All Day Beignets & Chicory Brew

Craving old-fashioned fried ‘beignets’? Well, if you’re ever in New Orleans, be sure to stop by the iconic Café Du Monde. Serving piping hot and fresh doughnuts and/or your choice of beverage, this NOLA fixture has been running since 1862. And, that’s not all. Keeping locals and visiting folk – like ‘moi’ – happy, this coffee house runs nonstop.Cafe Du Monde Beignets 8 arr

That’s right, open 24 hours/day, 800 Decatur Street is the place to be! Making my way to this very hotspot, midday service is – as expected – busy! But, with perseverance and patience on my end, coupled with the dutiful display on behalf of the staff, order’s up: a classic pairing of café au lait and beignets, as well as sweetened ice-blended coffee. Cafe Du Monde Beignets 1 arr

And, now, for the taste test. Starting with a sip of the cold ‘refresher,’ the frozen café au lait is sublime. A grown-up take on slush, if you will, this caffeinated drink hits all targets: it helps beat the heat, tastes satisfyingly sweet, and gives you that added pick-me-up for the day, to keep touring the Quarter. Preferring slush over iced-coffee, you definitely have the option to request the floating ice variety. Cafe Du Monde Beignets 9 arr

Sticking to tradition, let’s move on to the long-awaited beignets. Prepared two-ways – with or without a thick dusting of confectioner’s sugar – these powdered pillow squares are always plated or paper bag packed in threes. Going for the snow-capped option, my trio of beignets smell sweet, are soft to the touch and are revealing of a chewy consistency upon first bite. Cafe Du Monde Beignets 2 arrIn a dough-nut shell, they’re plain-Jane – ‘au naturel’ – bundles of fried up comfort, no frills required. And, as with all fried foods, be sure to enjoy these goods while they’re hot.

Clearly, having enjoyed the venue and blast of air circulating from the ceiling fans, sitting ‘à la table’ with a chicory-blended brew of java is my kind of shady afternoon. So, for all those wanting to take a Parisian-esque break in the south, just find a seat at this corner coffee stand and prepare to watch the world go by – one sip, slurp, and beignet at a time.

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2018. All Rights Reserved.

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Cray Cray for Deanie’s!

Deanie's NOLA 1 arrCrazy for NOLA! Truly, who wouldn’t be? Infatuated with brass tones, French culture, rich food and good company, New Orleans is a city I’ve long yearned to visit. And, finally, venturing to the birthplace of jazz music and legends alike has come to fruition – Oui, oui!!!

Offering plenty to feed all your senses, the list of food events and street sightings is too long to name. With the promise of more posts to come, there’s just one thing to do: “Laissez le bon temps rouler!”

Deanie's NOLA 5 arrGetting down to business, I make Deanie’s Seafood my first dining stop. Conveniently situated right in “Quarter” – the French Quarter, that is – this local favourite easily gets packed during peak times. Fortunately, making an entrance at the ‘right time,’ my party is soon seated and served with spiced “hot potatoes.” You heard right! Talking about a “good change,” find no pre-meal dinner rolls, here. As the server helpfully explains, patrons are presented with a plate of boiled red-skinned spuds and butter in ‘lieu’ of bread, and as a side note: these potatoes evoke a distinct element of heat given they are extracted from an authentic ‘seafood boil,’ and consequently have absorbed all the good piquant seasoning.

Deanie's NOLA 3 arrAlready kicking things off in the right direction, this prelude starter is sign of more delicious food to come. Clearly dishing the fish, seafood is fresh, made to order and prepared your way – fried or broiled – and, as if that’s not enough, it comes with a plateful of fries. Bearing all the markings for an evening feast to share and remember, here’s a quick rundown of what ‘was’ enjoyed: a half seafood platter in addition to an order of stuffed shrimp, and a broiled crab quartet consistent with stuffed crab, soft shell crab, crab legs, and crab gratin. Yes, I know it’s a lot but, “The ocean called…” and, I’m running out of time in NOLA, so I must-indulge.Deanie's NOLA 4 arr

Nothing short of ‘magnifique,’ I can attest to the quality of the aforementioned dishes. Between the battered and fried shrimp, fish, oysters and soft shell crab, these ‘fruits de mer’ were divine. Sweet, succulent and tender, I enjoyed the seafood at Deanie’s. Deanie's NOLA 2 arrAs a standout, the crab gratin dish was ‘dat good!’ It was decadent, creamy, loaded with lump crab meat and it paired well with the side plate of fries. Perhaps, not the intended method of consumption, but it makes perfect sense. After all, why not top off fries with a cheesy crabby topping? Just think: upscale seafood poutine – you’re welcome!

