I started to share some cooking resources that I really like, most of all because they brought me new knowledge and new perspectives on food and cooking. After listing some online cooking courses and forums I’d like to mention another type of resource that I use extensively: food podcasts!
Want to create some amazing food? Do something you have never done before? It might be my inner scientist acting, but whenever I embarque on such a mission I usually jump to the ‘theory’ first. That is: learn more about it! And luckily, there’s plenty of great ways to get the knowledge you need! But it can be quite hard to find it in the middle of all the low-quality, false, or nonsense ‘knowledge’ out there…
Last week the Chocoa festival, trade fair, and conference took place in the center of Amsterdam. Chocoa is a annual event and the ‘festival’ part resembles the Origin chocolate event although with more attention towards families, kids etc.. This time I did not attend the festival, but I joined the trade fair instead.
Cocoa bean sampling at the Chocoa trade fair 2015 in Amsterdam. One of the most important tests for the quality of cocoa beans it the so called ‘cutting test’. Typically, a few hundred beans are cut in halves for this test. Visual inspection then reveals the percentage of beans with mold as well as poorly fermented beans (well-fermented beans often show violet colors while a grayish appearance is a sign for non-ideal fermentation).
After more than six weeks my first post for this year! What a burden…
Feels like I am far too late for a classical ‘what comes 2015?’ post. Well, who cares.
I am in busy times right now and don’t find any time to spend on blogging. Much worse, I don’t find time to experiment in my kitchen. By now I should maybe rather speak of my kitchen lab because that’s what it became over the last 2 years. Speaking of which: I did spend a lot of time in my kitchen lab in December so that I could distribute many candy bars and caramels to friends and family.
Candy bar prototypes I made shortly before Christmas. Organic, plant-based, dark caramel with peanuts in dark chocolate. With and without fleur de sel on top. It feels great to do ‘experiments’ where the results are perfectly edible.
Christmas is coming, THE chocolate season of the year. So most us buy, eat, and give away a LOT of chocolate over the next couple of weeks. Which is great!
Just try avoiding the most common dirty tricks in selling chocolate to make sure you really get something that’s worth being praised as ‘chocolate’.
There are many nasty ways for reducing production costs (and quality) of chocolate. Low quality bulk cocoa is much cheaper than premium cocoa. Sugar and other ingredients are even cheaper so reducing the overall cocoa percentage also saves money. And often products are marketed as ‘premium’ to sell for much higher prices even if there is nothing premium inside…
Christmas time, chocolate time. That seems a pretty universal law although it comes in different styles and shapes. Today for instance, 6 of December, many Germans will get their chocolate ‘Nikolaus‘, but chocolate Santa-Claus-like treats are fairly common in many places. It relates to a lot of great childhood memories, probably not only for me. However, when I had a closer look at my ‘Nikolaus‘ today, it felt devastating. These guys are clearly made of bad bad crap chocolate!
Two chocolate Santa Claus (here from Lindt)… as sad as it is: most of these guys are made from very low quality chocolate. Actually, it is hardly ‘chocolate’ at all and the best part of chocolate, the cocoa solids, are only present in traces…
Feels like I am soooo slow when it comes to blogging. No way that I can keep up with my fast growing (imaginary) list of things I wanted to write about. Thus: random picking!
I still haven’t finished my list of Amsterdam chocolate places, so let me introduce another one that was missing: chocolatier Van Soest!
The last two days I attended this year’s ‘Science and Society Conference’ an annual conference series which –this time- was focused on “Foods are us! On becoming and eating”. I had a great time and really enjoyed many interesting presentations by food science experts from very diverse disciplines and backgrounds. This ranged from chemistry and molecular biology to psychology and sociology.
Although cocoa has always been a luxurious good and chocolate in its current (western) form is a highly esteemed delicacy, it feels like high-end chocolate is currently being re-invented. More and more bean-to-bar chocolate makers start to produce better and better chocolates, often by systematically questioning, testing, and improving the individual steps of chocolate making.
Yesterday I learned more about the rapidly growing local microbrewery scene at Pakhuis de Zwijger. This ‘Brewery Special’ was organized by Indie Brands and mainly consisted of 5 presentations by different local breweries to introduce themselves and tell something about what they do, why they do it and additional anecdotes (the featured breweries were Amsterdam Brewboys, De Vriendschap, De Prael, Oedipus, and Browerij t’IJ). Naturally, this was followed by a beer tasting…