Monday, January 31, 2011

Easy Recipes: Valerie Confections' Rustic Truffles

In anticipation of Valentine's Day, Valerie Gordon from Valerie Confections offered to share one of her recipes for my readers. If you've never tried Valerie Confections before, their salt and pepper truffles are addictive and they have some of the best toffees in town.

Don't worry, I got you covered and picked out the easiest-yet-delectable recipe (alright it's mainly so even I can make it).

Here is Valerie's recipe for her rustic chocolate truffles:

Rustic Truffles

2 1/2 cups 72% chocolate
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup unsweetened cocoa

Boil cream in a small saucepan.

Pour boiled cream over 72% chocolate, butter and salt.

Let sit for 1 minute, then stir until the chocolate melts.

Refrigerate until firm.

Using a small scoop or melon baller, scoop small rounds of ganache and drop in cocoa and coat completely.

Store in the refrigerator.

Yields: 50 truffles

Sounds easy right? And they look mighty good too. Now go and make your loved on some truffles. He/she will probably only need 20, and won't notice where the other 30 went ... ;)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Whole Foods Market Take It Up A Notch: Animal Welfare Rating, Collaboration Wines

Late last year Whole Foods Market invited some bloggers to talk about their latest efforts to be more than just a grocery store. These efforts include a partnership with Global Animal Partnership to introduce new meat rating system called the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating and exclusive wines resulting from a collaboration between Whole Foods and local wineries.

If you've read Michael Pollan's books, you're probably aware that "free range" labels on eggs, milk, and meat don't necessarily mean that the animals were treated well or were even let out of their cages much.

The 5-step rating goes beyond simple designations such as "organic", "free range" or "sustainable" but just how well are the animals being treated? To be step-rated to begin with, the farm couldn't use cages or crates.
Many of the WFM locations don't actually have all meats with the highest Step 5+ rating, which required the animals to have spent their entire lives on one farm, cattles and pigs must be slaughtered on the farm and chicken can only be transported a short distance, on top of having no physical alteration of the animal like ID tags (step 5). I'd imagine each step up will be more expensive too but at least you'd be able to deliberate over the benefit vs. price difference yourself.

The Whole Foods Market Southern Pacific Region has been working with some Santa Barbara County wineries to create blends exclusive to Whole Foods. In Fall 2010, they released two wines named "A Collaboration".
The first wine is a blend of six Santa Barbara Country vineyards created by Margerum Wine Company and is based on their M5 wine. This wine is priced at $19.99, a deal compared to their M5.
According to Whole Foods' Regional Specialty Coordinator, Claude Ruau-Choate,  this wine is representative of the European palate while the second is more California with its fruit forwardness.
The second wine comes from Hitching Post Winery and features 73% Valdiguie and 27% Syrah, priced at $12.99.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Blue Danube Wines: Unique, Interesting Varietals Along the Danube

There's a new kid in the town of wine importing.
Blue Danube Wine imports some very interesting wines from countries along the Danube river including Austria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia.


I've never encountered or even thought about the possibility of wines from these regions with only one exception (Tokaj from Hungary), but a blogger tasting (held at Mignon in downtown LA) guided by Stetson Robbins from Blue Danube Wine really opened up my palate.

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