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Okay okay. I know. It’s been, well…a while. But things have been rather action packed as of late and thus blogging took a back burner.

But I’m back! Well, kinda. Things are still pretty formidably busy, but I did want to take a quick second to let you know I’m not dead and that our Valentine’s Collection flavors are pretty delicious.

First off I thought it only appropriate to have a flavor named after breakfast in bed, a favorite treat on special occasions in our house. And since English Breakfast tea has such a tasty robust flavor that melds so well with cream and sugar, why not infuse a creamy milk chocolate ganache with its lovely essence? Coated in a 72% dark chocolate and sprinkled with grey sea salt, this truffle is sure to please even the Queen of England, or so we imagine. It would be rather regal to eat truffles in bed, don’t you think?

We also had to include our best seller in the collection : Sinful Zinful. A potent reduction of a wonderfully fruit forward not-too-peppery local Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel blended with a deliciously dark chocolate ganache makes for a tantalizingly toothsome treat. Raspberry dusted fleur de sel garnish further enhances the rich Zin flavoring and brings the truffle to a sinful crescendo ideal for a Valentine’s celebration.

And nothing is more appropriate on Valentine’s Day than a spicy chocolate truffle to heat up the palate. We use an earthy Ancho Chile as well as a touch of cayenne to spice up a lovely single origin chocolate from Venezuela, which has underlying notes of warm earth and spicy tobacco; this ganache is truly sexy. Can i say that? Well, I just did.

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We love our latest Kiva loan not least because she sells salt! How apropos. Here’s a bit more about her:

Altantuya is 36 years old and lives with her husband in a house in Hovd province of Mongolia. Her husband helps with the family business. Altantuya operates a salt trading business. She started her business in 2004 at Han-Ord market. She has gained a lot of business experience. Her husband supports the family business a lot. She is a diligent person who is requesting 1,800,000 MNT loan to purchase salt.

I wonder if she ships to California??

Fritz Collection

Chocolate. Wine. Chocolate AND Wine; now we’re talkin’!

If you’re like me, pairing decadently dark chocolate with the perfect red wine is one of the most luxuriously delicious experiences under the sun. At Salt Side Down Chocolates we’ve been doing chocolate and wine pairing events at wineries, weddings, and everywhere in between for a while now. But our latest venture is by far our favorite.

You can now meander your way over to the amazingly unique Fritz Underground Winery in the lovely Dry Creek Valley and indulge in a chocolate and wine pairing flight of four truffles and wines. We’ve worked closely with the folks over at Fritz to develop the perfect pairing flight with four of their finest limited reserve wines. Their knowledgeable staff will lead you through the flight, teaching you how to taste and how best to enjoy the experience.  Needless to say you’ll have a memorable afternoon you won’t soon forget. Call, email, or just drop by and schedule your chocolate and wine pairing afternoon today!

Here’s the menu to further entice you:

2008 Reserve Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

Tasting Notes:  Aromas of black cherries, ripe plum open up to subtle hints of pomegranate, cocoa and tobacco. Rich in texture with balanced acidity the wine expresses flavors of cherries, plum with lingering flavors of cocoa powder. The wine finishes with firm bold tannins.

Paired with . . .

Summer Twilight:  Strawberry and Pomegranate infused 65% dark chocolate truffle garnished with cocao rouge dusted Maldon sea salt. Locally sourced strawberries and pomegranate tea join with fresh local cream and butter to create a rich and bright ganache. The luscious dark chocolate is sourced from a fair trade organic farm in Columbia. The deep, long, slow chocolate flavor is accented with light fruity and spicy notes. It has a mild acidity that balances nicely with the bold tannins exhibited by the Pinot Noir. The cacao rouge dusted sea salt adds a touch of brightness to further enlighten the pairing.

2008 Reserve Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley

Tasting Notes:  Hand-crafted from 30 year old vines grown on the Estate, this wine is a selection of the best barrels from our Zinfandel. Stimulating aromas of cranberries and ripe fig explode from the glass, followed by black cherries and subtle spices. With balanced acidity and firm soft tannins this Zinfandel expresses flavors of cherries and blackberries with underlying anise and violets.

