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BonBonBar 2010 Holiday Newsletter… Blogged

Saturday, February 6th, 2010
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Hello,

Happy Holidays!  Even though I have been quiet on the newsletter front, it has been busy at BonBonBar.

The most exciting news is that I have been hard at work writing a cookbook! It is called Beautiful Candymaking, and it is due out in the Fall of 2011 through Sterling Publishing.  The book will feature my take on a wide range of candy recipes — from toffee to fudge to caramel corn — along with candymaking tips/techniques and gorgeous photography courtesy of The White on Rice Couple.

After developing so many recipes for the book, I thought that it would be a good idea to recharge and seek new inspiration for the company’s confections.  So, BonBonBar will be closed from December 23 to February 1 as I eat my way around France, Italy, Brazil, and California.  I am looking forward to returning with refreshed ideas for new products, but it most likely also means that, unfortunately, some candies will be rotated out in the new year.

As always, thank you so much for your support and enthusiasm.  Happy customers have always been my favorite part of this BonBonBar adventure, and you have given me the amazing opportunity to run a truly artisan food company that will be going into its fourth year. I am grateful, and lucky.

All the best for a happy and sweet holiday season, and I hope that BonBonBar treats will be a part of it!

Thank  you!

Nina

Founder & Chief Chocolatier,BonBonBar

MORE BONBONBAR NEWS

So far, our candy bars are being featured in Fine Cooking, DailyCandy, and The Huffington Post’s 2010 holiday gift guides.

If you would like to place your holiday orders in advance of when you would like them to ship, please let us know in the comments of the order.

All orders placed during the break will ship after February 1.

Sweet San Francisco

Friday, August 28th, 2009

In a few days, I’ll be driving up to take up my new residence in San Francisco, and relocating Sweet Napa for the second time.

So… why am I moving?   I think that the short answer is:  as much as I’ve tried, I can’t conceive of a future for myself in LA.  I think that BonBonBar as it is would best flourish as a storefront supplemented with web orders, but the thought of anchoring myself to a storefront in LA and driving through LA traffic to get there every day depressed me more than it excited me.  I was able to work practically non-stop on BonBonBar because there was little else I wanted to do in LA — or at least, little else I wanted to do that would justify so much time in traffic and smog.  And after Chad and I broke up in June, it seemed like a good time to call a hiatus and choose a new place to live.  It was tempting to stay through the holidays given that this year has been so busy so far, but then Valentine’s Day would be right around the corner, and then Easter, and then… and then… another year would go by in limbo.  Once I started to think about how nice — how pretty normal — it would be to reside in a place where I would think about living rather than leaving, it was hard to stop.

I kept telling people that “I just don’t want to live in a big city anymore.”  I went to Google Maps quite a few times just to zoom out on a map of the US.  I could live anywhere I wanted.  Anywhere!  I tried to imagine what life would be like here or there.  I considered new places and familiar places.  I thought a lot about Montana (Bozeman!).  And Wyoming. And giving in to my perpetual whim to live in a cabin in Maine. I thought about flying back up to Seattle for the second time ever to check it out more in depth.  Or maybe New York or New Jersey, to be closer to my family.

I actually flew to the Rockies to scout out Utah and Colorado ski areas.  I particularly loved the beauty of Aspen, but I thought that my wintertime ski antics would be cramped by the very real, very snowy winter… which would mean limited local, fresh food that I could work with.

That sunk in.  It’s somewhat arbitrary that California happens to be an enormous state with so many different climates so it’s easy for us claim such an awe-inspiring variety of “local” food year-round, but still… there’s a lot of good food grown around here that is best fresh — and can be used to great effect in sweets.

So, yes. Seriously.  I came to California for the film industry in 2002, and I stayed for the citrus in 2009.

I thought about Berkeley.  I drove up to check it out more, but the possibility of something happening in SF and having to commute made me start to think about SF more.  When I saw that there are apartments to rent in the Presidio in San Francisco, I felt like I’d found the perfect compromise between rural and urban life — I would get to live in national park while living in a city.  So… here goes!

