Monday 19 April 2010

Wild garlic truffles? really?

I had first made wild garlic flavoured ganache a couple of years ago (I really do try everything!); it was interesting - a sort of Heston Blumenthal snail porridge sort of experience (not that I have tasted that) that gets your brain and taste buds going in a way that familiar food just doesn't do - new connections in your brain need to be created to experience a completely new flavour combination and it is really exciting. Anyway, the testing panel here at cocoaflower HQ were split on the original experiment: the panel of three (J, A and R) had various reactions. J just raised eyebrows and would not commit to any opinion; R loved it and claimed it was the perfect combination of two favourite foods - garlic bread and chocolate, and A thought it tasted like cold pizza, and not very nice cold pizza. So, we sat on the idea, and I used the experiment merely to evidence that I would try anything as a flavour.

However, last week with the first Logierait Country Market of the year coming up and uninspired by the late spring and the need to still use 'store cupboard' favours as I call them - I thought it was time to really test the water with a challenging flavour. I made small cocoa powder covered truffles with the wild garlic flavoured milk chocolate ganache, rather than include the flavour as one of the four in the normal selection box. I was curious to know how people would react - both on being offered the flavour but also if brave enough to eat it what they actually thought of it.

My first customers were a group of Japanese tourists who either spoke no English or were so shocked by what they ate that they were unable to speak English. I think they understood chocolate and so eagerly took samples - but at that point communication broke down as they rushed on to the next stall. Not an auspicious start. However, I persevered and to be honest thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. Most of the people that I offered the truffle to eagerly tried it - what a wonderfully adventurous crowd. Only one person used the word 'disgusting' and actually most thought it was 'not unpleasant' just 'strange'. We agreed that the challenge would really be when you would want to eat it - this is no cosy end of the evening treat - more a wake up call to the taste sytem - so an unusual aperitif?

Monday 5 April 2010

must try harder...

Well - that didn't go too well did it! Not sure whether to abandon or persevere - and I think will do the latter. I listened to a Radio 4 Food Programme in which Sheila Dillon explored the use of new social media in marketing - and inspired by this and driven by the need to really develop my marketing skills, I established Facebook and Twitter pages. I hope these will not go the way of this blog's last few months - but know that if they are to succeed then I have to work much harder at them than I have in the past

So what have I been up to in the chocolate world since I last posted an entry? Since August I have done a big food show (BBC Good Food Show in Glasgow) which went very well and was great fun (but exhausting!), Christmas chocolates - exhausting and to a degree quite good fun, and then we have had the gentle early year chocolate eating rhythm of Burns Night (I have been trying really hard to develop this as a new chocolate centred occasion - please join my campaign, I feel sure Robert Burns would have approved - he would have written poetry and ballads about chocolate had he been around a century or so later!), Valentine Day, and of course Easter. We had Simply Chocolate workshops - Hearts and Tarts in February and then the Easter one last weekend.

And I went on a great training workshop down in Banbury and discovered a gorgeous walk from the railway station to the Barry Callebaut factory - entirely on canal path, park paths and small back lanes.

So - coming up soon is the first of the monthly Logierait Markets on 17th April - 10am to 2pm