Thursday, February 28, 2008

Leap Day on the Gourmet Club

It’s not just any old Friday on this week’s Gourmet Club (not that it ever is...). It’s Leap Day of a Leap Year and we’re packing in a lot of content to make the most of the extra day this month.

Joining us in studio is Chuck Samuelson, the leader of VinVillage-San Diego. He’ll fill us in on his new wine-oriented social networking site as well as his new catering company, Chuck Samuelson Catering.

Later in the hour, Kim Barnouin, co-author with Rory Freedman of the books Skinny Bitch and Skinny Bitch in the Kitch, will offer some straight talk about making intelligent and educated decisions about food.

And, as if that weren’t enough, our good friend Mike Mitchell of Oceanaire is going to give us an update on dining hotspots around town. We’ll also talk about the upcoming “Passport to Sonoma Valley weekend coming up May 17th and 18th with one of the event’s representatives.

It’s a full plate for one hour. Join Ron James, Robert Whitley and me on Friday, Feb. 29 from 1 to 2 p.m. at, or podcast the show and listen at your convenience!

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Marukai Market: Competition in Kearny Mesa? Sadly, Not Yet

In recent months, those of us who love Asian markets have been eagerly anticipating the opening of Marukai Market in Kearny Mesa. Last year, the Japanese company had taken over the southeast corner of Balboa and Mercury, just off the 163. The three buildings in the little shopping center had previously housed an unfinished furniture store and mattress stores, so it took some renovating to bring in the grocery store, which finally opened earlier this month; Marukai Living, a strange hybrid of housewares, health care, clothing and other items; and Daiso, a very cool $1.50 store. The latter two opened late last year.

Marukai Market was the last of the trio to open and I must have stopped by there two or three times thinking it was ready, only to find newspaper ads papering the glass walls and the doors still shuttered. So, I was almost breathless when I finally got to walk in and see what they had to offer. It would have to be special. After all, the large, established Mitsuwa Marketplace is just down the street on Mercury and the lovely Nijiya Market with its organic produce and on-site bakery is perhaps half a mile away on Convoy (not to mention Zion, the large Korean market, which is just across Balboa). I was primed to fall in love.

Unfortunately, it has been a not-so-grand opening and there’s no love in my heart. I’ve been to the store three times this month, including a trip with renowned Japanese cooking teacher Mineko Moreno, and have been terribly disappointed. The store itself is very small, but even so shelves are chronically understocked as is the produce department. Most of the fish is frozen. The take away sushi counter is tiny and unimpressive. And, to make matters worse, the market is freezing. Poor Mineko could barely keep from shivering and even I, always more comfortable on the cool side, was ready to bolt after 20 minutes.

Since my goal is to showcase not diminish places that offer interesting foodstuff, I am reluctant to say don’t go. You’ll find a lot of great stuff at Marukai. It’s simply that you’ll find the same and more at Mitsuwa and Nijiya.

Of course, one of the benefits of visiting the store with Mineko was getting her take on many of the items at the store. So, I did return and pick up some things that stood out.

One of my favorite dishes when I go out for sushi or stop by the market is seaweed salad. I love the ocean overtones and how the seaweed’s texture can be simultaneously chewy and crunchy. Marukai sells a nice little chukka seaweed salad, which Mineko pointed out is actually Chinese, not Japanese. I picked up a package of the salad, along with a package of combination sushi and a crunchy shrimp roll. I enjoyed the chukka, but the sushi was a little tired; the crunchy shrimp roll, for instance, not so crunchy.

In the noodle aisle, Mineko pointed out the vast variety of dry noodles that seem very similar, but she pulled out one package that is unique, buckwheat soba noodles (Jyuuwari Soba Nisshin) that are made only with buckwheat flour. Most others also contain wheat flour. These, she said, are a little challenging to cook—don’t rinse them before cooking because they’ll turn into mush, but do rinse them after. However, the flavor is worth the extra care in preparation.

