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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Draeger's Fall Chocolate Boutique 2010 - Review :

What's not to love about the world famous San Francisco Bay Area Draeger's Market ?
 If you've never had the opportunity to shop there, let me very briefly fill you in. Draeger's offers an extraordinary selection of gourmet foods, a top notch kitchenwares department, a world class restaurant and a very prestigious cooking school ( by the way look for my Valentine's Day chocolate decorating class at the Blackhawk location in 2011 ). But enough about that , this is my review about The Chocolate Boutique on Saturday November 20th, 2010 at the San Mateo location ( they have four locations in the Bay Area, San Mateo, Blackhawk, Menlo Park and Los Altos ).

LOVE this little X-mas ornament available at Draeger's 
I had the honor of doing a chocolate decorating demo because Draeger's is also selling my instructional chocolate decorating DVD The Chocolate Addict vol 1 "The Chocolate Garden", you can find it in the book department, did I mention they have an awesome book store fully stocked with a stupendous selection of cook and food related books, to keep any glutton glorified for hours ?  Draeger's is like Disneyland for Gourmands .They showcase a lavish selection of confectionary delights, are wonderfully supportive of local chocolatiers and offer a grand assortment of chocolate marvels fit for any chocolate addict (  try the chocolate salted margarita caramels, yum yum ! ). 

My DVD, yay 

Whenever I make a trip to Draeger's in San Mateo, I immediately hang a sharp left and check out the bakery and confectionary goods behind the massive glass case, and usually I'm not the only one there. Admiring beautiful hand crafted confections,pastries and desserts makes me deliriously happy.  I also wanted to integrate a few pieces into my demo so I was eager to pick some out. 
My Chocolate Decorating Demo:

Next stop, off to visit my favorite Draeger's personality Kathleen Taggart for the run down. The first thing I noticed about Kathleen was her chic and very short hair cut, and I immediately starting having epic visions of whacking off my over grown mop top ( but so far I have only managed to cut a few bangs ...).  Kathleen introduced me to Jorge the display artist and said he would help set up my station. Jorge's work is quite simply, out of this world. I informed him several times, he has the best job ever. He agreed. Jorge gets to take all of the exquisite merchandise in the kitchenwares department and make it even more fabulous by arranging it just so. Jorge is my new other favorite Draeger's personality, we mingled on and off all day and I enjoyed his delightful company.
Chocolate Dessert Cup Made With a Balloon... so 'a la mode
Kathleen put me at the top of the escalator outside of the main chocolatier room, so people HAD to see me before they went in. I enjoyed myself immensely as people sauntered about and dropped by to see what I was up to. I demonstrated how to make a dessert cup by dipping balloons in chocolate, one of my favorite chocolate techniques ( and one I feature on my decorating DVD ). Highlight of the demo was meeting 2 of the Draeger's, Mr. Richard and Mrs. Mary Ann, who could not have been more charming. I think it's safe to say, Mr. Richard and Mrs. Mary Ann are my favorite actual Draegers.  :)  

After my two hour demo, I had just enough time for a chocolate romp around the boutique for some sugarcoated merriment.

The Chocolate Boutique:

Anni (and mystery man) from Gateau et Ganache

First stop: Gateau et Ganache, wuz up Anni ?, 
Oh so beautiful French style confections. I love the way Anni Golding displays her tiny heart shaped bonbon samples ( about the size of a dime ), one can not help but grabbing 1 or 2 or 3. I am absolutely hooked on "La Cannelle"  the sweet little chocolate bonbon infused with organic cinnamon.  She also has a nifty selection of fresh truffles and what I really love, are the seasonal assortment of handmade marshmallows  " Les Guimauves ", these fluffy little clouds of spongy deliciousness make my heart swoon, with flavors that include vanilla, pumpkin spice and cranberry. And come to find out, she also has a chocolate dipped chocolate flavor, did not get to try this time around, but hope to soon.  I would happily accept these as a gift from anyone ( hint ).

