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Friday, March 6, 2009

What happened to February?

It was a whirlwind, and to all of you who bought LUCA for your Valentine, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You! It was a great season for local chocolate and small producers, and I hope you liked what you tried and I'll be seeing more of all of you.

This post will be quite a mishmash, I'm still trying to get my thoughts in order. First off, did you see my chocolate covered bacon in the News and Observer? Here's the bit about me...

Leslie Cooper, 26, is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute who decided to return to Franklinville, a small town east of Asheboro, to start Luca Chocolate. She makes the chocolate-covered bacon, as well as truffles and a chocolate-dipped sea salt caramel.

Her handyman father built her commercial kitchen on the second floor of his workshop on the family's 18-acre farm. They scrounged restaurant auctions and Craigslist for a freezer, a double sink and a microwave. An aunt donated a double oven from a house she is renovating. Cooper's mother is the company's unofficial "chief marketing officer" because she is constantly chatting up her daughter's business.

"This is my baby," Cooper says, "but my whole family supports me."

Nice, yeah?

Second, I hope that you'll stop by Courtyard Coffee when you're in Siler City. It's a darling little shop in downtown Siler City (which is experiencing it's own artistic renaissance), and they've got a great courtyard that's going to be awesome for taking in the cool spring and early summer evenings.

Spring flavors are coming soon, as are a few special Easter themed offerings. I've got visions of spring flowers and buzzing bees and it's just a matter of turning that vision into a buttercream or a caramel or a truffle or something covered in chocolate. Sometimes I feel like all the good ideas are going to dissolve right back into my brain, because they all want out at the same time. Let's cross our fingers and hope that they'll all come out in an orderly fashion.

Finally, I couldn't make a post without mentioning this lovely new product that's come to my attention -McNulty's 7 Fruit Chutney. The owner of this cottage industry contacted me because we share space on Foodzie, and she sent me a sample. Oh man. If I could find a way to make this work with chocolate, I would. It's got this sweet, savory, spicy flavor that takes your chicken sandwich to this whole new level. If you like Indian food, you'll love it, and if you're unsure about Indian flavors, you'll probably still love it. It's like the chutney your grandmother would have made if she emigrated to a small NC town from Delhi. I love it (did you get that yet?) and I'm guarding the rest of my jar jealously.

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