Paired with. . .

Licorice Spice:  A unique blend of licorice, anise and spices are blended with fresh local cream and butter and 68% dark chocolate to produce an unexpected truffle ideal for pairing with a bright and bold Zinfandel. This lovely dark chocolate is sourced from Sur del Lago in western Venezuela, South of Lake Maracaibo. Sur del Lago’s criollo and trinitario hybrid heritage, with dominant criollo genes, create a complex and memorable chocolate. The criollo ancestry produces a delicate chocolate of a lighter color than other chocolates – a radiant, rich red in the case of Sur del Lago. There are deep red fruity notes, sometimes described as berry or cherry-like. With a natural acidity, this chocolate brightens the tastebuds and marries perfectly with the stimulative properties inherent in this zesty Zinfandel. A delicate dusting of melt-in-your-mouth Flower of Bali sea salt adds the perfect touch of soft saltiness to inspire a deeper savoring of this pairing.

2008 Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Creek Valley

Tasting Notes: The 2008 Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is a true express of terroir. Grown on the hillside next to oak and redwood groves, this wine has aromas of red and black currants, cranberries, blackberries with subtle hints of cedar, fire roasted marshmallows and forest floor. Bright acidity draws you to flavors of currants, dried fruits and baking spices. Firm bold tannins lead to lingering earthy tones.

Paired with . . .

Exotic Chai Tiger:  A bold and robust Cab deserves a strong and full-bodies truffle. Rich and dark chai spices, including cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, chicory, and cocoa nibs, are infused into fresh local cream and then blended with a deep dark Peruvian chocolate. More subtle than other 65% dark chocolates, this “Nutty” chocolate is pure and complex, with the rich flavor of roasted nuts accented with hints of dark roasted coffee and toasted biscuit. A light embellishment of smoked fleur de sel further brings forth the complexities of the pairing.

2008 Late Harvest Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley

Tasting Notes:  The Late Harvest Zinfandel is hand-crafted from 30 year old vines grown on the Estate. This wine is bursting with aromas of cranberries, ripe fig, sweet cherries and subtle dark chocolate. This wonderfully balanced dessert wine expresses flavors of cherries, blackberries, and raspberries.

Paired with…

Cherry Cola Float:  A sweet finish reminiscent of a childhood favorite. Fresh local cherries and natural kola nut extract enliven a 58% dark chocolate from Ecuador. This lighter chocolate exudes a rich smoothness with hints of vanilla throughout. Very slight fruity and spicy notes linger with a fragrant cocoa finish. The voluptuous mouthfeel and gentle sweetness of the Late Harvest marries nicely with the docile acidity of the cherries and cola flavors in the truffle. With just a touch of Tahitian Vanilla fleur de sel to invigorate your tastebuds, this pairing is certainly thought-provoking

Maria Sharapova vs. Serena Williams

We were proud sponsors of The Bank of the West Tennis Classic this past week, which is in its 41st year and is the longest-running women-only professional tennis tournament in the world. We provided the players with boxes of some of our most popular chocolate truffles, which I imagine is what fueled the very high level of play (Gatorade can only take you so far; salt and chocolate bring forth a whole new level!).

It was truly a wonderfully run event and the weather was lovely. We were able to attend several matches throughout the week and enjoyed seeing old and new players alike. Indeed,

Ayumi Morita

watching the powerful play of Ayumi Morita was very exciting (we hadn’t heard of her before; she’s certainly one to watch in the future), as was the sold-out final on Sunday, which Serena Williams won  7-5, 6-1 over third-seeded Marion Bartoli.

Seeing as our truffles were part of the players’ gift bags, our hope is that Serena, Maria, and Marion all had a chance to enjoy our truffles. Though it could be that their coaches, handlers, or significant others were the real recipients of the truffles (these girls are in amazing shape . . .and they probably don’t get that way by snacking on truffles). Either way, hopefully the word will continue to get out about our chocolate truffles and soon they’ll be in gift bags at Wimbledon and Andrew and I will be sitting next to William and Kate in the Royal Box. What? It could happen! . . . or at least a girl can dream.