Gateau et Ganache bon bon samples

Just catty-cornered meet the decadent Vice Chocolates
I just did a review on Vice Chocolates (so you know how much I love them),  on my last blog, as they were also at the SF Fall Luxury Salon. And I was very excited the see Ili the Vice chocolatier again, to devour just a few more ( dozen ) truffles, and that I did.  My new favorite; "Punk'n ". How could the best tasting truffle also have the coolest name ? well...  dark chocolate ganache, pumpkin, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg all rolled up in a ball, deserve an awesome name and Punk'n fits the bill.  

love the details !
What I love about Vice is all of the exquisite details that go into making each and every piece. I know Ili works into the wee hours making this happen, just for you. I also found out that she loves cats as much as I do and has a lot of fuzzy mouths to feed ( like I do ), so do her a favor and go buy her chocolate. See my last blog post for more on Vice Chocolate, you'll be glad you did !.
ili and Vice Chocolates
Next stop Jade Chocolates, 
Jade infuses spices and ingredients form Asia and the Pacific Islands with their confections. And you will flip over the selection which includes chocolate covered macadamias and edamame packed in a darling Chinese take-out box. They also offer chocolate covered dried mango which is quite simply, one of my all time favorite combinations. I always suggest dipping dried fruit as a easy and fun way to practice working with tempered chocolate, if you have never tempered chocolate before. LOVE LOVE LOVE chocolate dipped dried fruit.

Jade Chocolates

Moving on down the line, CC Made, Caramel
Did someone say caramel corn ? outta my way, I'm coming through !  and better yet,  pistachio carmel corn ! I happen to love caramel as much as chocolate ( caramel apples being high up on my list ). Cassandra uses fresh organic popcorn from local farmers, freshly roasted nuts and also has a line of artisanal caramels ( a must try, since I did not get to sample ). Crunchy,nutty,sweet and salty is my idea of a lip-smacking good time indeed.
CC Made Caramel Corn

Hangin' with Amatller Chocolate
The first thing that caught my eye with this chocolate company from Barcelona was the beautiful packaging design featuring one of my favorite turn of the century artists. Alphonse Mucha was an Art Nouveau illustrator whose glorious work features elegant ladies dripping in mega yards of free flowing fabric ( and hair ), soft organic lines, and plenty of flora and fauna thrown in. 
love the art nouveau packaging !
I have always been so inspired by his work, but more on that later, because Amatller makes a chocolate covered fig that is to die for. Succulent, sweet and full of mouth-watering goodness. There is something so upper crust about a chocolate covered fig, it's just plain "posh". This would be an elegant hostess gift, that makes the gift giver look good as well, it reeks of sophistication, and if you're a mere peasant like me, you sometimes need to "fake it" in certain social circles ( for example the chocolate covered fig eatin' crowd, may not be the same crowd you would discuss the Entenmann's chocolate fudge cake from Walmart and Thrifty's chocolate brownie ice cream scramble recipe with ) . So get the chocolate covered figs and pretend you're "one of them", and do yourself a favor, splurge and get an extra box for yourself.
Did I mention how much I love the packaging?
chocolate covered figs to DIE for
Wrapping it up with Clarine's Florentines
What's not to love about these sweet little almond cookie biscuit treats that are the perfect accoutrement to a cup of afternoon tea ?  Get ready to NOSH out !  I mention Clarine's on my previous blog ... you can scroll down to see it.

Clarine's Florentines, I'll have some of those !

The Moral of the Story:
Draeger's Market is Awesome and Chocolate Rules da School !

Happy Holidays!
Catch ya on the flip side of the chocosphere !


Anytime is the right time, for a chocolate nosh :)

Did I tell you I have an instructional chocolate decorating BOOK idea, as a companion to my chocolate instructional DVDs? I need an agent to help pitch my proposal, if you think you can help please email me ;)  any advice is appreciated ... I will start actively pursuing next year .


The District Chocoholic said...

Very cool post - the Vice Punk'n sounds amazing.

The Chocolate Addict said...

Thank-you ! yes, give Vice a try, they won lots of awards at the SF chocolate salon, everybody loves them :)