Archive for July, 2009

The Chicago Dog

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique

I usually don’t write about other foods or food companies as this blog is supposed to be all about Choclatique and chocolate. As much as I would like to think it does, the world does not only revolve around Choclatique and chocolate. There are other great American food companies that make really fantastic foods. So this week, let’s take a peek at the center of the plate.

Vienna Beef of Chicago makes American hot dogs and beef products to exacting standards just the way many other American artisans make their American-made foods. I spent a day in Chicago last week with the people at Vienna Beef. If you travel to Chicago often you will know them as the Chicago Dog company. They make the best hot dogs I have ever tasted. So much so, that my first day in Chicago must consist of at least one Chicago Dog—a true Chicago institution. And, it’s got to be a Vienna.

The Chicago-Style hot dog got its start from street cart hot dog vendors during the hard times of the Great Depression. Money was scarce, but business was booming for these entrepreneurs who offered a delicious hot meal on a bun for only a nickel. The famous Chicago Style Hot Dog was born!

For those of you who have been deprived in life and have never partaken of this culinary masterpiece, start with a Vienna Beef hot dog, nestle it in a steamed poppy seed bun and cover it with a wonderful combination of toppings: yellow mustard; bright green (glow-in-the-dark) relish; fresh, chopped onions; juicy red tomato wedges; a kosher-style pickle spear; a couple of spicy sport peppers; and finally, a dash of celery salt. This unique hot dog creation with a “salad on top” and its memorable interplay of hot and cold, crisp and soft, sharp and smooth may very well be America’s original fast food.

I had a chance to take a plant tour and discover many of their “secrets.” Well, not so much secrets, but points of difference from other hot dog makers. First of all they use fresh meat, not frozen boxed beef like most hot dog makers—expensive cuts of brisket (lean and fat)—blended with lean bull meat at pre-determined ratios to give the meat the right mix of meat-to-fat and the right “bite.” The meat is then ground and blended with their 116 year old secret blend of spices which is completely true to the original recipe brought over from Europe years ago. It is then stuffed into a natural casing which gives this hot dog its distinctive, crisp bite.

At the end of the tour I tasted Hot Dogs, Polish Sausages, Fire Dogs and Chili—really great chili. There were also soups, corned beef and pastrami, rare roast beef, salami and kosher-style pickles… oh, and some really great, whole-muscle, smoked turkey slices.

If you’re looking for more great American foods you can find them on the Vienna’s new website and catalogue store, Foods Across America, featuring regional American foods of like-minded manufacturers. Here, on one website, you can find the world’s greatest Chicago “Dawg” kit (I know it supposed to be spelled ‘DOG,” but I just like the way that sounds), the very best key lime pie, hand-crafted root beers and believe it or not, cheesecake on a stick. I bought some of the goodies on the site and found the packaging to be great for shipping and the delivery to be excellent. So I wanted to say some good things to help every one of our readers know that there is something really neat and new that they need to try.

By the way, I did put in a pitch for them to include some Choclatique chocolate… regionally speaking I thought the new Choclatique Napa Valley Wine Chocolates would be a perfect addition to their offerings. So if you decide to go to their site and buy one of their really unique All-American Kits, think about going over to choclatique.com for Authentically American Chocolates.

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Going to the Dark Side

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique

I was asked to do an interview this morning with Professional Candy Buyer Magazine to discuss dark chocolate. Ask anyone—dark chocolate is the “feel-good” food of the decade. What could be better? It tastes great and has enough serotonin and caffeine to lift your mood, spirits and attitude any time of the day.

One thing the reporter should have been told prior to our meeting is, “Don’t ask Ed any open-ended questions about chocolate.” And, of course her first question was, “What do you think about ‘dark chocolate’?” Wow… off I went.