Mineko was pleased, I think, with the selection of pickled vegetables. There were packages of pickled garlic, one sweet, one more savory. I can’t resist garlic and wanted to try something a little different, so I bought the sweet garlic, or shiba ninniku zuke, which contains soy sauce, sugar, honey, vinegar, smoked shaved bonito and lemon. They are, indeed, sweetly tangy and I’ve enjoyed snacking on these a lot.

I wasn't as fond of the pickled eggplant, although I loved the crazy deep blue purple color. It’s a simple pickle of eggplant and vinegar, but the flavor was too harsh for me. It may just have been the particular brand I bought or perhaps it’s something that is tastier in the context of other dishes. When I go to eat at Sakura, they usually offer a small plate of pickled vegetables with the main dish and I wonder if I would like them as much if I were just eating them on their own.

My favorite, though, may have been the pickled daikon radish. I’m a sucker for this and the small pre-sliced package I picked up was particularly good.

Usually, these are added to noodles, but at heart I'm a nosher, so I enjoy munching on them solo. Mineko singled out a different package of daikon called bettarazuke, which she said are softer and very sweet compared to other daikon. Another pickled item that she eats everyday is pickled plum, of which Marukai has several varieties.

Mineko pointed out a wide selection of rakkyo, or pickled shallot, that are widely served with curry. In the same display area was something I’ll return for called Oden, a favorite of Mineko. These are little pieces of molded mousse-like fish, very mild in flavor, that create a popular winter soup dish. Blanche them briefly and add to a broth with winter root vegetables and simmer for about 30 minutes, according to Mineko.

The meats at Marukai looked interesting. They carry both Kobe-style and Kobe beef for shabu shabu. It’s pretty easy to tell the difference between the real deal and the imitation. The Kobe’s marbling is constant, almost like tiny capillaries running through the meat. Kobe-style marbling is chunkier, thicker, not as refined.

At Mineko’s suggestion, I later picked up an interesting product I hadn’t noticed before, soy wrappers.

They come in five colors: turmeric yellow, sesame, paprika orange, spinach green and original soy. These are pretty little sheets that you can obviously use to make sushi rolls, but also can be a colorful “salad bowl” or be stacked with vegetables to make a fun appetizer. This is a summer-like product and with all the rain and cold weather, I haven’t tried them yet.

Finally, we hit the snack aisles. Months ago I had toured Nijiya with Mineko and got hooked on a kid’s snack, “Hot’N Spicy” teriyaki nori, little strips of roasted nori with soy sauce, sweet sake and chili pepper. I was happy to find that Marukai also sells it and bought a couple of packages.

I pointed out to Mineko my favorite cookie, a little pinched disc that looks like a cookie version of Frosted Flakes but has a wonderfully zesty bite of ginger. The package says they’re called Funaoka Shoga Tsumami. I love eating them with green tea in the late afternoon.

Mineko, on the other hand, is addicted to Karinto cookies (Gokubuto Kuro Karinto). Made with wheat flour and brown sugar, they look like stubby pretzels and taste like molasses. She likes to crumble them and scatter the pieces on ice cream.

I’m hoping that after this first month of their being open Marukai gets it together and not only fully stocks the store (honestly, how can you have so little rice available?) but begins to offer something more that would draw customers in who otherwise would choose Mitsuwa or Nijiya. If you find that your experience at Marukai is better than mine have been, please let me know.

Marukai Market is located at 8151 Balboa Ave. (Note: this is supposedly a membership market, but nobody at the registers asked if I had a card or wanted to join. Perhaps this will change? My calls to the company haven't been returned.)

Have some thoughts about Marukai Market or other ethnic markets in San Diego? Do you have a favorite neighborhood market or shop that carries unique or unusual foodstuff? Let me know or add to the conversation by clicking on comments below:

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

This Friday on the Gourmet Club...

It's all about wine on Friday's show. We're going to have two very interesting guests to talk about the art and science of pairing food and wine.

