Archive for the ‘Chocolate’ Category

Dreams

September 25, 2008

First off, I’m not going to forget to do this. I was given my second blog award (I am totally lame and forgot to blog about the first one) by Ginesa.

I have to thank her, because if anyone’s blog is encouraging, it’s hers! We found each other, thanks to the internets, and have enjoyed cheering each other on in our weight loss journeys. She is doing GREAT! Not only is she losing weight, but she’s training for a race and doing a kickass job on her runs. Plus she has an adorable daughter who just turned one, and posts pictures often. Yay babies!!

Okay, now that I have remembered to write about that…

I had a dream a couple months ago about a bakery. I’m unclear as to whether I owned it, or was just a customer. It could best be described as a dessert bar. It was decked out in black and pink and had a modern, yet whimsical and a not-too-girly feeling to it. Kind Alice-in-Wonderland-ish. It was in a part of town that was part nightlife/part college area. Although it happened to look just like this street of gay bars that I visited in Thailand.

There were big comfy couches and booths where groups of young adults picked off large trays of gourmet goodies. Fancy versions of youthful desserts like Oreos, Oatmeal Creme Pies, Twinkies, and other treats like cookies and cupcakes. It was like a cafe, where people could come in, hang out, study, work, chat, and eat delicious desserts. Or they could place orders to go. It was cool. And it was open late.

I awoke with the insane urge to open this place.

A couple days after this dream, a coworker talked to me about a thought she had about opening a “Wonka Bar.” She had just seem us perform in “Willy Wonka” and had this idea of opening a bar that served candy-themed drinks. It fit in perfectly with my dessert bar idea. It could be called the “Candy Bar” and could serve all kinds of delicious desserts along with yummy drinks.

Just a couple weeks ago, after dinner with my dad and sister for her 13th birthday, we wanted to go get dessert. I racked my brain for places to get dessert, near downtown. We had just come from a restaurant. We didn’t want to go into another one just to order dessert. Kopp’s custard was far away. We didn’t want to go to a grocery store to get cupcakes and eat them in the car. We settled for gelato from Whole Foods. But eating gelato in a car on the way home was not the perfect way to end the night (though close, because Whole Foods’ gelato is yummy).

I started thinking, does Milwaukee really not have a cool place to go get dessert? Shouldn’t we have one? We have plenty of awesome bakeries, but those require planning and forethought. What if I want to GO OUT for dessert, at 9:00 at night? The closest thing I can think of is at the InterContinental, where you can order up some chocolate truffles or petit fours at $2 a pop. Good, but not quite what I’m looking for.

So now I’ve had this thought, this dream, of opening up a “dessert bar” in Milwaukee. I’m not the best baker, but I would learn. I’m pretty good, and if I had the time, I think I could develop quite a nice talent. But running a bakery? I don’t know… It sounds like a good idea sometimes, but then I think about all the potential problems.

How would I get started? Where would I find money/space? Would I be able to sell stuff? What about equipment? What about health insurance? What about health codes and regulations? What about the potential of financial ruin? What if no one thinks it’s as cool as I do? And so on…

I keep thinking about working towards it, though. Maybe devote my weekends to baking. Learning about it and trying out new recipes. I have a couple friends who own theatres. Maybe they would let me sell some treats on show nights. Maybe I could develop a small following. Maybe I could start a by-order-only business, and then hope for it to grow. Maybe… what if… what about…

I don’t feel like I’m cut out for the 8-5 job that I’m in right now. My creativity is stifeled. I need more. I want more. I deserve more. I wish I could jump into this RIGHT NOW. But I have to step back and think. Maybe I can go to MATC and get my associates business degree. I hear that gives you some good entrepreneurial information, and it wouldn’t take half a lifetime to finish. Maybe in five years, I can really start something. Or maybe in five years I’ll think it’s even more foolish than I do now.

And it’s time for my favorite Disney quote. Belle, from Beauty and the Beast sings,

“I want adventure in the great wide somewhere; I want it more than I can tell. And for once it might be grand to have someone understand, I want so much more than they’ve got planned.”