First of all, I love great dark chocolate. More to the point, I love Choclatique dark chocolate. We have several choices of the deep, dark goodness… they include:

  • Private Reserve Dark Chocolate (64%)
  • Ebony Dark Chocolate (72%)
  • Elephant—Seriously Strong Chocolate (76%)
  • Q-91 (91%)
  • Single Origin Dark Chocolates from, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Madagascar, Columbian and real American Hawaiian Dark Chocolate (all at 65%)

What’s the difference? Where do I begin?

  • Private Reserve Dark ChocolatePrivate Reserve Dark Chocolate (64%) is “reserved” for our terrific couverture for our boxed chocolate and for Ingots, Tablets and Tapestries. Private Reserve is made from 17 equatorial beans grown from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn. They are fermented, dried and roasted to perfection. This chocolate is conched (blended) to an ultra-smooth texture for 72 hours at precise temperatures to bring out the natural, dark, fruity flavor of the cacao bean.
  • Ebony Dark ChocolateEbony Dark Chocolate (72%) is a very intense, bittersweet chocolate used primarily for making pastry—very intense chocolate cakes, pies and puddings. It is much sharper than our Private Reserve Dark Chocolate and is not particularly suited for making truffles and other confections. It is the ultimate chocolate-lovers’ baking chocolate.
  • Elephant—Seriously Strong Dark Chocolate (76%) is mind-blowing in its complexity, rivaling all of the high percentage cacao chocolates from the European legacy chocolate makers. Elephant ChocolateElephant Chocolate is a harmonious mélange of Criollo and Trinitario beans, bringing out the light floral aromas of ripe cherry and the essence of raisin top notes. There are deep chocolate layers punctuated by the complex flavors of tart citrus, red fruit and roasted walnut and almond notes. The mild but complex aroma gives way to the intense flavor of Elephant Chocolate. This full-bodied, very intense chocolate is smooth on the palate with a long, bittersweet finish. The elephant-shaped chocolate is a deep, dark red-brown, with an incredibly perfect glossy finish, so that the chocolate appears to glow. This is a chocolate for eating, not for baking. It has flavors and textures you won’t soon forget.
  • Q-91Choclatique Q-91 is our super-dark, bittersweet premium chocolate high in cacao mass. One of the most pleasant effects of eating Q-91 chocolate is the “euphoric feeling” that many people experience after indulging. Q-91 chocolate contains more than 300 known beneficial compounds. Scientists can’t yet explain some of the pleasurable effects of consuming chocolate, but they’re working on it.

Recent medical research has linked the antioxidants found in cacao—the fruit from which dark chocolate is made—to decreases in blood pressure and reductions of “bad” cholesterol levels. Chocolate is a known stimulant and is also thought to be an aphrodisiac. The darker the chocolate the richer it is in flavanols which many physicians and nutritionists say are beneficial to your health.

The small amount of caffeine found in chocolate (1.4 oz of chocolate = 1 cup of decaf coffee) combined with Theobromine, a weak stimulant also present in chocolate, provides the “lift” that chocolate eaters experience. Although no conclusive proof exists yet, Phenylethylamine is reputed to be a mood elevator and an anti-depressant.

Scientists are still developing their opinions on the health benefits of dark chocolate. It is probably not a good idea to replace your daily intake of fruits and vegetables with a 6-layer frosted chocolate cake—whether dark or milk chocolate, but the research has certainly reduced the stigma of a moderate daily chocolate habit.

Assorted IngotsHow can you judge chocolatier and the quality of their chocolate? Savor the flavor of their chocolate; no fillings, just chocolate. Trying a bag of our Assorted Ingots is a great way to get to know our chocolate. Give them a try and let us know what you think.

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Pal Joey

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique

I love doing radio. I have had several of my own shows over the years from Stump the Chef and The Food Show to The Super Foodies (no cape or tights involved!). My partner, Joan, co-hosted with me on the last two.

Occasionally we were asked to sub for the overnight guys at KABC in Los Angeles. Overnight talk radio is something else. It brings out all of the late night wackos. So when I was asked be on The Joey Reynolds show the first time, well… I was a bit skeptical.

