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!
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 weeks1. 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…
- Actually, we already might have during all the last weeks I guess…. [↩]
Christmas time, chocolate time. That seems a pretty universal law1 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…
- At least in moderate climate regions. [↩]
During the last year I frequently stumbled over research related to the ‘microbiota’ (sometimes referred to as ‘microbiome’), which simply stands for the myriad microbes we carry around. It immediately caught my interest when I first learned more about it. I can still remember that I was totally sure that I had found a typo when I first read that we have 10-times more of those little creatures in our body than human cells!
During a week in East Germany I had my fears of German regulations for artisan production confirmed. Unfortunately 1.
- I had read a lot and kind of knew what to expect, but I somehow still had hope. So I did some inquiries at a local Handwerkskammer only to find out that my understanding was right. No artisan candy production without “Meister” or equivalent. So here’s my plan for REVENGE: I will start my enormous candy empire abroad. Amsterdam, here I am! [↩]
When entering the world of high-quality chocolates you immediately get confronted with a number of categories in order to understand or classify a chocolate. There is the technical aspect of the chocolate manufacturer: roasting, conching, adding cocoa butter. But all of this can only enhance or suppress the flavors that come from the cacao bean itself. The bean flavors are strongly influenced by the process of fermentation and drying. Finally, beyond that come two major labels: geographical origin and cacao variety. At first this all seemed to make sense to me, but the more I think (and read) about it, the less I buy it.
Today something really important.
Christmas is coming and especially in nearby Germany that means baking time, Weihnachtsplätzchen, Guzle, and many other german-like words for Christmas cookies. Every qualified German grandma1 has her own recipes and cookies are shared proudly and excessively. Oh yummy, Christmas time the time of eating tons of delicious home-made cookies.
Not everyone is as fortunate. If you do not live in Germany, or do not have a German mom or grandma… too bad2. But at least you might have some eatable cookies as well. What’s real bad though, is if you are a pony, or a dolphin3, … or a dog. But –how cool is that!!- at least German dogs are saved now!
- Yes it should be grandma or grandpa, but the world of Christmas cookies hasn’t heart of post-gender theories yet. [↩]
- Nothing better than a baking grandma, sure. The next best thing is maybe to put on your baker hat and start making some on your own, such as these or these or those. [↩]
- The sad news: dolphins will again have a sad Christmas. Ponys, too. I am aware of the fact that I herewith share a billion dollar idea with you guys. Go for it! Mhhhh, algae-gingerbread. [↩]
Last Sunday I went again to the Sunday Market in Amsterdam. That’s a real nice place for decent food and all kind of handcrafted bric-a-brac. It was cold, it was raining, this kind of ugly dark November weather that gives you the feeling that you’re about to get sick… but NO! No panic! Fear not! You’re saved. Saved by something that comes in form of an fantasy priced 30ml, bright green or orange liquid: SUPERFOOD!