem. “On a wet day, especially with high humidity, the excess moisture can be a problem. And on a hot summer’s day, it is impossible to work."

My favourite. Well, one of many!
 “Chocolate should be fun,” he says. “Put a smile on customers faces, adults as well as kids! I am often asked, Can you do this? I say I’ll give it a go and if it works it works”.


He had an unusual request over the recent Bank Holiday weekend. His premises were to be one of the calls on a James Bond theme arranged by a wife as part of her husband's 40th birthday celebrations. The party group were split into fours and at least one group was calling to Koko where they would find a chocolate grenade and hidden inside was 007’s favourite drink, the Martini (shaken, not stirred). I had an envious look.


Milk chocolate ganache
 Frank makes the chocolate upstairs. We were sampling as we spoke and one that really caught my attention was the Ginger-Honey-Seaweed combination, a marvellous concentration of flavours and a very long finish indeed. Superb and as Frank pointed out, all three ingredients are good for you!


His own favorite - it changes weekly! - is the Rum Truffle. “You can't go wrong with a Rum Truffle, particularly if you have enough rum!”
Halloween choc and awe!

Kirsch is another liquor that Frank uses. He uses Balkan Cherries, stones out, stalks on, and soaks them for ages in a big bucket of Kirsch. Then they are dipped in dark chocolate and are divine! He also uses the likes of crystallised orange and ginger.

Christmas, fast approaching, is a peak time for Koko. And, as Frank relies on local customers (he doesn't do wholesale), he is always hoping for reasonable weather in the two weeks before the holiday, so that people can comfortably use the roads and get to Kinsale.


 And everything here is fresh. “Everything you see here was started in the last two days. You get fresh stock, nothing is old here, it just turns over.” Quite a commitment but he gets great satisfaction from his work and loves having his own business.


By the way, he is right in the heart of the town, opposite the main car park alongside the tourist office. So do call in and take a look and while you are there you may also have a cup of coffee, maybe a hot chocolate? And, buying or looking, you are assured of a hearty welcome from Frank.



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

All About Farmers at Ballymaloe, Port. Cheese, Chocolate.

All About Farmers at Ballymaloe

Port. Cheese, Chocolate.
It was all about farmers at Ballymaloe last Thursday evening, appropriately enough in the week that the East Cork food destination celebrated the 90th birthday of Myrtle Allen.  Myrtle turned her front room into a restaurant fifty years ago and the rest is food history, still evolving. And Ballymaloe is still a farm, of course.

Thursday was also about Port, cheese and chocolate. The only real farmer on stage was Dan Hegarty whose family in Whitechurch make the well known and well loved cheddar. Chris Forbes from Taylor’s Port told us of the many small holders on the steep slopes of the Douro while Shana Wilkie of Wilkie’s Chocolate, Ireland's only bean to bar chocolate maker, told us of the small Peruvian farms from where she gets her beans.

It is mountainy in the Douro and very hot. There are some 35,000 tiny holdings, according to Chris, but Taylor’s buy grapes from less than 100. Taylor’s also grow their own - their Quinta de Vargellas is one of the best known in the world - and the port is made from a variety of indigenous grapes.

Port is a fortified wine. Fermentation is stopped after 2 or 3 days by adding 77% proof alcohol. That arrests the fermentation and maintains the high sugar level. Some hard work before all that though. The pickers start early, stop for lunch and wine, start again and stop in early evening for more food and more wine.
But they are not finished. They then start the traditional foot-treading in the lagar, two hours of tough going, squeezing out the juice and the colour. All Taylor’s vintage ports are made using traditional methods, including foot-threading.

We started the tasting with a 2008 LBV (Late Bottled Vintage). LBV was created in the 1970’s by Taylor’s, all the grapes coming from the one year and it spends 4 to 6 years in large wooden vats. Taylor’s are the world leaders in this style and, as we saw, it goes very well indeed with both cheese and chocolate (the Amazonas). By the way, if you open a bottle, Chris advised to finish within 3 to 4 weeks, as it loses its freshness after that.

