Hi! My name is Stephanie Zonis, and welcome to the November, 2004 edition of For Chocolate Lovers Only! Each month, you’ll find a recipe or two, tips, and recommendations on great chocolate specialties. The holidays rear their frightening heads once more, dear reader, but as long as we have good chocolate and good company, they shall not defeat us! If you’re reading this on November 1st or 2nd and live in the US, please make sure you vote; this is an important election.
Chocolate Recommendation of the Month: Jeff Shepherd doesn’t know it yet, but I’m planning to clone him sometime soon. I do hope it won’t be too confusing for his wife, but I’m afraid I see no way around it; he simply does too much for one man, and it would be unthinkable to have him burn out. Discounting entirely the fact that he’s a successful oil painter, Jeff raises several kinds of berries on almost two acres of organically-maintained farmland and makes deeply-flavored jams from them. Then, of course, he also makes chocolates. And these aren’t any old confections; they are chocolates to bewitch and ensorcel you with graceful shapes, intriguing flavor combinations, and even a few bright colors. It is primarily for this last labor that his small business, Lillie Belle Farms, is this month’s Chocolate Recommendation.
Jeff is a big fan of bittersweet, something you’ll soon notice when you taste any of his ganache-filled chocolates (try the espresso, with it’s deep, dark, just-sweet-enough taste) or his buttercreams (such as pistachio or hazelnut). His “cordials”, which I thought would contain alcohol, do not. They are filled with some of his Lillie Belle Farms preserves and capped with just a bit of fondant. Visually, you get the delight of biting into a multi-layered chocolate. But the flavor of these cordials is astonishing; there’s a very intense burst of fruit, slowly mixed with and followed by a very dark chocolate. My absolute favorite is the strawberry, although the marionberry isn’t far behind. These chocolates are swank and elegant, but they never sacrifice flavor for style! The boxes are quietly classy, too. Lillie Belle Farms offers corporate gifts as well as boxes for individuals. Secure online ordering? But of course! Surf on over to www.lilliebellefarms.com for more information, or call them at (541) 899-9037, Monday through Friday, between 9 am and 5 pm, PST. Taste these chocolates, and you’ll know why I’m asking Jeff for a sample of his DNA!
Chocolate Event of the Month: I have a recurring dream. I’m in the middle of a large space; a lot of other people are around me. It’s a convivial crowd; everyone is eating and smiling, because most of what they’re eating is chocolate. There are booths where people are handing out chocolate samples and booths where people are buying chocolate as gifts. In one area, there’s a book signing going on, and I suddenly realize that the signer and author of the book is Colette Peters; Jacques Torres will be showing up to sign his book later. In another area, Lora Brody (I have every one of her books!) is demonstrating something to a standing-room-only crowd. I pick up a schedule for other demonstrations and discover that such dessert-world luminaries as Nick Malgieri, former White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier, and Nicole Coady of Finale will also be doing demonstrations. Suddenly, I am seized by a great indecision. I literally don’t know where to turn first, but I have to admit that dilemnas don’t get much more delightful than this.
If you’d like to engage in similar dreams, albeit when you’re in a conscious state, make sure you get to The Seventh Annual Chocolate Show, taking place this year in New York City from November 11th through the 14th. The place? The Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues (also, the adjacent Altman Building). The Show runs from 10 am to 7 pm each day, and admission is $20 per adult, with discounts for senior citizens, students with ID, and children 14 and under (little ones under 6 are free). One of the especially fun aspects of this Show is that you never know who will be exhibiting. This year, exhibitors include a number of companies unknown to me, such as Valerie Confections of Las Angeles, Mary’s (all the way from Japan!), and Coco’s Chocolate Dreams. Don’t you love finding good new chocolates? Think of the potential here! For more information, head to the website, at www.chocolateshow.com. See ya there!
Food Event of the Month: When you think of American food “hot spots”, Philadelphia and Cleveland might not necessarily spring to mind immediately. But that’s all about to change. The Food Network, you see, is sponsoring The Great Big Food Show in or near both cities this month. In Philadelphia, you’ll want to head to the Ft. Washington Expo Center, November 5th through 7th. In Cleveland, the place to be is the I-X Center, November 12th through 14th. What will you find there? Celebrity chefs, both local and national (in the latter category, think Alton Brown, Rachel Ray, Mario Batali, etc.) Lots of culinary demonstrations. Special sections in each show devoted to wines and spirits. And food, of course! Companies large and small will be showing off their wares. I particularly like the fact that there will be some local companies in each venue, as too often they are overlooked.
Admission and parking charges vary by venue, as do show hours. For more information, surf over to www.greatbigfoodshow.com. This is the very first year this show has been held, but it was organized by the same team that put together the Good Food Sydney Show in Australia. I was there last fall, and it was a blast. Hopefully, The Great Big Food Show will be just as much fun and will become an annual tradition. Check it out!
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