Deanie's NOLA 6 arrWorth repeat visits, letting the good times roll is made easy at Deanie’s. Back again for a taste of authentic crawfish, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to leave NOLA without getting my hands a little messy. Learning the tricks of the eating trade, I efficiently learn how to ‘work for’ a morsel of crawfish. Far from the simplicity of peel-and-eat shrimp, crawfish is similar in texture though differs in taste and, above all, requires more effort for less reward. Still, I’m happy for the real deal experience in yours truly, and can appreciate why these mudbugs are so loved. From ‘bon voyage’ to ‘bon appétit,’ good eats are undoubtedly found at Deanie’s Seafood.

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Paris Dreaming

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Wishing everyone happiness, prosperity and health-y appetites, the start of 2018 is made fabulous thanks to resolutions.

Parisian Carousel 1 arrYes, you’ve read right! Love them or not, resolutions are not to be feared. Paris dreaming – myself – I’m resolute to start off the year with a taste of France. And while a real-deal French escape sounds alluring so, too, is the next best thing: Parisian-inspired eats, ‘chez-moi.’

Almond Frangipane Croissants 6 arrNeedless to say, if you can’t go to the magical “City of lights,” why not bring Paris – or, replace with your fantasy destination – to you? Keen on keeping my vow to enjoy more French fare, “Vive la France” doesn’t ring anymore true than starting the day right with this classic breakfast staple: buttery rich yet light and flaky croissants.

Almond Frangipane Croissants 5 arrFinding no judgement here, you may by all means purchase croissants and enjoy them as-is. Elevating an already scrumptious pastry, I have almond croissants in mind for my ‘petit déjeuner.’ Cheating, ever so slightly, I create almond frangipane from scratch but, proceed to use Pillsbury Crescent Dough – and, I’m glad I did! Sorry but not sorry, I lay out the triangles on a parchment-lined baking sheet and add a spoonful of the creamy almond filling prior to rolling. Oven set at 375 F, I proceed to bake the eight crescents for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. End result: a perfectly warm and tender almond-filled pastry that is nothing short of divine. Mildly nutty and equally fragrant, you don’t have to travel far for these parcels.

Pleasantly evoking memories of Paris, there’s no doubt this breakfast plate of ‘la nostalgie’ makes for a very delicious attainable goal. Already 1-0, resolution-trepidation is literally a thing of yesteryear – happy resolving!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2018. All Rights Reserved. 

When in Rome, Giolitti!

When in Rome, venturing to the Trevi Fountain is a must! Definitely a sight to behold, the same can described of the outpouring of tourists. Rightfully wishful, there’s truly no shortage of admirers tossing coins and within elbow’s reach. So let’s face it, when the only open space left is the mini pool – ‘la fontana’ itself – reality strikes: it’s time to go! Saving you the trouble of locating your next mini-getaway, allow me to retrace my steps and acquaint you with a must-visit gem of a gelateria along the maze-like streets of Rome. Giolitti 13 arr

Nestled between an espresso bar and neighbouring boutiques – Via degli Uffici del Vicario, 40, to be exact – I find myself reliving a happy incident of déju-vu at Giolitti. Oh, how sweet it was – a few years ago – and still is, today! Clearly having been there and done that, a good first impression is enough to leave me wanting more. And with an endless display of premium quality frozen desserts, Giolitti makes repeat visits easy. Giolitti 11 arr 

From start to finish, getting your hands on ice cream is quite the experience at this parlour.  Upon entry, most tourists shuffle between the pastry counter and the corner stop for cafe beverages all the while lost in amazement of the ornately decorated establishment.  Almost frozen in time, the traditional handmade pastries and sweets if not the interior ambiance is sure to take up a couple of your minutes.  

