When you bill yourself as the chocolate with “the vision and energy of a Silicon Valley start-up,” you gotta beta-test. And indeed, in coming up with the proprietary blend of beans to put in their “fruity”, “nutty” and “citrusy” bars, TCHO beta-tested the bejeezus out of them over the course of a year. If you’re interested in what your fellow human beings find best captures these qualities in chocolate, stop by Provisions this Sunday, June 14 from 4pm-6pm when we’ll be providing free tastes. We are skeptical only because they also beta-tested the bar that they labeled “chocolatey.” But wait, aren’t they all . . . oh, well, nevermind.
In other beta-testing news, in the Manhattan store we are doing a trial run with a new web-based point of sale system powered by ShopKeep. They’re accepting new stores for beta-testing now, check it out!
Fabulous Fort Greene fashionista and foodie, Nyisha, the owner of Sugar Lily Bakeshop, found a way to combine her two passions by making couture cupcakes. Handmade, down to the decorative fondant that adorns their tops, we get them every weekend and they quickly sell out. For Mother’s Day weekend, we’ve asked Nyisha to include her signature decorative lace wrapping to make these cupcakes extra special. Lest you think their beauty is only skin deep, rest assured the cupcakes are made with the highest quality ingredients and, in flavors like strawberries and cream, lemon coconut and orange blossom, are indulgently delicious. We can’t think of a better gift for Mother’s Day!
Gianduja (or gianduia) is chocolate made with 50% hazelnut paste – and is the inspiration behind Nutella. Even more inspired, Ben Van Leeuwen – of the Van Leeuwen ice cream truck that should soon appear on the streets of NYC – has tried to capture this flavor in an ice cream. We’ve got Leeuwen’s ice creams in pints in the store right here in Fort Greene so there’s no reason to chase down the truck with a fistful of dollars.
You will find no chunks or streaks of chocolate here. The flavor of Michel Cluizel chocolate and rich Piedmont hazelnuts are blended through, making a creamy flavor and texture that hints at its inspiration without being overpowering. We find Ben’s ice creams to be adult ice creams – not overly sweet but possessing that creamy, dense, rich, fresh goodness that appeals to the kid in all of us. As if it couldn’t get any better, the ingredients he uses are good for you: hormone-free milk from farmers he knows in Lewis County at the foot of the Adirondacks in New York, egg yolks and sugar. No stabilizers, no emulsifiers or preservatives.
Last week we were invited to be on Brooklyn Independent Television’s Reporter Roundtable with Betsy Devine, one of the founders of Salvatore Brooklyn Ricotta, and Carl Hum, CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce to discuss the state of gourmet food and artisanal food production in Brooklyn. The video can be found here and might be of interest to anyone interested in starting their own food business.
Betsy and her partner, Rachel Mark, were inspired to make Salvatore Brooklyn Ricotta after traveling in Italy and meeting an enoteca proprietor named Salvatore who made his own ricotta. Having never tasted ricotta so fresh, they returned to Brooklyn and tried to replicate it. Betsy and Rachel use fresh whole cow’s milk from Hudson Valley Fresh and fresh lemon juice. Hudson Valley Fresh is a cooperative using sustainable principles and does not use rBST or rBGH. Their attention to quality ingredients makes their ricotta creamy and pillowy with a zesty citrus undertone.
Betsy recommends her ricotta served simply on a baguette with olive oil. You could also use a drizzle of one of our honeys. On air, we mentioned we use it in our son’s favorite easy-to-make ricotta cheesecake pie. So here’s the recipe! Note we used a pre-packaged graham cracker pie crust so there’s no need to break out a springform pan.
Ricotta Cheesecake Pie
1 cup (8 oz.) ricotta cheese
1 (8 oz.) package of neufchatel or cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place filling ingredients in a bowl and beat on high for about a minute or until liquefied. Pour into graham cracker crust.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool 30 minutes at room temperature. Then refrigerate until well chilled, about 6 to 8 hours.
This Sunday, March 29 from 2-5 pm we welcome Taza chocolate to Greene Grape Provisions. They’ll provide tastes of their stone-ground chocolate, a small-batch bean-to-bar chocolate made in Massachusetts.
“Bean to bar” is gaining traction these days because it allows chocolatiers like Taza more control over how the cocoa beans are grown and how fairly the farmers are compensated for it. Taza buys cocoa beans according to slow food sourcing principles, pays a fair price, and seeks organically and biodynamically grown beans.
