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Monday, June 18, 2007

Gettin' Hitched

No, not me. Haha. Right. In that instance, the idea seems to be, "always the caterer, never the bride". But it's something I think about a lot. Again, not exactly what you might be thinking - I'm actually one of those rare ladies that has never imagined her wedding, or picked out her dress - although I have found the ring (but I plan on buying it for myself if things don't go in that direction).

I'm talking about the wedding industry. There's been a lot of talk lately about the high price of weddings and the tendency of people to capitalize on the willingness of brides and parents to pay for it all. There's even a counter culture of brides who , "trash their dress" - but really, isn't this just another way to sell more photography time? I'm not really bashing it - I think it's just a logical extension of a wedding day - every girl wants to be a princess on her special day, and she'd also like to be a fashion model, pouting and preening in a fountain or a dingy alley. So where does it end? At what point do you stop feeling like you're providing a legitimate service, and start feeling like you're fueling a raging fire of emotions and fleecing little Susie out of one more dime she could have spent on her mortgage?

It's a question I struggle with, because I am aiming at the wedding market. In the slow months after Valentine's and before the holiday season starts up, wedding season is the respite of the struggling chocolatier. Who doesn't want a perfect little box of truffles with their new initial waiting at the table for their guests? And what makes a better thank you to all the friends and family that have put up with your antics for the past months than a big, indulgent box of chocolates? (and maybe a thank you note) But will I become part of the greedy masses, trumping up the idea of perfection to a starry-eyed consumer?

I'd like to think that I won't. I think most people who know me would agree - I'm a decent sort, and I'm not out to fleece anyone. Don't get me wrong, I don't think that everyone in this industry is - I know there are lots of people who really are interested in making someone else's day special, and they're not interested in gouging simply because it's a wedding. But one can't ignore the fact that there are some services that may be the same (i.e. a limousine) that cost extra when the intended recipient is a bride.

So now that I've had my say, why don't you order some truffles for your wedding?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

New Flavors

We've been having storms almost every afternoon, which has put me in the mood for comfort flavors. One of my favorite candies from school was a chocolate carrè. Carrè means square in French, and these are little chocolate squares with a filling of chocolate and praline paste and feuilletine (little flaky crispy bits). Because I like peanut butter better than praline paste, I've recreated the carrès with peanut butter. If I don't eat them all, they're now for sale on the website alone and in combination with two other new flavors I made today, Banana Cream Pie, and Cafè au Lait.

Two years ago, I was in NYC, sitting on a rooftop bar with a date, trying my very first mojito. In the spirit of rememberance, and just because they're so tasty, I've created the Mint Mojito Cream - minty buttercream with a dash of lime and a "kick". It won't get you tipsy, but it will certainly refresh you on one of these ridiculously hot days.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bacon and Chocolate

I was sifting through some blogs yesterday, and came across this story, Chocolate and... Bacon? , about a new chocolate bar by Vosges Haut-Chocolat with bacon. I have to say, this is not my first encounter with chocolate covered bacon. When I was a baby pastry chef at the FCI, my chef-instructor made little chocolate covered bacon candies as well as a red wine truffle. The truffle was not particularly good, but the bacon, was fantastic. It was a thick slice of bacon, cut into 1 cm pieces and cooked slowly until it was crisp-chewy. After the pieces were cooled, they were enrobed in dark chocolate. You couldn't eat more than one piece, it was pretty rich, but man, it was tasty.

Revisiting the bacon-chocolate issue made me think about my own weird flavors. In my line, I have several unusual combinations. In fact, I've made it part of my philosophy to find those good, unexpected combinations and make them. I started with salt and chocolate (the Sea Salt Caramel) and added pepper and chocolate (Pink Peppercorn Caramel) to balance the combination. It took many attempts to get it right, but I'm pretty pleased with the final result.

For me, chocolate is about a moment. I'd rather have one amazing piece of chocolate than a whole box full of something mediocre. With my candies, I hope I can re-create that for someone else. I'm trying to find that balance between unique flavor combinations and classic ones. I don't want them to be overpoweringly rich, but I'd like to find that a person savors each piece, instead of eating them quickly.

