Archive for the 'Provence' Category

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.

L’Escale – Marseille

Monday, October 9th, 2006
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Bouillabaisse. For our last meal in France, we drove to the village of Les Goudes on the outskirts of Marseille to have this glorious bouillabaisse. You must order at least a day ahead, because it is prepared especially for you, based on what is caught the morning of your dinner.

But let me back up…

I’d read up on Marseille before our trip, but without the local savvy of Brigitte and her family, we wouldn’t have known about — much less experienced — L’Escale and its bouillabaisse. So, I’m happy that I can let my readers know about it in the same way that we were so lucky to have our hospitable friends in Provence introduce us to it. They also helped find an automatic rental minivan that seated 7 (a rare gem that eluded my search) and arranged other pre-trip logistics. I wish that my French language could be as skilled as their English, but I can say “merci beaucoup!” and know that I’m speaking for the rest of my family, and Chad, as well.

So… back to the restaurant… Or rather, this luxurious view from our outdoor table…

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I started off with a delicately floral Violet Kir Royale. And I love the glass. It’s somehow ripe.

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Bouillabaisse is usually served in two stages. First, the broth is brought out and poured over bread that you rub with garlic and spread with toppings, such as rouille.

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It was so good that we had two servings of this. You would expect that such a soup that takes all day to prepare will taste of the ocean, but that expectation didn’t prepare me for the flavor. It tasted more of the depths of the ocean — a rich, yet elemental flavor that, obviously, goes beyond “earthy.”

And then, the fish themselves (with potatoes) were served, as pictured first above. Full of the freshest fish imaginable from the Mediterranean, it speaks for itself.

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Mi-Cuit de Chocolat. I liked the intensity of chocolate in the middle of the plate, and the opportunities to contrast it w/ either frozen or whipped vanilla cream at your leisure.

We also had perfect Profiteroles, with this piping on the side of the plate… which vindicated all the piping homework that we had in culinary school…

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For more about bouillabaisse — including a California approach to it — see this LA Times article.

L’Artegal – Gordes

Thursday, October 5th, 2006

When we were in Provence, we spent an afternoon in the gorgeous hilltop village of Gordes, which faces the Luberon.

We arrived around lunchtime, and came upon L’Artegal.  The restaurant was full, except for this sole charming table behind the restaurant that they were willing to set for us.  So, we took it.  I appreciated having our own peaceful lunch in a restaurant that was at full capacity.

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Salade Landaise – Mesclun, Sauteed Potatoes, Smoked Duck Breast, Duck Gizzards, Foie Gras. This is the kind of salad that people come to France for.  Lightly dressed, and a treasure trove of salt, smoke, acid, buttery crispy potatoes, fresh greens, and a wealth of duck.  The duck gizzards were delicious –  even though I thought that they were some kind of toothsome mushroom at first.

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Lamb with Herb Mashed Potatoes. The lamb was very fatty, but tasted good with the herbs and jus.

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Sorbet with Tuiles. Hm… those tuiles are burnt.

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Panna Cotta with Fruit Coulis. This had a nice full vanilla flavor and I believe a mirror glaze was on top.  I could have sworn that this had ricotta in it, but we were told that it was just cream. A ricotta panna cotta would be a great idea, though… if only it didn’t sound so silly to say out loud.

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Strawberry Melba “a Notre Facon.” We came across quite a few melbas “a notre facon” in France, and I liked the different plays on them — and this was no exception.

On the way out, we happened to pass by the bar, and when I saw an assortment of intriguing liqueurs, I remembered that I like intriguing liqueurs … so I ordered…

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Melopepo. Cantaloupe and Almond Liqueur. I liked the alcohol and almond tinges to the flavor of cantaloupe so much that I bought a bottle of it at a shop next door.

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P’tit Bleu Pastis. Anise-flavored, obviously, and very smooth. Chad was a big fan.

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Fleur de Figue. The floral flavor was almost astringent in this, although it was very sweet. I was just barely able to finish it.

Bernard Castelain Chocolaterie – Chateauneuf du Pape

Friday, September 15th, 2006
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One of the greatest surprises while visiting Chateauneuf du Pape was this excellent chocolaterie. Chocolate doesn’t usually spring to mind when thinking about Provence, and that’s too bad. This chocolate passed my most criticial chocolate tests: it melted smoothly and dissolved into pleasing notes of flavors. I find it difficult to describe chocolate, and especially to be able to differentiate the flavors in words, although the differences are obvious when you taste chocolates one after the other. My most common complaints of a chocolate would be an astringent flavor and a curdled sort of melting quality. Bernard Castelain has none of those problems.

I was also impressed by the variety of chocolate available — with many different percentages of cocoa, different origins, different fillings, different shapes. There’s a large sales room to show all of them off, and samples for just about everything. Here is a site that sells some of their chocolate bars, so you can get an idea of their variety.

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These are champagne truffles… which, of course, means cognac. These were my favorite. I also liked the cork-shaped “bouchons” flavored the same way.

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Second favorite, these rocks. There was a bright flash of flavor from the coating — something creamy and approaching citrus about it.

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Almond Paste with Coffee. I liked this candy bar-like style.

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Coated Almonds.

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St Domingue, Equateur (from Ecuador), Tanzanie.

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Riederer – Aix-en-Provence

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

I was too full from lunch that day to get any pastries from Riederer, so instead, I just took a ton of pictures…

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