Saturday, November 17, 2007

This Week in Candy - Back in my second home

candy buffetI’m in the Bay Area again. It’s like a second home to me lately. I come here for two reasons, the first is that it’s home to the National Novel Writing Month headquarters. We’re having a big fundraiser tonight called The Night of Writing Dangerously. 200 writers, most from the area but some from as far away as Toronto, will descend upon a ballroom to sit on uncomfortable chairs for six hours to write en masse. My contribution to the evening is a Candy Buffet. I’ve been doing a lot of product photography lately for Candy Warehouse, and one of the side effects of that is leftover candy (I get to keep whatever I shoot). Usually it’s not that much and I can simply hand it off to folks at the office. In this case it was bulk items like Brach’s cinnamon disks, butter toffee, orange slices, mini gummi bears and a huge array of Koppers chocolate goodies ... sooooo much candy.

So I loaded up my car and hit the road with, literally, my weight in candy in the back.

This is a huge load off my mind, of course, because now the candy will go to wonderful writers who really, really want it. (And while I really, really want it too, I can’t possibly eat my weight in candy before it spoils, well, I could but then it’d be half my weight in candy.)

The second reason I like coming to the Bay Area is that it is home to so many candy companies. Some are fine chocolatiers (many of whom I’ve reviewed now: Recchiuti, Charles Chocolates & Joseph Schmidt) as well as factories like Jelly Belly, Scharffen Berger, Sconza, Annabelle’s, Ghirardelli and Guittard.

Guittard QuetzalcoatlThe cornerstone of my trip was a visit to the Guittard chocolate factory for a personal tour by Gary Guittard. I have been to quite a few factories in my life, but this was the the most immersive I’ve ever had. (No, I don’t mean that I was immersed in chocolate.) Gary was wonderfully open and of course incredibly versed in the intricacies of beans, fermenting, roasting, combining and all the other variables that go into making such painstakingly wonderful chocolate. He was also fantastically patient with me and of course so generous (as are most chocolate people I’ve met). I’ll have more on that as I go through the products that I have for review. It was an incredible experience. If there’s one thing that I came away with was a huge appreciation for the fact that we live in a time with such incredible chocolate. (Something I’ll probably make mention of on Thanksgiving.)

Of course any city that makes so much candy has to have good candy stores. So yesterday, knowing that I’d soon be free of 135 pounds of candy, I went and bought some more.

I’ll have larger write ups about these in the future, but here was my itinerary (fellow writer YumSugar also came along on the last three stops!):

  • Miette Confissiere - I bought licorice, some Nougats de Montelimar by G. Savin and a couple of Bergamot caramels.
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  • Fog City News - they have a huge selection of chocolate bars, I got two Fair Trade Zotter bars, the Amano Cuyagua, a Coppeneur Ocumare with Chili & Cacao Nibs, a handful of teensy Fair Trade Divine 70% bars and a San Jose del Tambo 70% dark chocolate bar from Askinosie.
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  • The Candy Store - more licorice, some Caffarel bite size pieces, Ice Cubes, Marich Dark Chocolate Covered Orange Peel, Dark Chocolate Sponge Candy from Parkside Candy in Buffalo, NY and an intriguing assortment from Voisin of France called Papillotes Confiseur that I think includes some nougat, marzipan and ... um, I don’t know what else.
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  • CocoaBella - a very small assortment that included a Lillie Belle Jamaican Spiced Caramel, a Maglio Stuffed Fig (loved it when I had it last year and had it for lunch today), Michel Cluizel Champignon Bolet (hazenlut) and the traditional Champignon (almond), two traditional dark pieces from Mary, a Belgian company that seemed to make a big splash at the Chocolate Show in NYC and finally two pieces from Christopher Elbow: Bourbon Pecan and Bananas Foster.
  • I also popped by Charles Chocolate on Thursday to taste their new winter assortment and catch up with Chuck Siegel since I haven’t talked to him in a year and since that time they’ve opened their new shop & cafe with the factory adjacent. Chuck was gracious and gave me some wonderful items to sample (in addition to the ones eaten on site and on sight) such as their lemon and blood orange marmalade (perhaps something for Thanksgiving will include this?), the new Caramel Almonds Sticks and his new 65% Bittersweet Bar that includes Candied Hazelnut Pieces (which I hope is like this Mallorca bar I had earlier this year)

    Monday: Russell Stover Private Reserve Vanilla Bean Brulee (8 out of 10)

    Tuesday: Mentos - Pine Fresh (Pineapple) (8 out of 10)

    Wednesday: Cadbury Ornament Creme Egg (4 out of 10)

    Thursday: Peppermint Peep Stars (6 out of 10)

    Friday: Sour Jujyfruits (6 out of 10)

    Average for the week 6.4 with a 20% chocolate content.

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:11 am Tracker Pixel for Entry     CandyFeatured News

    Comments
    1. Happy to hear you had a great time! I can’t wait t ohear how you like the Amano Cuyagua and the Coppeneur. I was really impressed with them! Also the new stuff at Charles Chocolates (Chuck is such a sweetheart!) is sooooo goood. I wish I could have tried the blood orange marmelade you mention, but I did try the new bar and it was DEE-LISH!

      Comment by Sera on 11/17/07 at 11:17 am #

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