Then I discovered that Joey Reynolds is the true leader of The Royal Order of the Night People. He’s “Mr. Nice Guy” from coast-to-coast, where his show is the absolute king of the night.

Joey Reynolds

Joey Reynolds

Joey rose to national fame as a Top 40-radio personality, and many leading authorities in radio think of Joey as the person who invented shock talk radio. A few years ago, he was the focus of a two-part series on the Oprah Winfrey Show about radio talk personalities. Joey was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland for his accomplishments in radio, television, and music.

Today, his unique style of radio-TV personality is a bit more mellow, but he is still able to attract and maintain huge and phenomenally loyal audiences in such markets as New York, Denver and Philadelphia. His radio shows sparkle with a rare and wonderfully sharp, spontaneous wit and his guests are truly legendary. So, I’m always delighted when I am in New York to be invited back to the show… perhaps not so much for my sparking personality as much as for our wonderful Choclatique Chocolate.

This last time I was on the show was the night that Michael Jackson passed away. The first guest of the evening was Ron Luxemburg, former president of Epic Records who was responsible for the Jackson cross-over career. The story that Ron told was that Barry Gordy actually agreed to let Michael leave Motown because he saw the singer’s great potential as a cross-over artist.

And then Joan and I were on. Now, that’s a tough act to follow on a very sad night, but from that moment on, it was all about Choclatique. The one really great thing about being on with Joey and producer, Myra Chanin, is that I never have to toot my own horn. I just feed them all chocolate and let Joey, Myra and all of the other guests talk about Choclatique Chocolate all night long.

We had planned to talk about our new Choclatique Moon Rocks Collection in celebration of man’s first walk on the moon 40 years ago this month, but because of the untimely death of Michael Jackson we dedicated the assortment—for that night only—to “The Moon Walker” himself—M.J.

It’s always a treat to be on with the king… the real King of Overnight Radio… my pal Joey.

Joan Vieweger, Joey Reynolds, Ed Engoron and Myra Chanin on the overnighter Joey Reynolds Show, WOR, New York

Joan Vieweger, Joey Reynolds, Ed Engoron and Myra Chanin on the overnighter Joey Reynolds Show, WOR, New York

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The "Fancy Pants" of Food Shows

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique

The New York Summer Fancy Foods Show

Fancy Food ShowSince 1955, the Fancy Food Shows, produced by the NASFT (The National Association for the Specialty Food Trade) in both New York (summer) and California (winter) are North America’s largest specialty food and beverage marketplaces.

This is where roughly 24,000 attendees go to taste and consider new products including confections, cheese, coffee, snacks, spices, ethnic, natural, organic and, of course, chocolate. This year, in New York, there were over 2,300 exhibitors—including Choclatique—from about 80 countries.

It is a place that retailers go to discover what’s new and innovative in the world of food and beverage products. These attendees come to see thousands of exhibitors from all over the globe. Most are passionate entrepreneurs like Joan and me who have created their own recipes and started their own companies. At this show you can learn about these trend-setting businesses and watch them sell to decision-makers as they showcase more than 250,000 innovative products.

The International Pavilions are very exciting, presenting exotic new specialty foods from all over the world—some seldom seen in the U.S. There are also dozens of seminars, workshops, tours, tastings, cooking classes and special events at each show.

This year Choclatique released 8 new products for consideration to the retail trade.