Natalie MacLean, author of Red, White and Drunk All Over, has a really helpful wine-and-food matcher on her website that not only offers suggestions for the type of wine, but even specific wines that work with a particular dish. MacLean has won four James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards for her writing on drinks, including the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award, in memory of one of America's greatest food writers.

John Alonge, co-owner of the San Diego Wine & Culinary Center, will be with us in studio for the entire show. Located downtown, across from the Convention Center at 200 Harbor Drive, Suite 120, the Center holds tastings for the public five days a week (including Wednesday night K-9's-N-Wine for dog owners and their pups), offers cooking classes and special events. We'll learn all about the Center and local wines from Alonge.

Tune in to the Gourmet Club with Ron James, Robert Whitley and me on Friday, Feb. 22 from 1 to 2 p.m. at or podcast the show and listen at your convenience!

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Caron to Appear on KPBS Radio's "These Days"

Tune in to KPBS radio's "These Days" on Monday, Feb. 11 at 10 a.m. I'll be a guest on the show with Eclipse Chocolat's Will Gustwiller to talk about chocolate. You can listen in at 89.5 FM or on your computer at

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Dallmann Confections: Candyland in El Cajon

Trying to find Dallmann Confections is a little tricky. Just off the 8 freeway in El Cajon, the little storefront doesn’t yet have any signage to speak of—owner Isabella Valencia’s only been there for two weeks—and the place is set back from the street. But, the location is really more headquarters than retail operation. Valencia has plans to eventually hold chocolate and wine tastings as well as chocolate-making classes here, but unlike other local chocolatiers, she has no plans for opening a café or shop on site.

“This just isn’t the right location for a café,” she acknowledges. “I’d rather wait until I can do it in La Jolla.”

But, having bounced around for the last couple of years in different locations, including downtown San Diego, her new East County workspace is a welcome relief. The garish yellow and turquoise paint on the walls and ceiling will soon be a thing of the past once Valencia redecorates, but in the meantime she’s got a large open kitchen—perfect for hands-on classes and demonstrations—as well as plenty of room for tasting guests to circulate.

You would think the 27-year-old Valencia came to making chocolate as an inevitability. Back in the ‘50s in her native Austria, her grandfather, Guenther Dallmann, ran a much loved pastry shop, which grew in renown and success when her mother and father expanded the business. Their Mozart Travel Cake—remember, this is Austria—is one of their biggest draws. It would have been only natural for Valencia to join the business, but instead it was her brother who went to work for their parents while she continued her education, earning a degree in hotel and restaurant management at The Institute of Tourism & Hotel Management in Klessheim, Austria.

Valencia first came to the U.S. on an internship at a resort in the Poconos Mountains back east. It wasn’t the most exciting place she could have landed but it was there that she met her husband, Alex. The couple returned to Austria for awhile but the Westgate Hotel’s general manager, George Hochfilzer, also Austrian, recruited them to work at the downtown San Diego hotel for 18 months.

“The idea was that we’d go back home to Austria after 18 months,” she says, “but with an American husband I was able to get a green card and I was promoted to manage the gourmet shop.”

Long story short—one day Valencia got a call at work from Mainly Mozart, asking if she knew where they could buy Mozart chocolates, a delicacy that, as it happened, her parents make. Shipping the chocolates from overseas became cumbersome so Valencia decided to quit her job to learn how to make them herself. That was “it” for her.

“It’s like the way nuns say they feel when they explain their calling,” she says. “I felt it was what I was meant to do.”

Three weeks back at home with her family gave her the fundamental skills she needed to get started. She returned to San Diego, told Mainly Mozart she was ready to provide them directly with what they needed—and they told her they weren’t interested anymore.