Giolitti 1 arrOvercome by a spectacle of confections – cassata siciliana, sfogliatella napoletana, crema e pinoli, marmellata, paste assortite, cannoli, cookies, and brain-freeze selects – the commotion of eager patrons will certainly bring you back down to earth, and in no time you’ll soon remember why you’re here in the first place: “Gelato, por favor!” Sure enough, crowd control is in check and, so too, is the step-by-step ordering process:  first, place your order – one, two or three scoops – then, pay the cashier and receive a receipt to present to one of many ice cream servers.  At this point, don’t be shy to make your request and be heard, especially since there’s no formal queue and the servers are beckoning ice cream lovers to efficiently make their way to the counter.  Essentially, your wish is your command. Literally, the sooner you voice your ice cream desires the sooner you’ll grab it and go – just be prepared, and know what you want.

Hanging around the masses of gelato fans, delighting in a chocolate-covered cone-filled treat is monumental sight in its own right.  Just imagine:  cones upon cones covered with scoops of freshly churned congealed dairy dessert and topped with a generous slathering of sweetened whipped cream. No risk, no reward – get in queue already!

Sticking to the caffeinated side of things, I spot so many variations of cocoa indulgences through the glass window but narrow down my choices to three.  Going for a trio of dark chocolate, tiramisu and coffee, this combo is velvety rich and packed with nuanced flavour. Simply put, Giolitti’s gelato is the ideal afternoon pick-me-up. Better yet, it’s an everlasting souvenir that’s meant to be devoured and detailed for later recounts. Clearly repeating history, this foodie chronicle is worth reliving – in person!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

“L’envie en rose”

If you ever find yourself hungry in Paris’ 5th ‘arrondisement’, there are a few places you may want to visit. Between fresh fruit stalls and seafood markets, in addition to local pâtisseries, this district boasts full of restaurants that cater to various palettes.

Au Jardin de Lutece 1 arrKeeping you well informed, here’s a little taste of what I spotted along the streets of Rue Monge, Paris. Not to be confused with ‘mange’ that means ‘eat,’ Rue Monge is not your typical tourist attraction and, however quiet, it remains worthy of some notable buzz.

Starting with a duo – literally neighbouring markets – Poissonerie Monge and Au Jardin de Lutèce are considerably destined stops for local Parisians who seek fresh seafood and a bountiful of tropical fruits and garden vegetables. While I haven’t had the fortune to cook the ‘catch of the day’ – chez Poissonerie Monge – my testing of freshly squeezed orange juice, decadent honey-sweet dates among other seasonal berries are to be discussed.  Beginning the day with vitamin-rich essentials, locating this fruit stall all began with a quick passage down the street. Like many happy accidents, some hidden gems are best identified when merely walking. Once there, this roofed ‘garden’ does not disappoint. Eyeing a rainbow display of every fruit and vegetable you can name from A to Z, there’s clearly no shortage of items.

As for my impromptu excursion, the prices are a bit steep but, the quality reigns supreme and leaves a lasting impression from first to last bite. Personally, I recommend the ‘jus d’orange’ as it’s prepared on the spot, and is consistent of sweet and tart flavours – seriously, a delicious way to start the day. Like the citrus, this vendor knows how to pick dates. Au Jardin de Lutece 6 arrToo mesmerized to ask their origin, whether Medjools or not, there’s no mistaking these dates were certainly fresh with a soft outer layer, meaty in size – not dried up or shrivelled like some other varieties – and, jam-packed with sweetness.  Surely, a date or two is the perfect lightweight snack to keep anyone energized.  Consisting of more happy surprises, each corner of this small shop carries pockets of nature’s beauty. For instance, while indulging in ruby red currants and organic strawberries did amaze, the one that got away – hopefully, to be sampled on a future trip – was the box-load of once again ‘fresh’ hazelnuts. Can you believe it? Now, I know from former experience what fresh almonds look and taste like but, much to my excitement, seeing fresh hazelnuts was a first! Luckily, for those in the area, they can be found here Au Jardin de Lutèce. Now you know – ‘je vous en prie,’ you’re welcome!