Though don’t get me wrong — I know that that there’s so much great food across the country.  But the thought of turning 30 soon and moving to an entirely new — and possibly remote — place alone with a business based on fresh ingredients to think of was a slightly scary one.   So it made a difference that I already know Northern California and its people a bit.   SF seems so full of energy and fun, and it just thrills me to drive around Marin, Sonoma, and Napa.  And there’s also still so much that I don’t know about the area, and I get exciting just thinking about having the opportunity to explore more.  Of course, I am very familiar with the sometimes harsh realities of Bay Area traffic, but I don’t think that it’s as bad.

I really do hate to turn my back in LA because I think it’s often unfairly criticized.   When I moved back to LA in 2007 from Napa, I was ambivalent about the city.  I spent the better part of my first year in our apartment researching and testing recipes for BonBonBar, partially as a way to avoid the people and congestion that I’d left in 2005 after working in the film industry.  But as I experimented with different ingredients, I realized that the food and farmers markets here are fantastic.  I learned so much from the Santa Monica Farmers Market; it was like a second culinary school.  And when I launched the business and when I started selling at farmers markets myself, I met so many amazing people who have influenced me for the better and who I’ll never forget.  So, in a sad-but-happy way, I can say that when I leave LA this time, I’ll miss the people.

I honestly am not sure what will happen with BonBonBar yet.  I’ve been so touched by how many people have taken the company to heart and have gone so far out of their way to help it/me that I feel awful about putting it on hold; I can’t help feeling like I’ve let them down.  But I think I need to know more about conditions in SF before I make any decisions about restarting, and since I can’t know more until I move up there, I’ll have to wait and see.  I know I’m curious…

BonBonBars in DailyCandy

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

The Los Angeles edition of DailyCandy is featuring my candy bars in Monday’s article! You can check it out here. (and in a cosmic coincidence, “Chad” is in the title of their NY article… so “shake your bonbon” and “pull your chad” at will)

And I’ll post more substantive posts soon. I have so many thoughts swirling around and so much happening that I really need to sit down and organize them… and not be so easily mollified by the outlet of Facebook status updates. 🙂

California Tart Company – Los Angeles

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

Ok… even just writing the title of this post has given me a tart craving.

I have the fantastic fortune to sell BonBonBars next to the California Tart Company at the Brentwood Farmers Market on Sunday mornings. Right now, it’s a two-person company: Evelyn heads up the baking side more while Roberto heads up the sales side more.

Their products are savory tarts — most modeled after the Italian torta pasqualina — as well as sweet tarts. And the tarts are just my style: lots of delicious filling encased by a thin layer of rather lean dough. There are 2.5 cups of vegetables in every tart. The vegetables are allowed to shine as the often farmers market-fresh stars that they are; unlike so many prepared vegetables available for sale in stores and restaurants, they are not drenched in oil or smothered in a rich filling. These tarts are really about feeling good — you feel good when you buy them (b/c Roberto and Evelyn are wonderful to chat with and b/c they’re fairly priced at $6.50), while you’re eating them because they’re delicious… and afterwards because you feel nourished, not stuffed…

Here’s a sampling…

Spinach & Pea Tart, “a taste of Liguria”

Leek & Brie Tart, more of a French-style

Oh, and there’s this landscape of porcini and assorted mushrooms, over caramelized shallots, sprinkled with thyme….

There’s also an amazing Zucchini, Basil, & Parmesan Tart, “with the feel of Positano.”

Although I should know better, I still work under the delusion that I can last through the whole Brentwood market without eating, but it is a 6 hr market and I often end up scoffing a cold tart down at some point, which gets earlier and earlier every time, because it’s too good to put off. But if I wait (or act brilliantly and buy multiple tarts), their full flavors are really unleashed after being heated up in the oven for a few minutes… Add a salad and a glass of wine, and it’s an even more perfect meal…

Especially since you can keep the party going with one of their dessert tarts…

This is their Pear & Chocolate Tart… DO YOU SEE ALL THAT CHOCOLATE???

This post may overflow with dithering admiration, but you see, I barely buy pre-made food anymore — it’s so rarely good and so often over-priced and needlessly fatty. I’m so grateful to have access to their tarts because they’re exactly what I would want to make for myself at home. They focus on the good stuff.

For now, they’re selling to the lucky customers at the Brentwood Market and the Manhattan Beach Market on Tuesdays… but the word “store” has come up. And in the meantime, they do catering, too.

A Perfect Fig

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

Just felt like sharing. I got a whole bag of them from the Brentwood Farmers Market on Sunday.