Archive for the ‘Chocolate’ Category

Eating SF: Heaven on earth at b. patisserie

April 10th, 2014
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kouign amann
SAN FRANCISCO — When you live in Hawaii, far from any great land mass, you at one point will become a mule. You know the drill. You're getting on an airplane to get off this rock. Friends find out. They tell you beforehand to deliver this to so-and-so, and bring back things. Even if you don't speak to them beforehand, they will find out from Facebook or Twitter posts and text you.

So it is that I received a text while in San Francisco to go straight to b. patisserie and bring home kouign amann. "You have to go! It's orgasmic!!!!"

OK, so it's hard to ignore that many exclamation points, so I made friends with my cab driver and had him at my beck and call on the day of my departure. After dropping me off at the Persian restaurant Maykadeh for lunch, I promised a pear croissant in his future if he picked me up a few hours later and took me to b. patisserie en route to the airport later in the afternoon.

b. patisserie is the work of Belinda Leong and Michel Suas, founder of the San Francisco Baking Institute.

Leong began her career as pastry chef at Gary Danko, before leaving for Europe and working at restaurants and patisseries in Paris, Barcelona and Copenhagen. She seems to have brought back all their secrets because her pastries are divine.

People are particularly enamored by the kouign amann, a caramelized croissant with light candy crunch exterior and fluffy interior, that originated in Brittany, France. The ones I ordered were filled with chocolate, at about $4.50 apiece but soooooo worth the trouble of lugging them onto the plane.

I went straight from the plane to dinner, and they still tasted fantastic 11 hours later as my friends and I surreptitiously gobbled them up after dinner, like drug addicts in the dark parking lot beneath the restaurant.
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If you want to go or have a friend headed to San Francisco soon, b. patisserie is at 2821 California St. @ Divisadero St., Pacific Heights. Call 415.440.1700.

Big Island Candies celebrates new Ala Moana store

November 19th, 2013
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A limited-edition, chocolate-dipped Hello Kitty design graces T-shirts at the newly open Big Island Candies store in the new Ala Moana Centercourt.Nadine Kam photos

Big Island Candies hosted a couple of events to celebrate the opening of its new Ala Moana Center store, in the renovated street level Center Court, that has welcomed other retailers such as Swatch, Minamoto Kitchen, Papyrus, Island Sole and Freaky Tiki Tropical Optical.

Events started with a store blessing and official opening the morning of Nov. 15, followed by a cocktail reception Nov. 17, with chocolate dipping on site.

The new 1,800 square foot store is packed wall-to-wall with the company's signature chocolate-dipped shortbread cookies, plus a range of chocolate-covered to red velvet brownies, and other chocolate-dipped versions of island treats such as dried ika, arare, li hing mui and iso peanuts.

New products include Mika ume shiso-filled milk chocolates, toffee-coated chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, pineapple shortbread, and chocolate-filled shortbread "Manju."

Many of the goodies are packaged in gift boxes for easy holiday shopping, including a design by Sig Zane.

Prices start at a reasonable $6.50 for a package of chocolate-covered animal crackers, or $12.50 for a box of Mika chocolates.

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The gleaming new store is dressed for the holidays, with plenty of edible gift items packaged and ready to deliver to friends and family.

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Sharita Solmerin was dipping Big Island Candies signature shortbread cookies in milk chocolate during a cocktail reception that took place Nov. 17.

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A little bit of chocolate with ika might turn non-seafood lovers into believers.

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Macadamia nut shortbread dipped in a creamy blend of white chocolate and matcha green tea. (more…)

Twice is nice for Kulu Kulu Cake

October 16th, 2013
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Kulu Kulu's chocolate cake was among the confections sampled at the grand opening of the patisserie's Eaton Square, Waikiki, location.Nadine Kam photos

After a successful first year at Shirokiya at Ala Moana Center, Kulu Kulu Honolulu has opened its second patisserie at Eaton Square in Waikiki, on Oct. 15, with a blessing and cake for breakfast, sending guests back to work with a smile.

There's no way a person could not smile when facing a refrigerator case full of eye-catching treats in candy colors, and there was also no way any of us could walk out without trying more than one of the confections.

The boutique will continue to specialize in its Japanese-style pastries, including its popular light-as-air strawberry roll cake, made daily with airy pound cake, light cream and fresh strawberries.

Standouts include the Diamond Head Puff, a cream puff ode to Hawaii; the strawberry chiffon cake; and light, creamy soft soufflé cheesecake. If you're the sort who feels remorse when eating dessert, this non-dense cheesecake may ease your guilt.

Other popular confections include cakes made of mango, Okinawan sweet potato and Hawaii's seasonal fruits and flavors.
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The newest Kulu Kulu Cake is at Eaton Square Shopping Center, 438 Hobron Lane #102. Call 808.753.0843. Open from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.  Visit www.kulukulucakes.com

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The soft soufflé cheesecake and strawberry chiffon cake were two opening day favorites.

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Kulu Kulu Honolulu vice president and marketing manager Shigeki Higashi, right, and manager/chief patissier Ayaka Ota. (more…)

Life of Bread explored at Cookspace Hawaii

August 14th, 2013
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Chris Sy's breads included dark pumpernickel, clockwise from top right, country, city and semolina loaves, served with Plugra and Organic Valley cultured butters and white and red Kauai salt.Nadine Kam photos

Cook Space Hawaii was host to chef Lance Kosaka and Chris Sy for a combination demo/dinner exploring the life of bread. That is, how to enjoy bread as it runs its course from hot-out-of-the-oven fresh-baked form, to slightly stale to hard as rock state, the idea being that while in Asian cultures every grain of rice is considered precious, in bread-eating cultures diners would never dream of wasting a single crumb.