Maison Gregoire 1 arrFrom land and sea to farm fresh and freshly baked or cooked, there’s an endless list of gastronomic stops to recount. Briefly, for those with a sweet tooth, Rue Monge is also host to an array of ‘viennoiserie’ and classic French pastries – pain au chocolat, brioche, croissant, flan, tarte aux pommes, macarons, etc. – as well as simple cheese sandwiches, all courtesy of Maison Grégoire. Maison Gregoire 2 arrHaving said that, those after a more hearty lunch or late night dinner must-visit and must-walk further along Rue Monge and take a detour – all within walking distance, I promise – to Rue Mouffetard. Once there, behold: foodie central! Taking a late night promenade to Rue Mouffetard, myself, I find this street to be lively and boasting with a mélange of young and young-at-heart patrons. Likewise, the diverse spread of dessert parlours, tea houses, international fare – Greek, Italian, Turkish – and authentically French cuisine-oriented bistros run plenty.

Crepe 1 arrVenturing to satisfy sweet and savoury senses, I opt for a cheese and egg-filled paper thin crêpe. How so very typical – I know, but don’t mind! Almost an equivalent to what we – North Americans – commonly identify as a pancake house, this ‘crêperie’ offers both Nutella/fruit options and meat/veg components, and speedily prepares them ‘à emporter,’ for takeout.

Gelati d'Alberto 8 arr

In continuation of the next sought after treat, I set out for a real beauty – an edible rose – at Gelati d’Alberto.  Truly, a sight for tasteful eyes, this gelateria impresses not by its compact dimensions but, instead, by its glass-encased selection of uniquely flavoured congealed confections. At initial glance, I’m left intrigued by flavours such as açaí berry, “Alibaba” – a mixture of sesame and orange blossom water – litchi, and even aloe vera. Gelati d'Alberto 6 arrUltimately, request is made for a delicate yet vibrant trio of: rose, pistachio and strawberry gelato. Taking time to savour this ‘fleur,’ each petal layer at a time, the distinct combination of the three gelati did make for a pleasantly memorable experience. Undeniably fragrant, this perfumed hand-crafted rose smelled sweet as much as it tasted intoxicatingly true to the essence of rose water – simply, magnifique!

Needless to say, it’s all in the way it tastes!  And, in keeping with homemade tradition, Alberto’s use of pure fruit and quality ingredients speak volumes in the final product of gelati and sorbets that is clean and refreshing on the palette.  It’s no wonder, then, that gelati and sorbets made by this ‘maître glacier’ – master ice-cream maker – are self-proclaimed to be the envy of town, “L’envie en rose,” and rightfully so. All in a day’s work, this food-hunting escapade just touches the surface of all there is to explore. While I’m sure I could go on with more mention of French food or the artisans who craft them, there’s no denying this fact: “La vie est belle, et vous êtes comme elle!” Life’s beautiful – and even more so with ‘la cuisine française’!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

I Saw the Sign: L’As du Fallafel

L'As du Fallafel 1 arrLooking for an ideal grab ‘n’ go snack, in Paris? Look no further than L’As du Fallafel. Situated along 34 Rue des Rosiers, this falafel hut serves up orders as quickly as they take them. Getting my ‘fill’ of a widely popular mid-east treat, I order piping hot deep fried pillows of falafel rounds that are sandwiched into a soft pita. Specifically asking for the ‘fallafel spécial,’ it’s consistent of the famous falafels plus hummus, veggies – lettuce, tomato, cucumber, grilled eggplant – and for added spice, I also get mine topped off with piquante sauce. Loving the hand I’m dealt, the verdict’s in: this ‘ace’ of a sandwich delivers in bold taste!

L'As du Fallafel 4 arrWhat’s more, word of mouth still works! And, in little to no time you’ll find crowds gather by this hotspot. So in case you’re running low on energy or simply can’t wait to get your falafel fix, be in-the-know of the how-to’s when it comes to speedy service at this restaurant. Taking out the guesswork, here’s what to expect for takeout: first, spot the staff/rep – most likely standing outside, infront of the venue, already taking orders – then, find your place amid the open air queue of patrons and submit your request. In following, provide payment directly to the ‘outdoor’ staff who will, in exchange, provide a paper receipt to be presented to the cooks. Simply put, the invoice is key: no paper – proof of purchase – no falafel.