These included:

  • Moon Rocks Chocolate—celebrating the 40th anniversary of man’s first walk on the moon. With galactic flavors such as Apollo Almond and Cosmic Caramel Crunch, these delicious confections boldly go where no chocolate has gone before.
  • The Jewel Box Collection—rare and beautiful confections designed to represent the finely-crafted precious and semi-precious birthstones that have engaged mankind from the beginning of time.
  • Napa Valley Wine Chocolates—available in eight amazing varieties including Late Harvest Cabernet Chocolate, Fall Vineyard Merlot Chocolate, Estate Chardonnay Chocolate, Sparkling Blanc Chocolate, Old Oak Barrel-Aged Port Chocolate, First-Crush Fume Blanc Chocolate, Zinfandel Cuvée Chocolate, and Pretty in Pink “Blush” Chocolate.
  • Elephant—Seriously Strong Chocolate (76%)—mind-blowing in its complexity, rivaling many of the high percentage cacao chocolates from the European legacy chocolate makers. It’s comparable to chocolates with higher cacao content. Elephant Chocolate shows off Choclatique’s mastery of chocolate blending. It is a harmonious mélange of Criollo and Trinitario beans that brings out the light floral aromas of ripe cherry and the essence of raisin top notes. There are deep chocolate layers punctuated by the complex flavors of tart citrus, red fruit and roasted walnut and almond notes.
  • Peanut Brittle Bites—an abundance of U.S. grown, Spanish-style red-skin peanuts and a perfectly-cooked buttery sugar brittle.
  • Chocolate-Covered Peanut Brittle Bites—a twist on the original, with the addition of Choclatique’s Prestige Milk Chocolate (32%) coating, and crushed peanuts for a texture that is as great as the taste.
  • Chocolate-Almond Butter Toffee Bites—a blend of pure Hawaiian cane sugar, dairy-fresh butter and real vanilla all covered in our Choclatique Private Reserve Dark Chocolate (64%), and sprinkled with ground, oven-roasted California almonds, toasted cocoa nibs and Saigon cinnamon.
  • Pure Power—100% Gluten-Free Power Bar—a delicious, high protein (9.5g) peanut bar that is chock-full of U.S.A. grown Virginia peanuts and all natural ingredients that are commonly found in your own pantry.

New York Summer 2009 Fancy Food Show

Joan Vieweger and Ed Engoron at the New York Summer Fancy Food Show 2009

We handed out nearly 5,000 pieces of chocolate over 3 days and talked to over 400 key retailer buyers, brokers and distributors, many of whom will now begin to carry Choclatique products.

So, now is the time to start planning your personal and corporate Christmas gifts—all the retail buyers are!

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A Tribute to Grandmother Fanny and Her Almond Butter Toffee Crunch

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique

Grandmother Fanny

After writing about Grandpa Max a few weeks back my bother Roy suggested that I write about my mother’s mother.

Grandmother Fanny lived on the top floor of a 5-story walk-up in Brooklyn, New York. She was a tiny lady, not even 5 feet tall, but she was a wonderful cook, baker and candy maker who made the most delicious butter toffee crunch that you ever tasted. Nobody could do it better. It seemed like she was able to squeeze 5 pounds of butter into a 1 pound slab of her ever-popular butter toffee crunch. The way it crunched between your teeth and melted in your mouth was a taste of ecstasy.

The only one who had a copy of the recipe was my cousin Elliot who had hovered over Fanny and copied everything she did one afternoon while she was making her magic concoction.

Elliot was kind enough to share this recipe with me when we decided to make butter toffee crunch at Choclatique. We faithfully use Fanny’s original old-fashioned butter toffee crunch recipe as a base for our Chocolate-Almond Butter Toffee Bites.

We start with Hawaiian-grown pure cane sugar, double score dairy-fresh butter and rich, pure, extra-strong real vanilla. We use our signature dark chocolate—Choclatique Private Reserve (64%), fresh oven-roasted California almonds, roasted cocoa nibs and just a touch of Saigon cinnamon to cover our rich, butter toffee crunch. Nothing has changed since Fanny first made her first batch back in the 1930’s.

Our traditional Chocolate-Almond Butter Toffee Bites are packaged in a chocolate brown ballotin box and double sealed for freshness. They make the perfect melt-in-you-mouth gift or party favor and they’re a wonderful delicious treat any time of day.

Here’s a cheer to you Grandmother Fanny.

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