Buying at the bean level also allows Taza control over how the cocoa beans are roasted and turned into a bar. Taza lightly roasts its beans and then grinds them with antique Mexican stone mills. This historical method of production isn’t just quaint – the stone mills create a rougher grind that preserves the great range of fruity and nutty flavors found in the cocoa bean. If you’re used to a very sweet, processed chocolate, this may be surprising. Taza suggests that their chocolate be thought of as food, not candy. In today’s economic times, that might not be too far off the mark – chocolate now somehow seems essential to daily life.
This recipe couldn’t be easier. Our 4 year old used a whisk to mix the batter himself and dropped chocolate chips on top of his crepe while it was cooking. Our 7 year old prefers her crepes with a squeeze of lemon (reminder: meyer lemons are still in season) and a sprinkle of sugar. You can also fill with nutella or slice up fresh strawberries and top with a dollop of whipped cream or drizzle with honey.
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon melted butter
Mix the milk, flour, eggs, sugar and vanilla with a wire whisk or electric mixer. Add the butter and continue mixing until the batter is thin and smooth. Heat a frying pan until droplets of water “dance” on it. Pour 1/3 cup of batter into the pan (or enough so that when you swirl the pan around, the entire bottom is coated). Tilt the pan until the batter coats the entire bottom – you have to do this part quickly or you’ll be left with a thicker pancake and not a thin crepe. When the crepe bubbles and the edges look dry, peel it up and flip it over. If you’re using chocolate chips for the filling, now is the time to add them. Cook for another few minutes until the other side is done then fold over and serve. Unused batter can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of days.
NY Mag recently profiled 7 local chocolatiers in anticipation of Valentine’s Day and we have 3 of them in the store (Nunu, Fine & Raw and Vere) for your Valentine’s pleasure.
We’ve previously profiled Vere and Nunu and are tasting them in the Brooklyn wine store tonight from 5-7pm along with some port wines from New York, California and, of course, Portugal. Fine & Raw is a new addition to our chocolate lineup. Handmade in Brooklyn and sweetened with agave, they are ideal for your vegan valentine. Dense and intense, they will also please a meat-eatin’ sweetie.
Save the Date! Daniel Sklaar, the maker of Fine & Raw, will visit Greene Grape Provisions on February 20 from 6-8 pm to provide tastes of his remarkable chocolates.
This Saturday, February 14 from 5-7pm in the Brooklyn wine store, we’ll be tasting Magpie Meadery’s Honey Mead and Elderberry Mead. The tasting is free!
Magpie Farms in Bainbridge, New York lovingly produces handcrafted mead, a wine associated with medieval times made from fermented honey instead of fermented grapes. Some wines simply sweetened by honey pass for mead, but are not the real deal. Steve Merr, a.k.a. Magpie, the meadmaker and owner of Magpie Farms, is committed to excellence. His mead, made from 100% honey from his own un-genetically altered bee hives, contains no preservatives. The fruits he uses to flavor the meads are grown either on his farm or on farms of his neighbors. Magpie’s meads boast food-friendly acidity and alluring secondary aromas of nuts and caramel. You’ve got to try these to experience just how good mead can be when crafted with passion.
Join us in the Brooklyn wine store on Friday, February 13 from 5-7pm when we sample Nunu chocolates and three kinds of port. Port and chocolate are a classic pairing and we’re thrilled at the opportunity to showcase our Nunu chocolates.
Nunu Chocolates are handmade in Brooklyn by Justine Pringle. She uses a single-origin cocoa bean grown on a family-run farm in eastern Colombia to craft her delicious chocolates. Our favorite is the salt caramel – it deliciously combines sweet and salty flavors and is even adorned with flakes of salt. Caramel sans extra salt comes in the beautiful package of her Golden Caramel Butterflies. We’ll be pairing Justine’s chocolates with Charbay ruby port, Infantado tawny port and Blueberry port from Duckwalk vineyards.
The Brooklyn wine store is at 765 Fulton Street in Fort Greene, Brooklyn 718.797.9463. Nunu chocolates are available at the food store, Greene Grape Provisions, at 753 Fulton Street in Fort Greene, Brooklyn 718.233.2700.
The good news? None of the peanut butters we sell are affected by the recent FDA recall. The better news? Our peanut butters are delicious! One of our favorites is Cream-Nut, produced in Western Michigan by the Koeze family since 1910 and now being made by the grandson of the founder. Their peanut butters are made in small batches from selected Virginia peanuts and are coarse ground with just a pinch of salt. That’s it. No artificial colors, preservatives, or sugar, and never homogenized. And you’re never too old for a peanut butter sandwich.
Cream-Nut Dark Chocolate Clusters
With Valentine’s Day coming up, you should also check out Cream-Nut’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Clusters. A rich, silky peanut butter and white chocolate center on a bed of fresh pecans, coated in fine dark chocolate. If you’re lucky enough to get them as a gift, hide them. They are addictive and won’t last long.