Posts Tagged ‘Chocolate online’

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.

Chicago Hot Dog StandVienna 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.

Chicago-Style Hot DogThe 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!

A True Chicago InstitutionFor 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.

PastramiAt 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. Cheesecake on a StickHere, 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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