Thursday, July 26, 2007

London: European Candy Bars

On a recent trip to London, I had the opportunity to run through Harrods. I was very pressed for time, so I went directly to the Food Hall and the Chocolate Section (of course).

I took a random sample of what they consider the best.

Galler- Jean Galler's family has had a confectioner’s shop since 1930 and now they have their own counter and section in Harrods. His chocolate passion seems to eek form his veins. I sampled all sorts of different Galler products. The candy bars are amazing. The most unique are the small, individually wrapped, pieces (almost like small bars) that come in a box of 18 called "Langues de Chat". Your choice of boxes in the 3 chocolates (dark, milk and white) all stuffed with the smoothest of hazelnut paste. The are like small Delicious truffle bars!

Charbonnel et Walker- I grabbed a few bars and was impressed with the smoothness of each. The Caramel Bar was particularly good! It hit me on the plane home that this is the Company that opened a boutique at Saks Fifth Ave. in NY. I had a great Sundae there in December- VERY GOOD place to stop by when you need a quick fix in New York City!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

New Candy from Nestle- "Crunch Crisp" resurrects Old Memories

Fond Memories: In 1969, I moved to a new neighborhood, got a new 3 speed bike and spotted a store I could get to on my own.. Stop 'N Go at 610 and Memorial Drive in Houston. That is where I tried my first Nestle's Crunch Bar and oh how I have loved this candy bar ever since! In actuality, I believe I can count this as site of and reason for my first major business transaction.  You see, when I started riding my bike to the corner store, candy was a nickel.  After a few years, my friend the clerk gave me the bad news that because the price of sugar had gone up, so too would the price of my beloved daily snack- to a dime. In shock, I stepped back and ran to the aisle- spotted 2 unopened boxes on the shelf and sighed a slight exhale in relief.  A few seconds later, with my idea formed and business plan in mind, I jumped on my bicycle and motored back to my house.  After cracking open my piggy bank, I was back at the store in a flash.  I purchased those 2 boxes (36ct) + 18 more bars (cleaned them out) for 5cents a piece.  I had just secured nearly a 3 month supply for half price. GREAT DEAL!

The "Crunch" Bar has been on top of my list through 4 decades. Now, Nestle has combined a crunch bar with a crispy wafer, crispies and chocolate creamy ganache to create the "Crunch Crisp".

This is a Winner!!

Chocolate Chip Cookies!!

Crispy Plain Chocolate Chip Cookies: I LOVE THEM!!

This has been a passion of mine my entire life. Probably was my introduction to chocolate when I was in diapers.

In my 22 years of "living" on the road, I have tried every chocolate chip cookie from every cookie store I have ever passed- that, my friends, is a lot of cookies!

I contacted Famous Amos about a franchise long before they ever franchised and long ago- since they are not in business the way they were when they kicked off the chain cookie store business (before Mrs. Field's entered the mall business) in the '70s. I was in high school in '78-'79 when I first talked to Wally, in Hawaii. My parents put the kibosh on my brilliant plan to be a cookie maven (college was more important- they told me) and someone else opened the store at the Houston Galleria. Who knows how big I would be today had I started baking for a profession 30 years ago.

I mention that because I need your help to find the 2008 version of the world's greatest crispy choco-chip (today-no soft ones, please).

My Hall of fame includes Hot Cookies' "Crispie Critters" at The Dadeland Mall in Miami and Nam's Cookies available at specialty shops like Swoozies (Atlanta and Dallas). There used to be a great cookie store at Kings Plaza in Queens, NY, but I believe it has also gone away...

Let me know where else I need to go.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

LA: Chocolatine....I'm back

Well folks,

It has been quite a bit of time since I have posted a message. A new website and blog are on the way but I felt it important to start posting again. I have not stopped trying chocolate around the world, just been so busy, I have failed to report on all of the places I've been... and for that I truly and sorry.

This past week I was in "The Valley" of Los Angeles. It was a quick day trip, but my meeting ended early and I was able to find a great little local chocolate shop (and lunch spot) called "Chocolatine".

Located in Thousand Oaks on E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., the handmade chocolates are terrific. I brought home a small box and have thoroughly enjoyed all of the pieces. My favorites: The honey caramel is Fantastic, as is the white chocolate covered dark chocolate truffle. The thick nougat chocolate is terrific, too

What a pleasant surprise of a find!!