Swig

April 9, 2008

Swig is reopening!! Myself, David, Sandy, and Jeff all went for their “super secret preview week” last night at their new Third Ward location (On Broadway near Chicago). I was happy to find some favorites still on the menu, like the Tempura Snap Peas. Mmmm, they were just as good as I remembered them.

(These may not be the exact menu names, but I’ll come close)
We also ordered:
Smoked Salmon Pate (a new item. I’m not fond of smoked salmon, but this was pretty yummy.)
Baked Cheese Ravioli (Yum!)
Curry Chicken Wontons (Even better than I remember. The dipping sauce makes the sweet curry heat bearable.)
Baked Stuffed Chicken (David’s Entree- This was very Italian and creamy. He said he got kind of overwhelmed by it. I think this would be a good entree to share)
Roasted Portabella Salad (Jeff ordered this. I don’t think I tried it. But mushrooms = good.)
Shrimp Ravioli (Sandy’s Entree. Holy GOD was this delicious. I just had a bite, but I could’ve eaten her whole plate. It’s a candidate for my next visit. Even though I love…)
Pan Seared Tuna (My Entree. They changed this a little from the old Swig. It is now breaded with panko crumbs. At first I resented the change, but once I got over it, I realized how delicious it is. True to my request, it was just barely seared, and the raw inside was buttery and flavorful, not fishy at all.)

We got a free dessert, some sort of chocolate chip cookie cake with vanilla ice cream. Despite being full, we all managed to inhale this.

We also sampled some of their drinks. I thought I’d stick with one martini, but I got two. Whoops. And of course I tried everyone else’s drink. In order, I liked:
The Dreha (The first one I tried, made with their house infused kiwi-pineapple vodka. Awesome! I will be getting this one again. Very sweet and fruity, but without tasting like a Jolly Rancher.)
Victorian Lemonade (I just tried a sip of Jeff’s. It’s a gin based cocktail. But it’s one of those dangerous drinks that doesn’t taste like booze.)
French Vanilla Pear (Don’t get confused when it comes to the table looking like the French Vanilla Raspberry. Sandy and I ended up ordering the same drink that way. It was good, the addition of Chambord giving it the raspberry look. The pear flavor is great and the vodka is also house-infused. It also includes a splash of champagne, which I love. It has a more “grown up” and less sweet flavor.)
Blushin’ Russian (Dave ordered this one, made like a White Russian with the addition of Amaretto. It was good, and I’m a sucker for Amaretto)
The Hendrick (AKA- The spa martini. The floating cucumber slice makes me think I’m drinking a spa. Interesting. This is one of their old drinks, and although it’s refreshing, it’s just not my taste.)

It was a great night. We even got to talk to the owner (I think it was the owner?) about the items that we tried. Despite being only the second day it was open, the service was good. Our server wasn’t familiar with all the new menu items and drinks, but we came to the conclusion that if it sounds good, it’ll probably taste good!

Candy Everywhere

January 24, 2008

There is candy everywhere in the office today. Someone filled a communal candy dish with full sized candy bars and cookies and bags of M&M’s. Someone else has Twizzlers sitting on her desk. It feels like everyone is forcing it down my throat! I caved and had a Snickers, because that has nuts, which have protein, right…?

I am twitching in my chair because the sugary sweetness is getting to me and making me want MORE. Rather than eat more, I thought I’d write about wanting it and how I am avoiding further temptation.

In other news, I tried on wedding dresses yesterday! Nevermind the fact that I have NOTHING planned (but tons of ideas) and don’t even have an official date. But I played dress up for an hour at Cloud 9 Bridalin Gurnee, IL. A little far, but they talked me into it at the Wedding Expo I went to over the weekend. They were so nice and totally didn’t care that I had nothing planned. They weren’t evil tag rippers and had dresses in bigger sizes to try on. And they were very pretty!