Fortunately, Valencia was inspired by her new-found passion and, like an Einstein she says, spent her time at home playing with chocolates and ingredients like teas and spices to develop a line of confections. She approached her former Westgate Hotel colleagues, and they became her first customers. Wasting no time getting more accounts, her business quickly grew. Valencia now sells her chocolates to wine bars like Wine Love, Wine Steals, The Cask Room and Eno Winebar; retail stores like Taste, Zanzibar, Orfila Vineyards, Java Jones and the Westgate Gourmet Shop; restaurants like Villa Portofino in Catalina and hotels such as Tower23, the U.S. Grant, W. Hotel Spa, the Westgate and The Handlery.

And now of all things, Valencia’s preparing for the Academy Awards. Dallmann Chocolates will be part of the celebrity swag giveaway extravaganza for three days leading up to the Oscar’s. “I got an email out of nowhere asking me to participate,” she says. “I’ll be with other vendors at the Beverly Hilton in a booth with a display. They tell me that 35 celebrities a day will come to the booth, eat my chocolates and have their photos taken with me.”

Her hope, of course, is that she’ll be able to generate a lot of publicity through the event and even garner some A-list customers.

In the meantime, Valencia is madly whipping up confections for her regular clientele as well as other special events. Stacked on shelves are bags of the Felchlin chocolates that are the foundation of her creations: dark 72 percent, a lighter 65 percent and 38 percent milk chocolate. The Swiss company makes single bean organic chocolate derived from Venezuela.

In the adjoining workroom, drawers are packed with all sorts of fascinating ingredients that she uses in her chocolates. Out came a small bag from Japan containing pearl dust, literally the wispy particles that result from hand grinding pearls. Valencia sprinkles it on her Prosceco and Pearls champagne truffles, a hit at weddings, she says. Then there’s a container of bee pollen and another of royal jelly for her Royal Jelly truffle. Royal jelly, which is secreted from the salivary glands of worker bees, provides nutrition to the larvae in the hive. Valencia uses it in the truffle’s ganache, and sprinkles bee pollen lightly on top. She also has a bag of fine grade macha, or green tea powder, and assorted spices and herbs. Fresh flowers, like orchids and roses, figure in her presentations and dried flower petals often top her candies.

Interestingly, she says she gets many of her ideas for her confections from body shop products, which often contain unusual combinations of ingredients. But, it still takes a lot of fine tuning to be able to turn a concept into a luxurious chocolate bonbon or truffle. One example is the key lime bonbon I tried that morning.

It is a beautiful treat—Valencia uses her thumb to paint the inside of the molds a vibrant yellow and green. The ganache is made with key lime and forest honey. The trick has been just how far to take the lime flavor. Too much and customers will wince at the taste of sour chocolate, so it has to be just enough to develop the flavor and no more. Valencia is just shy of reaching the finish line here, although the bonbon itself is rich and delicious.

On the other hand, the Rose bonbon was perfection and I’m not even a huge fan of rose-flavored food. It reminds me of my grandmother’s strong smelling soaps when I was a child. And, often candy makers are heavy handed with the rosewater. So, I was wary. But, it was a delight, especially the way it infused the caramel filling and contrasted with the bittersweet chocolate encasing it.

The Jasmine bonbon gently stoked my taste buds. The scent of the tea just swam up to my nose while its flavor lingered on the back of my tongue even after I swallowed the chocolate.

The other tea-flavored bonbon I sampled, Macha Passion, was equally well crafted. I love macha tea and I love passion fruit. Until recently, I grew a vine in my garden, always hoping it would bear the small fruit with its sweet-tart syrupy pulp. Valencia uses a passion fruit puree at the base of the bonbon, topped with a gorgeous ganache infused with macha, all wrapped in chocolate. My mouth felt like a happy playground as different flavors bumped up against one another.

The Giandja, a combination of hazelnut paste and Frangelico, a hazelnut liqueur, was far more subtle and luxurious. It’s a smooth jazz kind of confection.

The palate is jolted awake, though, with the playful Fleur de Sel, which Valencia says is a customer favorite. The sea salt sits in the center of the top of the bonbon, so no matter where you bite, you get a sensation of buttery caramel and a little kick of salt, snuggled in bittersweet chocolate.