So, if you're reading, please, tell me, what are your favorite weird flavor combinations? (ideally they'd include chocolate, but all submissions are interesting!)

Monday, June 11, 2007

the wheels of progress move slowly

Kitchen construction has begun. It's crazy how quickly and slowly the process goes. Over Memorial Day, the framing went up, and the plumbers are due to come this week. I still have to line up the electrician (I had one set up, but he flaked out). After that, it's just a matter of finish work and moving in all of the appliances.

When I was around ten, my parents built a house. Then, a few years later, my grandmother built a house. I've been through the building process, but it never seems to sink in. I've been seeing this kitchen in my head for months, and now I just want it done.

Friday, June 8, 2007

The Search for a Name

Before we began this little journey, I would never have said that one of the hardest hurdles to jump would be naming our enterprise. I've always been great with names. All of my pets have really, good, interesting names that match their personalities. My fictional children have always had names that would neither make them sound foolish, or scar them for life (Hello Moon Unit, how are you?). Why should naming a company be any different?

My first instinct was to go with something that reflected one of my aforementioned really cool pet names. I thought that would make it more personal, and sound good. I thought about Luca (my horse's name). But Luca what? Luca Chocolate? Luca's Chocolate? Just Luca? Luca was out. Next we tried a combination of our names (remember, I used to have a partner). The best we could come up with wer DEVA and LEVI. No.

One of the most promising came from an offhand comment that David would say when he was at a loss for words. But, after a few weeks, Blue Monkey Chocolate lost its luster.

Part of our logo was a lion. I am a huge Queen fan, and I've always loved the cover of "A Night at the Opera". David used that idea to create our own logo, and draw our own lions. Lion Chocolate does exactly roll off the tongue. I did a multi-language search for the word, and løve was discovered. Løve is the Danish word for lion. The exact pronunciation is "leuve" or something like that. We say love. It's faster, and requires less explanation.

It took about six months, and more words than I remember (I still have the lists), but I really feel like this is my company, my name. That's a great feeling.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Up and Running!

First, just a little reminder. I am a pastry chef. My broadest base of knowledge involves working with butter, sugar, flour, eggs, and chocolate (of course). While I feel like I'm more than the sum of my cooking skills, that is where a lot of my experience lies. So you can imagine how well I do with HTML. I think there are probably single celled organisms who know more about HTML tags than I do. But, there was a website to be made and I wasn't going to let that stand in my way!

Our website is hosted by the lovely people over at They have this dandy little program called "ShopSite" which helps you create a store with the help of a wizard. It was relatively quick, painless, and yielded good results. And if I wanted good results, I would never have had to wander down the HTML road. I wanted great, impressive, very professional results. That meant I had to master a few tags in order to avoid having one big run-on sentence of an online store.

Once that was mastered, I had to find a way to link my newly made store with our already existing website. Hilarity ensued. I'm sure lots of you in the blogosphere have plenty of experience with code and the inner workings of a website. But just in case you don't know what I'm talking about, let me give you an example of what it all looks like:

" !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "" meta content="text/html; charset=utf-8" http-equiv="Content-type" title Blogger: Eat. Løve. Chocolate. - Create Post /titlelink href="/css/app.css" type="text/css" rel="stylesheet" script src="" type="text/javascript"!--"

What the hell is that? (I've taken out all the little < symbols because it is technically coding, and I don't want to code the blog, I want to show the code.) I could pick out the words in the code, and so I started from there. This is the point in the story where I could take full credit for the loveliness that is our home page, and go on about how, with the help of a little book about code, I created that in a few short hours. But that would be untrue, and unfair. My dear friend and former partner, David, is responsible for cleaning up my mess. He very patiently went back through it all, with the help of Dreamweaver, and got everything sorted out. I'm not saying he did it all. I did manage to link the store to the home page by myself. But he made it look good. And that's why we're friends.

Now! Go order chocolate!

Friday, June 1, 2007


Things are a little different starting today. For no reason other than it was the right thing to do, the partnership aspect of LØVE Chocolate is over. It's just me now. I own my own business! Whoo hoo! I'm excited and looking forward to moving things along a lot faster. The website is now up, although that will be changing again pretty soon. There will be online ordering and all kinds of exciting flavors in the coming weeks.

Stay tuned.