Wow wedding dresses are major pieces of equipment. I felt like I was wearing a tent at first, with all the layers and the long trains and the crinoline. But I got used to it. Now I can’t wait to go somewhere with my girls- Mom, sisters, or future-sister-in-law. Or anyone else that wants to go.

I’m bad- I totally showed David the pictures. My excuse was that no one else came with me. And I didn’t fall head-over-heels in love with any of the dresses. He was actually excited to see me in these pretty dresses!

Here are some of my favorites:
 
I don’t remember the designer of this one, but I love, love, love lace. And sparkles!

 
This was a beautiful “latte” color and wrapped in sheer tulle and beading. I loved the lacy look and was surprised by how much I liked the mermaid style. Although I think I need to lose a couple of tens of pounds before I would consider going with this style.


This one was totally interesting. I didn’t think it would be my style at all, but I had seen it in a magazine and wanted to try it. I liked it more than I thought I would. It has a corset back and a girly train and lots of glitter, but I kind of liked the modern stripes. Imagine how stunning it would be on someone tall and thin!

So that was my superfun afternoon!

Time For More Drool

December 18, 2007

Rather recently, I have become enamored of the Chicago-based chocolatrie Vosges.
Truffle

They make the most amazing chocolate. It’s all about high quality chocolate combined with interesting and exotic flavors. My first real experience with it was on my November 2006 trip to New York City. David, Sandy, and I had about two hours to spend in SoHo and we spent an hour of it in Vosges’ Haut Chocolat boutique. It was worth it.

We each tried one of their signature drinking chocolates. They have three- the Parisienne, Aztec Elixir, and Bianca. The Parisienne is most similar to normal “hot cocoa.” It truly is drinking chocolate. We ended up buying a box of this mix and it actually has chunks of chocolate mixed in with the powder. The Aztec has a spicy chili addition and the Bianca is a white concoction of lemon myrtle, lavender, white chocolate, and vanilla. David said it tasted like fruity pebbles and the woman behind the counter said that one was also good served chilled.
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After this, we were hooked. We bought a boxed collection of the Exotic Truffles. These assorted truffles combine rich chocolate with typical and bizarre flavor combinations.
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Like the Budapest Truffle:
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This combines dark chocolate with sweet Hungarian Paprika. Who would have thought this could taste so good?

Many of the truffle flavors in this collection also come in candy bar form. The candy bars are nice because they keep longer than the truffles. The truffles are made with fresh cream and it is recommended that they are consumed within 10 days. v3.jpgThe chocolate bars keep for about 6 months (not that they’ll last that long).

I think one of Vosges’ greatest flavors is the Naga. This is a good one to start with. Sure, you can get more classic combinations like hazelnut or walnut, but why not try something crazy? The Naga is sweet Indian curry powder, coconut flakes, and deep milk chocolate.
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I also love the Black Pearl- Ginger, wasabi, black sesame seeds, and dark chocolate. Red Fire is a Vosges staple- dark chocolate, cinnamon, and Mexican ancho and chipotle chili peppers. At Whole Foods on Prospect & North this past weekend, David and I bought two bars we hadn’t tried before. One of them is new to Vosges- Mo’s Bacon Bar. This is applewood smoked bacon, Alder smoked salt, and deep milk chocolate. I didn’t think I would like it, but Katrina proved me wrong yet again.

Next on my must-try Vosges list is their ice cream. Outpost Foods allegedly carries this. It looks absolutely decadent.
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You can order all of these yummy products on the website, or do a search for local stores that carry some of the products. Whole Foods has several of the candy bars and even a couple other specialty items (the caramel toffee is awesome comfort food.) Otherwise, if you’re in Chicago, stop at one of their two boutiques (or one of the two in NYC or Las Vegas).

I’m always on the lookout for good chocolate. This place definitely has the “exotic” award in my book. They have inspired me to seek out and bake recipes like these Chocolate Chili Brownies (or Taco Brownies, as they have lovingly been dubbed). I am thinking of making these again this week, but substituting the chili with powdered ginger, thanks to my craving for the Black Pearl bar.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what to get me for Christmas, the Grand Hatbox would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!
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