The event was part of the new demonstration space's summer cooking series "Get Fresh LIVE," demonstrating the alchemy that takes place when chefs and food producers are able to work together and inspire one another. The chefs are allowed to pick their collaborator. While other chefs in the series have chosen to partner with the farmers, Kosaka, executive chef of the Skybar, coming next spring, chose Breadshop's Sy, because he's found that most people don't know what to do with bread beyond making sandwiches or buttering it up as a pre-dinner ritual. Throughout Europe, bread is enjoyed throughout the meal.

Sy, who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from the University of Chicago, said he was inspired to start experimenting with baking bread after reading an essay on bread in "The Man Who Ate Everything," by Vogue magazine food critic Jeffrey Steingarten.

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Chris Sy with a loaf of his pumpernickel. He's worked in kitchens from the Chicago Area's Trio, to New York's Cru, Aux Vieux Four in France, and The French Laundry. He returned home and worked at Chef Mavro and Town before starting his craft bakery Breadshop.

Throughout the meal, I kept thinking about how my late husband would have loved every minute of this dinner.
His mother was from Belgium so he was raised in the Old World European tradition of setting the table with French loaves, cheeses, crêpes, leek quiches and savory stews. In all the time I knew him, he was never without the basic pleasures of the table, and life—a baguette, bottle of wine and cheese.

Sadly for him, until Sy came along, Oahu never had decent bread. Sy talked about the high temperature and moisture needed to achieve the combination of chewy, toothy interior and crackly crust. He uses a pizza oven and said that to produce such bread takes eight to 16 hours, a commitment most restaurants cannot afford, which is why we get lifeless generic table bread and why so many connoisseurs line up at the Pig & the Lady at Farmer's Markets for Sy's creations.

The last event in the Fresh LIVE series will take place 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 23, featuring Wade Ueoka and Ho Farms. The cos is $85.

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The Cookspace Hawaii classroom is in Ward Warehouse, 1050 Ala Moana Blvd., above T&C. Call 808.695.2205. Visit www.cookspacehawaii.com for more classes and information.

Find Breadshop online at breadsbybreadshop.com

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Sy and chef Lance Kosaka work on the bread and tomato salad.

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Open-faced grilled cheese canapes start with grilled cheese of compté and gruyère over Sy's pumpernickel, topped with arugula and prosciutto for a tasty appetizer that's easy to duplicate the next time you entertain.

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Kosaka explained the Tuscan panzanella salad is no more than deconstructed bruschetta, with the a couple days-old bread softened by the blend of olive oil and tomato juices, and tossed with basil and Italian parsley. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and allow them to sit for a while to coax the juices out.

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Bread is broken into bite-size "crumbs" and stirred with pasta, anchovy, cauliflower, broccoli, olive oil, garlic, chili flake, mint and cheese in this pasta dish.

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Olive-oil pan-fried bread topped with Madre chocolate for dessert, with a light sprinkling of salt. So wonderful!

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Lance and Chris toss the pasta. In the foreground are some of the fresh greens that went into the meal.

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Guests were greeted with a choice of mango or calamansi coolers from Cheryl To of PacifiKool, known for its ginger libations.

Bring the sweet life home with Dylan's Candy Bar

March 24th, 2013
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dylan2Nadine Kam photos
A fan of Dylan's Candy Bar poses for a photo with Dylan Lauren and Chocolate the bunny.

On Easter mornings, while all the other kids were anxious to bite into their chocolate bunnies on Easter morning, Dylan Lauren resisted.

"I would only eat the chocolate eggs," the founder of Dylan's Candy Bar said. "I didn't want to eat the chocolate bunnies because I felt bad for them. I just liked to collect them and look at them."

To this day the grown-up Lauren refuses to bite into those vulnerable chocolate ears and legs. She was in town March 23, sharing her latest treats, with "Chocolate" the bunny at her side, handing out samples in Neiman Marcus' third-floor Epicure department, where Dylan's Candy Bar is a store within a store, full of colorful sweets bringing smiles to all who encounter it.

In a phone  interview last week, she told me, "Easter has always my favorite holiday because I love rabbits and bright colors."

Her eye for candy as design elements led her to go beyond the kid craft of coloring Easter eggs to decorating the family table with candies, "creating place settings and centerpieces with candies that look like edible flowers."

The daughter of designer Ralph Lauren said her father indulged her quirks and encouraged her passion. "He saw it was very unique and saw fashion in the candy colors; he understood it," she said.

Despite the obvious color and gustatory benefits, candy might not be top of mind for many people as a decorative element. But Lauren said it can be a fast and enchanting addition to floral and table settings, first working its magic as an icebreaker. The sight of brightly colored sweets tends to lighten spirits and put people at ease.

"With candy there's no wrong way to do things. It always looks pretty and tastes good," Lauren said. "When people do see candy arrangements, it always seems fresh and different."

Think about that for your next holiday table.

dylan lolliDylan's Candy Bar's giant lollipops.

dylan bookDylan Lauren was signing copies of her book, "Dylan's Candy Bar: Unwrap Your Sweet Life.," which is her guide to entertaining with candy.

dylan slipperOne of the new items available, rubbah slippah tins full of candy, $18 in Neiman Marcus Epicure.

dylan fansFans from Japan: the language of candy is universal.