Finally, I got a chance to taste one of Valencia’s truffles, her basic chocolate truffle rolled in cocoa powder. It was dense and dark, definitely an adult confection.

Valencia also has a line of three chocolate bars of varying depths of chocolate. Her smart packaging includes suggestions on the back for wine pairings with the chocolates.

“I love to watch people take a bite of my chocolate and see the smiles on their faces,” says Valencia. “It makes me feel like a superstar on stage.”

Dallmann Confections is located at 780 N. 2nd St. in El Cajon. You can learn where to find her products on her web site,

Have some thoughts about Dallmann Confections or other artisan chocolatiers in San Diego? Do you have a favorite neighborhood market or shop that carries unique or unusual foodstuff? Let me know or add to the conversation by clicking on comments below:

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Friday, February 8, 2008

Chi Chocolat: A Spot of Decadence in Little Italy

Jesse Brown is a character. He loves to talk about chocolate, about the way it can be crafted, about its health benefits and how Americans can learn something from Europeans both in how chocolate is made and consumed. In short, Jesse Brown loves to talk.

Fortunately for his customers, Jesse Brown is just as passionate when it comes to actually making his truffles and bonbons. In his small shop, Chi Chocolat, which includes a charming café set with mosaic tables, a place to play chess and a picture window onto the passing world of India St., Brown works his growing skills as an artisan chocolate maker. The open kitchen allows customers to watch the chocolate temper, watch him fill the plastic molds that form his bonbons and roll and dip his truffles. “People are paying a lot for hand-crafted chocolates and I think it helps for them to see the effort that goes into making them,” he says.

Brown and his wife, Tess, have been in chocolates for three years in conjunction with running their thriving catering business. It’s clear the self-taught chocolatier loves what he does and feels he has a higher calling to serve the community through his chocolates.

The bonbons and truffles, made with Callebaut chocolate, hold up to scrutiny. Like many other chocolatiers, Brown is taking his creations to a higher level with the use of a variety of spices and herbs, teas and liquors, salts and curries and fruits and nuts. Brown sees a similarity between wine and fine chocolate—both in their richness, delicacy and complexity and the necessary balance of texture, aroma and taste. He cleverly has organized his chocolates into themed “flights” that highlight various characteristics. These flights include:

Truffle: an assortment of hand rolled rustic truffles

Exotic Spice: Ganaches combined with spices like chile and pink peppercorns

Cosmopolitan: Ganaches such as crème brulee, burnt caramel, white chocolate, dark chocolate and lavender and caramel

Liquer: bonbons infused with an assortment of fine liquors

Tea: Ganaches infused with green tea, earl grey leaves, exotic chai spices, jasmine tea and ginger

Nuts & Flowers: Milk chocolate with roasted almond butter, dark chocolate with marzipan, almonds and almond paste, hazelnuts, pistachios and lavender

I tried a wonderful duo—a long, glossy Jaeden, a white chocolate ganache infused with green tea powder from Uji, Japan, and the Blue French, a lavender and caramel ganache encased in dark chocolate. The Jaeden had just the slightest hint of the green tea. It’s simple and satisfying. The Blue French was like a long drink of lavender bookended at bite and finish with a distinctive crunch of the dark chocolate shell. It was surprising and happily so.

I also enjoyed Brown’s traditional classic dark truffle. Made with 72 percent chocolate and finished with a roll in dark chocolate powder, it was truffle 101—earthy and rich with deeply dark, woody undertones.

In fact, it’s this darkness that Brown emphasizes is so good for us. Forget the sweet, sweet, sweetness of a Hershey’s Kiss. Dark chocolate with its more sophisticated and restrained flavors is, he says, actually good for you.

“We’re regressing from mass produced, highly sugared chocolate to what chocolate is today by understanding that higher percentage chocolates taste better and are better for you,” he says. “Dark chocolate contains high-density lipoproteins, which protect against heart disease.”