L'As du Fallafel 3 arrLuckily for tourists, both English and French are spoken/understood here. Appreciating the spontaneous French lesson, ‘on peut bien y practiquer le français!’ But if learning languages is not your thing, fear not as all foodies are well aware of this certainty: no matter the destination, expression of ‘hunger pangs’ – not words – remain the universal language.

Equally vocalizing my desire for food, I pursue the vegetarian route and stick to the “must-indulge” menu item of choice – pure falafels. L'As du Fallafel 2 arrMore than ‘a’ chickpea, it’s the culmination of chickpeas plural in addition to the compounded mixture of fresh herbs and spices that make for tasty bites of falafel. Generously wrapped, this veggie sandwich bodes well in freshness as in portion. Catering to meatlovers as well, other selects include: chicken or turkey shawarma, meatballs, schnitzel, sausage and fries that are available for takeout. Food-excursion of the day complete – with a falafel pita – I attest that L’As du Fallafel does indeed transform an otherwise mildly flavoured légume into something palatably wonderful. Whilst feeling peckish in the Marais district, then, look for the righteously named sign of this Parisian food-stop and sample the ‘ace’ – the base of falafels!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved. 

A Marble to Behold

Chocolate Marble Banana Bread 4 arrA while ago, homey banana bread was made and devoured by yours truly – ‘moi,’ of course! The sweet memories of what once was – yester-bake – now leaves me with this thought: I do believe it’s time for a remake. Just as before, I’ve come across the very old yet same predicament – as past recipes would reveal – and, a very delicious answer for an almost forgotten bunch of ripened bananas. Some never learn, I suppose – or do they?

Chocolate Marble Banana Bread 1 arrSpeaking of myself, I’ve definitely love to salvage overripe fruit in baked goods. Without getting overly ‘mushy’ about the subject, I equally attest that banana bread is best made when this fruit does in fact start to brown and spot on its exterior but, remains soft and explosively flavourful.

Wasting no more time, let’s get baking! Starting with a trusted recipe, I decide on marbled banana bread. Like the original, this variety simply requires one to divide the dry ingredients initially suggested for the making of one loaf in multiple bowls. Taking things step-by-step, measure halved amount of the ‘necessities’ – flour , sugar, salt, and baking powder – into two different bowls where the chocolate variation takes less flour, thus being certain to replace the omitted amount of a.p.f. with cocoa powder. Chocolate Marble Banana Bread 2 arrFrom here, divide and pour the already mixed wet contents – butter, vanilla, bananas and eggs – into each ‘dry’ bowl. And for an even more decadent chocolatey twist, add dark or semi-sweet chocolate chunks to each bowl. Once both batters are well combined, introduce spoonfuls of each into a well-greased and parchment-lined loaf pan.

Vanilla and chocolate contents now acquainted, insert a knife or wooden skewer into the batter-filled pan and make swirl motions to create the classic marbled pattern. Finally, top your edible art with extra chocolate chunks – if your heart desires – and get that marbled slab into a preheated oven.

Chocolate Marble Banana Bread 3 arrSensing a banana-rich sweetness in the air, I know my marbled loaf is ready – about 50 minutes or so. Leaving this beauty to cool prior to slicing, getting my dose of potassium courtesy of this banana bread-ish ‘healthy’ cake is my kind of rescued dessert. Hoping you’ll show ripened fruit some TLC – via the kitchen – treating bruised fruit is not so ‘bananas’ after all. Clearly enjoying the fruits of my labour, reinvented banana bread is simply marvellous. Whether you enjoy it as a mid-day snack or for a quick breakfast on the go, this moist loaf satisfies in both its classic state, embedded with nuts or rippled with melted chocolate flavours – naturally, it’s a ‘marble’ to be behold!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved. 

The Latest Scoop

No-Churn Ice Cream 2 arrAsk any ice cream fan, and I bet they have their ‘favourite.’ While mint chip and rocky road are popular flavours, mocha almond fudge tops my list.  Whatever your preference, most would agree that quality ─ real dairy ─ ice cream can’t be beat.  And much to my delight, “no-churn” recipes are no-fuss and all things decadent, rich, creamy, and simply divine.