Dan Hegarty was  very impressed with the Port and said he was thinking of giving up his favourite lager. Indeed, there is no shortage of good humour as Dan took us through the family’s relatively short history of making cheddar.
Shana and her relationship with the farmers
They started in 2000, using the traditional methods, and sell their products at different ages. They “went mad” early on, going flat out with production but now they are more restrained and there are only marginal increases from year to year. It is a two year cycle and they milk about 100 cows. On Thursday, we tasted three ages: 6 months, 12 months and 18. The older was the more popular though, according to Dan, his bank manager would prefer if the youngest was in top position!

Fonseca Quinta do Panascal Vintage Port 1998, the produce of just one vineyard, was next up, “an affordable way to drink vintage Port.” It is now 14 years in bottle with opulence, spiciness and red currant flavours. It proved an excellent match with Wilkie’s Amazonas with Cocoa Nibs and also with the 6 month old cheddar. And a word of advice from Chris: “On opening, decant, and drink that evening!”

Shana too had a few tips for recognising good chocolate. “Shiny chocolate is normally good, dull is not so good. A sharp snap is also a good sign.” Shana is originally a graphic designer “by trade" but always had a great interest in food.

She went on to tell how she got into chocolate making and got familiar with the different beans and flavours and was drawn to the Criollo flavour bean. She now works with a few families in Peru. At home, and home now is Midleton as she has returned to the East Cork, she is always experimenting, always getting better and indeed she already has some impressive awards to her name. 
Her Tumbes chocolate was an excellent match with the 10 Year Old Tawny. This port has spent ten years in small wooden casks, no new wood used. It is lighter in colour with mellow notes and little spice. Chris described it as a “liquid fruit cake”. Went well with the chocolate and also the 18 month cheddar. Great too with pates and terrines, according to Chris. “The style is fresh and clean and it is easy drinking.”

Chris surprised some by suggesting that these Tawines (we finished with the exquisite 20 Year Old, even lighter in colour and with a toastier aroma) be served slightly chilled and also suggested serving them in summer as well as the more traditional winter usage.

The three gathered on stage for a deserved round of applause and there was thanks too for Peter Corr of Febvre who assisted throughout the evening and for Ballymaloe’s Colm McCann and his team.
Left to right: Chris Forbes, Peter Corr, Shana Wilkie, Dan Hegarty and Yours Truly.




Monday, October 10, 2011

Chocolate Week


Newest chocolate recipes

Raspberry choc brownies from grubdaily 
It’s Chocolate Week, no better time to try our newest choccy recipes from home cooks like you. grubdaily says his Choc raspberry brownies are ‘truly indulgent’, so what are you waiting for? Find more new recipes to the right, and our entire Chocolate collection for more inspiration!

What’s your best chocolate recipe?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

LORGE AT LARGE


LORGE AT LARGE


I met Kerry chocalatier Benoit Lorge for the first time at last Saturday’s Midleton Food Festival. You just couldn’t pass the range of tempting creations at his stall. And, when you study his brochure, you realise that this is only a fraction of his portfolio of chocolate goodies.

You can buy singles or boxes (with anything from two to 54 pieces). You can fill a mixed bag, like I did, 10 for €6.00. He also does chocolate bars including an award winning Praline and also Nougat (nice stuff too – I got some in Manning’s Ballylickey two months ago). His truffles - buy by the bag – are multi-awards winners, gold going to the Rum Bitter, the soft Rum and Caramel and also to the Orange and Cointreau.

I had whiskey and rum included in my selection and you may also get Baileys and other liqueurs.  But you may also avoid the

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

NOUGAT HEAD TO HEAD


LORGE AT LARGE
In a rural setting, between Kenmare and Glengarriff, in a Kerry village called Bonane, a French chef called Benoit Lorge makes exquisite chocolates that end up in all corners of the world.
This success story started back in 1995 and goes on and on. They ship worldwide via their website  while local stockists here in Cork are Nash 19 (Princes Street) and the Sugar Cafe (Washington Street).

Monday, December 13, 2010

BUYING IRISH

BUYING IRISH
NEED TO BE AWARE & AWAKE

Must admit I don't always have the green flag wrapped around me when I’m shopping, even for food. But If the Irish product has the quality and is price competitive, then I’ll