And, of course, chocolate is said to contain antioxidant properties and act as an appetite suppressant. These claims all are subject to continued studies, but isn’t it cool to think that eating good-quality chocolates could actually be healthy?

Medical claims aside, Brown’s confections are quite simply deliciously decadent. But, even if you’re not in the mood for them, Chi Chocolat is a wonderful place to stop by for a mocha and bagel or croissant. Brown makes a number of espresso drinks using Caffe Calabria’s roasted coffees and offers paninis and several pastries like cheesecake, chocolate-dipped biscotti and tiramisu.

“This is a place to meet, greet and talk,” says Brown. “We want to welcome people in to sit and enjoy themselves, have some chocolate and be a part of the community.”

Chi Chocolat is located at 2021 India St. at Grape St.

Have some thoughts about Chi Chocolat or other artisan chocolatiers in San Diego? Do you have a favorite neighborhood market or shop that carries unique or unusual foodstuff? Let me know or add to the conversation by clicking on comments below:

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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Chuao Chocolatier: Bonbon Vivant in San Diego Via Venezuela

First things first—in case you were wondering, Chuao is pronounced “chew-Wow.” And, yes, it’s a fortunate play on words for this decadent house of chocolate, but it also happens to be the name of a small village in central Venezuela, famous for its cacao plantations.

With Valentine’s Day approaching, it’s all hearts and sweets at the various Chuao Chocolate Cafes. But, nothing like what you’d find at your momma’s chocolate shop. There’s chocolate with chevre, chocolate with Earl Grey tea, chocolate with cabernet caramel, with lemon tequila, with green tea and with Meyer lemon pulp. And, my favorite, the Spicy Maya—a dark chocolate, both in bar form and as hot chocolate, infused with pasilla chile and cayenne pepper.

Chuao Chocolatier, which is based in Carlsbad with several cafes in San Diego as well as Irvine and Miami, was started in 2002 by Venezuelan brothers Michael and Richard Antonorsi. The two had first come to San Diego in the ‘80s to attend UCSD. Michael studied biomedical engineering and Richard computer sciences. They returned to Venezuela and launched businesses in networking and telecommunications.

Michael, however, always wanted to cook, so at age 38, he took off to Paris with his wife and kids to follow his dream, enrolling first in the École Supéríeure de Cuísíne Francaíse Ferrandi and then the École Lenotre, where he was trained as a pastry and chocolaterie chef. “The French are the architects of food,” he says.

Because the brothers already owned property in San Diego and Richard was married to a San Diegan, they decided to return to the area to start a chocolate business, using Venezuelan chocolate, of course, with Michael as chef and Richard running the business. The business started with a small shop in Encinitas and has expanded to include several cafes; a thriving wholesale, corporate gift and online business; and even hands-on bonbon making classes at their Carlsbad headquarters.

“At the time, there was nothing here but See’s Candies and Godiva,” says Michael. “There were no traditions in chocolate here so we were free to think outside of the box and take advantage of the exposure here of so many cultures. Since I’m a chef and that’s my passion, I want to push the limit all the time, crossing over with ingredients.

“Our vision is to arouse the senses with unusual and unexpected chocolates that are delicious,” he explains. “I find chocolate incredibly satisfying. Women love it. Men who have developed their feminine side love it. It’s truly sensorial and connects deeply with people.”

My connection began at their cafe in University Towne Centre with the luxurious Spicy Maya hot chocolate. It’s deeply rich and thick. Sensuously chocolate, wrapped in a velvety heat sans the pain. It made a chilly day more than tolerable.

The café has a variety of drinks, including bittersweet Abuela hot chocolate, Caramelo, espresso drinks, tea, blended frappuccinos and chocolate milk. Chuao Chocolatier also has a pastry chef, who works with Michael to develop a number of exotic pastries. There’s a flourless wild truffle cake, flourless chocolate cake and the deeply dark Black Magic—coffee mousse over chocolate rum cake topped with a bittersweet chocolate glaze and dipped in caramelized cocoa nibs.