Too irresistible not to try, I put a three ingredient “no-churn” ice cream recipe to the test. Happily evading use of an ice cream maker, I only need an electric mixer and these “must-haves”:  2 cups of heavy cream, a can of sweetened condensed milk, and a couple dashes of vanilla essence.  Once the aforementioned ‘magic three’ are whipped and form soft peaks, I pour the mixture into a freezer-proof container, cover it with a lid, and set it into the icebox for at least five hours.

No-Churn Ice Cream 3 arrThat’s it! Truly, your work is done ─ “no-churn” vanilla ice cream 101.  But why stop there, right? ─ Right on!  Getting creative, I double the ‘basic’ vanilla recipe, and divide the ‘very good’ vanilla bean ice cream into four separate loaf pans.  Creating a blank canvas of sorts, you can stick with vanilla-infused ice cream and later incorporate added texture and taste via your imagination.  For instance, consider the following:  chocolate chips, caramel sauce, fresh berries or fruit preserve, nuts, crumbled cookies, liqueurs or even mint extract for a more refreshing taste.

No-Churn Ice Cream 4 arrGoing for delicious scoops of ‘breige,’ my ice cream cloud is made of plentiful shades of wonderful: vanilla bean, espresso, double chocolate and mocha almond fudge.  For the already mastered classic, use of pure vanilla extract is a given.  Catering to purists, I also recommend following suit by integrating the scraped black seeds of an authentic vanilla pod for an elevated flavour profile.  As for a chocolaty spin, whip a few tablespoons of cocoa into the basic mixture until it appears homogenous, and then stir in shavings of dark chocolate.  In similar fashion, treating the basic vanilla mixture to an “afternoon pick me up” is as easy as blending it with chilled brewed espresso or with a few tablespoons of the ‘instant’ alternative.

No-Churn Ice Cream 1 arrReserved for last, but certainly not least, my favourite ─ mocha almond fudge ─ tastes like the real-deal. Best part is:  the only place I need to ‘bask in’ for the making of this confection is the kitchen.  Kid you not, this take on mocha almond fudge is ‘that’ good!  And, here’s how to make your own:  blend the basic vanilla mixture with cocoa powder, espresso powder ‘et voilà,’ you got the mocha part ready.  Half-way done, freeze the mocha ice cream for about an hour while you prepare the fudgy addition.  No-Churn Ice Cream 6 arrFor my interpretation of a DIY nutty ganache filling, I take a dark chocolate almond bar ─ the family-size variety, about 300 grams ─ save some with which to later decorate, and then melt the rest with some heavy cream over a double-boiler.  Once the contents have melted and the ganache has cooled, remove the mocha ice cream from the icebox and spoon in the filling, trying to create chocolaty almond ribbons.  Finally, top off the mocha almond fudge ice cream with a crunchy combo of toasted sliced almonds and chopped chocolate chunks, and really freeze it this time ─ a solid five hours should suffice.  Wait time ‘somehow’ endured, appeasing to one’s appetite for homemade “no-churn” frozen dessert is undeniably a cinch.  As for the question of brain freeze, “no-churn” is still a no-brainer ─ happy ‘paced’ consumption!

© DISHFUL, 2016.  All Rights Reserved.

“Food of the gods”

SOMA chocolate 1 arr

Toronto is home to many foodie hotspots, and rightfully so. But, where do chocoholics go?  Having heard many great things of one particular chocolaterie, I thought I’d pay a little visit to a quaint gem in the heart of the Distillery District.  Say it is so ─ SOMA Chocolatemaker.  Catering to fans of all things cacao, enter this one-stop chocolate shop and you will not be disappointed.  A local paradise of sorts, SOMA looks, smells, and embodies the multifaceted tastes of chocolate.

