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Sunday, 22 February 2015

Lime and Ginger Chocolate

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Lime and Ginger Chocolate Shards Merry Berry
A visit by my daughter to a recent Chelmsford beer festival resulted in a surprise gift of chocolate from Merry Berry, based in Burton-on-Trent. 

Chocolate has taught me one thing, 'never judge a book by its cover'. However, I have to admit that I was slightly skeptical about the combination of chocolate and beer festivals. Where was the link? 

Well, a quick look at Merry Berry's Facebook page showed me that there were indeed a lot of people out there pairing up chocolate with beer and actually enjoying it. Ok, I have heard a lot about pairing wines with chocolate but never beer. This is not just your bog standard industrial brewed beer but artisan, handcrafted, extraordinary beers from the likes of Brewdog. So, there must be something to it. Check out December's tasting at Brewdog, Liverpool. 


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The chocolate (Belgian?) has a cocoa content of 53.8% and does not overpower the lime and ginger. However, the light dark chocolate goes perfectly well with both. There is a strong aroma of crisp, fresh lime on opening the packet. The chocolate melts quickly and smoothly in the mouth with loads of tangy lime. The ginger comes later offering up a little heat at the end with the lime continuing. 

This is a very agreeable and well balanced piece of chocolate, priced at £2.20 for 50g. To buy follow the link here.

Merry Berry Truffles also make truffles. Quelle Surprise! Interestingly, they make a chilli bar which is rather dramatically named 'Scorpion Death Chilli Chocolate' which has a disclaimer as people have been made to cry. I can only assume they've been using it as a face pack? The mind boggles! The reviews of this chilli chocolate are great....enjoy!

When I'm next in Southwold I'll try a piece of chocolate with some Adnams Old Ale which has an aroma of caramel and nutty chocolate.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Peruvian Gold

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Chulucanas 70
Not wanting to start this post on a downer...but our bodies have just made it through January and we're now talking about chocolate and 50 shades of something, blah, blah, blah. 

Many of you will understand and recognise this never ending
nightmare, that we find ourselves in. Throughout January you will have religiously attended many exhaustive, hot and sweaty sessions at the local gym and consumed vast quantities of stomach stripping detoxing 'green juices' in a never ending futile attempt to rejuvenate, replenish and miraculously turn that Christmas Pudding shaped stomach into something representing a washboard. 

Unfortunately, come February everything and everybody is plotting against us and as soon as we have shed those few pounds our bodies are thrown into the next retail battleground that is Valentine's Day. Even the government is getting in on the act deciding it is a good time to slap our lardy arses and cut benefits to the plumpy dumpies amongst us. Where can we find salvation? Could this spell the end for chocolate? Uh, no I don't think so. Not when it comes to tasting such delicious and possibly 'healthy' offerings from the likes of Willies Cacao.

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Two Squares of Peruvian Gold 80g
Willie Harcourt-Cooze founder of Willies Cacao and real life Willy Wonka has not been seen on our tv screens for several years when he was last seen running naked down that Exeter country lane. There is nothing he doesn't know about chocolate and he will go to great lengths to bring us delicious and flavoursome chocolate without the necessity of adding processed sugar or other additives. 


Chulucanas 70 is described as instant gratification... how appropriate. 
Made from single origin Criollo beans this chocolate has distinctive notes of raisins and plums. For a 70% dark chocolate it melts quickly in the mouth giving up it's citrus flavours with additional plum and liquorice. This is a beautifully balanced piece of chocolate and if anybody thinks dark chocolate is bitter then you have to try this bar.  

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The word Chulucanas actually comes from a town in the Piura region of Peru. The town of Chulucanas is apparently famous for its black and white pottery and ceramic characters. 

This bar is priced at £2.99 and you can buy online by following the link here.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Spiced Apple Cake

Spiced Apple Cake, The World of Chocolate, Recipe
This particular recipe was taken from English Patis who tweaked a Delia recipe. I used golden caster and left out the pecan nuts to please all members of the family.

Ingredients:
350g peeled and chopped apples - I used Braeburns
275g plain flour
110g butter - melted
2 eggs - slightly beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves (optional)
1/2 whole nutmeg - finely grated (about 1 tsp)
170 g golden caster sugar
175 ml milk


Topping:
75g  Demerara sugar
75g  self-raising flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
25g  butter - softened
50g  pecans or walnuts - roughly chopped - optional
1 Tbsp cold water

Method:

Preheat oven to 165C fan. Grease the bottom of a 3 lb loaf tin and line with a strip of greaseproof to aid removal once cooked.

Mix the topping - combine the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour in a small bowl. Cut in the soft butter with two butter knives into the mixture. Then proceed to rub in it with your fingertips. Add in the nuts - mix well. Sprinkle the cold water and toss. Set aside.

Combine the flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking powder, and salt in another bowl.
Put the eggs in a large bowl. Add in the milk, sugar, and melted butter.
Add the flour mixture into the egg mixture with a wooden spoon and mix well stirring in the chopped apples.

Pour into the greased cake tin

Sprinkle the topping on the surface of the batter.

Bake in oven for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool for about 5 minutes, turn out from the pan then cool completely.


Spiced Apple Cake, The World of Chocolate

Serves 10-12 portions and at the time of writing this recipe the cost of producing this cake was £2.75.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Shoreditch

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SHOREDITCH
Shoreditch, home of Yalla Yalla and The Hoxton, is just a 5 minute walk away from the busy train terminus that is Liverpool Street station and the City, work place of bankerman. 

We nipped over to Shoreditch or as it was known in a previous life as 'Sewer-Ditch' when the area was not much more than a boggy landscape. 

Well, you'll be pleased to know things have moved on since then even though the weather may still be the same, wet and very, very cold. Us Southern folk are such wimps when it comes to the cold. Fail!

The thrust of urban development is creeping little by little with new flats rising from what seems like the very cracks in the pavement and interestingly we came across the March for Homes, a demonstration against "social cleansing". Hundreds of people walked the streets protesting against the lack of affordable housing. Like most modern cities London is a place of extremes with people sleeping rough alongside 3 bedroom flats on sale for £2.4M. The March for Homes is said to be the first of its kind, bringing campaigners, retailers and trade unionists together to highlight the lack of affordable housing and spiralling rents.


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March for Homes
Stopping off for an impromptu haircut at a Turkish barbers I managed to get warm again, whilst my old man had the haircut to end all haircuts.  Not having witnessed the intricate skills of a Turkish barber I nearly jumped off my seat when said barber set fire to my husbands hair and then proceeded to slap him with hot wet towels, followed by intense massaging of the upper body. With only a slight whiff of burning protein in the air my husband escaped with his hair intact, well what was left. In fact it was the best haircut he'd ever had, certainly the most entertaining.

Street art is everywhere....

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Smokers take shelter
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Foxy....
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Damien Hirst at The Tramshed 

By chance we came across The Tramshed, Mark Hix's celebrated Chicken and Steak eatery and headed inside mainly to escape from the weather. Fortunately, for my purse, the Weekend Brunch menu was available and we sat and enjoyed a 'Cock 'n' bull hash with a double yolker' and a Salt beef sandwich. Its not everyday that you can sit under a piece of Damien Hirst artwork. A word of warning don't have the fries they're more expensive than the main course....cunning naughty sides! Well worth a visit and not just for the food. At the moment kids under 10 eat free!

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Cock 'n' bull hash with a double yolker

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Salt beef sandwich
Staff are friendly and food was delivered quickly and efficiently, they even had time for a chat. If you have time, pop into the Cock n Bull gallery for some arty inspiration.  Shoreditch....we'll be back when the sun comes out again.