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I wanted a heart, so I took home a “Love Letter”—a blackberry tea mousse on a ginger shortbread cookie, all topped with a dark chocolate glaze. Light and airy, the pastry is beautiful to look at and a wonderful counterpoint to rich meal.

Along with the café, is a shop filled with all things chocolate. Little packages of treats, large exotic bars, cacao powder, chocolate nuts, froufrou Valentine’s Day gifts and elegant wine-tasting boxes that pair chocolate with wine. The store sells small bags of "coco nibs" for snacking, as a topping on ice cream or other desserts or even as part of a marinade for steak.

And, they have a whole section dedicated to hot chocolate, with Bodum hot chocolate jugs, traditional wooden hot chocolate whisks called molinillos and, of course, packages of their various hot chocolate mixes, including a customer favorite, Winter hot chocolate, that blends bittersweet chocolate with ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and pepper.

Finally, there’s the tremendous selection of truffles and bonbons on display that you can choose from to create a unique box. Some are caramel filled, others with rich ganache or buttery cream, with nuts and fruits and intriguing spices.

The flavors that Michael Antonorsi has played with come off beautifully. The Cacique dark chocolate bonbon, filled with California raisin and rum dark chocolate ganache was a favorite. The unusual flavors melded naturally with the chocolate. I also enjoyed the Framboise, a layered hazelnut almond praline and raspberry “pate de fruit.”

In the fun and frivolous department is a terrific surprise—the Firecracker confection. Offer one to a friend and watch the reaction to the first bite. There’s quite literally an explosion in the mouth, thanks to the popping candy that envelops the mixture of caramel fudge, chipotle chile and salt.

“You have to stay in the world of chocolate,” says Michael. “I’ve done stuff with garlic and rosemary. It’s tasty but confusing. So what can we use that respects the chocolate but also respects the spectrum of people’s experience, that would make you want to repeat the experience? It’s a way of offering chocolate entertainment that creates a connection.”

Chuao Chocolatier has several locations:

The Lumberyard, 937 S. Coast Highway 101, Suite C-109 in Encinitas

Del Mar Highlands Shopping Center, 3485 Del Mar Heights Rd, Suite A-1 in Del Mar

Forum at Carlsbad, 1935 Calle Barcelona in Carlsbad

Spectrum Shopping Center, 95 Fortune Drive, Suite 603 in Irvine

University Towne Centre, 4465 La Jolla Village Dr. H-09 in San Diego

70 Miracle Mile in Coral Gables - Miami, FL

Coupa Café, 538 Ramona Street in Palo Alto

Coupa Café, 419 N Canon Drive in Beverly Hills

Have some thoughts about Chuao Chocolatier or other artisan chocolatiers in San Diego? Do you have a favorite neighborhood market or shop that carries unique or unusual foodstuff? Let me know or add to the conversation by clicking on comments below:

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Related Feature

It's Election Day! Vote for Caron in the Death by Chocolate Blog Competition

It's Super Tuesday! As long as you're in a voting frame of mind, how about heading over to the wonderful food zine, Culinate, and cast your vote for me/San Diego Foodstuff in their Death by Chocolate blog competition. It'll take just a couple of minutes and you'll discover a great new site in the process. The contest closes Feb. 8.

And, get yourself to your local polling place today--Tuesday--to vote in that other election!

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Sunday, February 3, 2008

Caron Guest Blogs on Sensational Color

Color maven Kate Smith recently asked me to guest blog on her sensational web site, Sensational Color. Flattered, I, of course, agreed to do it, but what to write about?

Inspiration for a topic hit while I was making dinner later that week, waiting for the shrimp I had just tossed into a simmering pot of tomato sauce to turn from steel gray to pink, at which point I'd know the dish was ready to eat. Aha. Color teaches us how to cook; it gives us direction in the kitchen.

Here's the piece.

How does color influence you when it comes to food? Click on the comments link below.

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