SOMA chocolate 2 arrPleasantly surrounded by one of my favourite things ─ chocolate, of course ─ I take some time to admire the shop’s ambiance and machinery such as the cocoa grinder. Also capturing my attention, I locate an encased chocolate and nut salami that is uniquely made and available by SOMA.  Clarification provided, this show stopping treat contains no meat and can be sliced and served in rounds, making it ideal for individual delighting at any holiday party. SOMA chocolate 3 arr

SOMA chocolate 4 arrNeglecting not the other senses, it’s time to taste test. Patiently waiting in queue, I studiously scan the endless array of handcrafted chocolates, and begin to decide.  Certainly wanting chocolate, which one?  With no shortage of options, I decisively place an order of hot and cold, in addition to both liquid and solid cacao treats:  six truffles and a mug of Spicy Mayan Hot Chocolate.

Saving the confections for later, I first sample the ginger and cayenne infused hot chocolate. Clearly combining sweet with heat, this invigorating hot chocolate will leave your taste buds ─ on fire ─ with a chocolaty picante bite.  Needless to say, this spicy hot chocolate lives true to its name.

Another day, another chocolate? Yes, please!  SOMA chocolate 5 arrOpening my wrapped box of handpicked bonbons, I behold these heavenly beauties:  Brown Butter Truffle, 8 year aged Balsamic Vinegar, Roasted Cacao Bean, Magnolia Peach, Australian Ginger and Meyer Lemon, and a “unique origins” truffle.  Though a select few, the aforementioned truffles are all synonymous with pure quality chocolate that is aromatic, refined, and smooth while equally indicative of a myriad of flavours and textures.  Favouring the Peach Magnolia, I recommend it for its delicately perfumed taste and silky ganache interior.  The clean and bright citrus profile of the Australian Ginger and Lemon is pretty good in its own right, as are all the rest.  In all fairness, I haven’t had a bad ─ “Food of the gods” ─ experience at SOMA, and thank goodness.  Happily, my overall first impression is this:  SOMA truffles are more than chocolate ─ they’re chocolate made right!

© DISHFUL, 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

A Shapely Pear

Pear Crisp 3 arrFall is here, and with it comes an abundance of seasonal fruit. And thanks to a neighbourly gift, my effortless reaping of pears not only leaves me with a surplus of ‘au naturale’ shapely tree ornaments but, too, some baking inspiration. With no shortage of semi-firm green pears in sight, these treats can be kept to have and to hold ─ in a basket ─ before they fully ripen.  Then again, why wait?

Loving the pear shape? Undeniably well-suited for an elegant affair, pursuit of a classic poached pear recipe is the clear route for those who want to keep its curvaceous integrity. But when life’s offerings are plenty ─ and ‘boiling’ over a stove top can be averted ─ here’s what I do with all that fruit: peel, cut and get baking! For fancy taste without all the fancy work, I keep up with rusticity and follow a delectably simple country staple ─ golden raisin and walnut pear crisp.  Pear Crisp 2 arr

It’s Thanksgiving in a dash ─ well, almost! Courtesy of fragrant cinnamon spice, bites of toasty warm reminders of the upcoming holiday are thankfully achieved via homely fruit crisp. Equally pleasing to my ears, this shareable dessert can be made and altered to match one’s taste. Getting started then, select your preferred seasonal harvest ─ apples, pears, peaches, berries, etc. ─ and prepare the two main parts: a sweet fruit bottom and crunchy oat topping.

No tricks and all treat, this pear crisp is consistent with the following ‘fillings’: cinnamon, sugar, lemon ─ juice and zest ─ golden raisins and sliced pears. For your take, you can even try elevating the mixture by soaking the raisins in brandy or orange juice in addition to adding variant dried fruits such as cranberries or candied ginger. Pear Crisp 4 arrIn continuum, the soon-to-be crunchy topping can be made by separately ‘hand-mixing’ these dry ingredients: brown sugar, flour, rolled oats, salt, walnuts, and cold butter. ‘Et voilà,’ a complication-free fruit layer and oat topping that is ready to be poured into a greased oven-proof deep dish, and baked at 375°F until bubbly and golden brown. Though only a few, here are some friendly key reminders: preheat the oven, bake the crisp for approximately 40 minutes, and proceed to cool for roughly 20 minutes. Falling for these instructions, here’s the ultimate scoop: this baked bountiful of pear-licious crisp is best enjoyed at room temperature, and even more decadent when served ‘à la mode’ for a match-made mouthful ─ tenderly baked pears paired with rich vanilla ice cream.

© DISHFUL, 2015. All Rights Reserved.