Serena serving to Bartoli: 111mph

 

Mmm… rice noodles! We love a good bowl of rice noodles, so of course we couldn’t resist lending to the 35 Điện Biên Group. If only we could go and visit all of our Kiva loan recipients; oh what a feast that would be!

Here’s a bit more about the 35 Điện Biên Group:

35 Điện Biên Group

Mrs. Tình operates a food restaurant selling rice noodle. She is requesting a loan to purchase materials to make processed food to sell.

Tình is 54 years old and she is married with three children. She is the leader of a three member group, the 35 Điện Biên solidarity group. Tình lives with one dependent in Thanh Hoa city, an urban town in Thanh Hoa province.

In 2009, Tình joined Thanh Hoa Fund for Poor Women to improve her business. Tình has successfully repaid one loan from Thanh Hoa Fund for Poor Women. Tình has been involved in this business for five years. The main hardship that Tình faces in her business is the lack of capital.

With her business profit, Tình hopes to make enough money to provide for her kids, for her children to do well in school, and for her children to find a good job.

Matcha powder and Maldon sea salt add a punch of color to these bright Basil Truffles

This time of year is all about trying new things and enjoying the  fresh flavors of summer.

As such, this week I decided to go out on a limb and try making basil truffles. Our favorite farmers over at New Family Farm in Sebastopol supplied us with some lovely fresh organic sweet basil at the Occidental Farmers Market last week. They’d recently indulged in a tasty basil ice cream and thought that a basil-chocolate combination might prove particularly titillating to the tastebuds.

My initial reaction . . . why the heck not?

My next thought, however, was a bit more business minded. Indeed, though I’m all for strange and unexpected truffle flavors, I’ve found that I can’t go too too crazy or else people won’t even take a sample, let alone buy a box. To be sure, sales at the farmers market often correlate quite closely with the weirdness level (less controversial flavors, like coffee or vanilla, sell very well, while Umami or garlic often bring more Yuck Faces than dollars). Therefore, though my creative chef side is always excited to try new flavor combos, my businesswoman side prefers to play it safe.

Luckily for you adventuresome chocolate eaters out there, my creative side often wins out 🙂

The result this time is actually just on the cusp of weirdly delicious. I personally am reminded a bit of pizza, but the dark chocolate (72%) and sea salt do just enough to bring forth a sultry sweetness that the truffle comes off more like dessert than dinner. I added a dusting of matcha green tea for a punch of color, though the bitterness of the powder acts as a nice foil to the sweetness of the chocolate and basil.

All in all, I’d say I’m pretty happy with this basil truffle experiment. We’ll see how many of our farmers market faithful will take the plunge!

 

Summer warmth, bountiful farmers markets, fresh produce, and yes, new chocolate truffle flavors! This is such a lovely time of the year, particularly for new flavor inspiration.  Stop by the Occidental Farmers Market tonight to try some of our freshest new flavors (which are also perfect for Father’s Day!), including:

Sweet Raspberry

Fresh local organic raspberries

Creamy Milk Chocolate

Fig Balsamic Vinegar

Local Goat Butter

Ingredients: Fresh Organic Clover Cream, 38% Cacao Single-Origin Milk Chocolate (“Kokoleka” Couverture: cacao beans, pure cane sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin, milk, vanilla beans), fresh raspberry puree, local European-style goat butter, fig balsamic vinegar.

Meyer Lemon

Local Meyer Lemon Olive Oil

Fresh Lemon Zest

Creamy White Chocolate

Limoncello Liqueur

Chardonnay Smoked Fleur de Sel

Ingredients: Organic local Clover Cream, 38% White Chocolate (cacao beans, pure cane sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin, milk, vanilla beans), Meyer Lemon infused olive oil, Limoncello liqueur (contains sulfates), organic local European-style butter, smoked fluer de sel.

Milky Coffee

Luscious Milk Chocolate

Kahlua and Kettle One Vodka

Tahitian Vanilla Fleur de Sel

Ingredients: Fresh Organic Clover Cream, 38% Cacao Single-Origin Milk Chocolate (“Kokoleka” Couverture: cacao beans, pure cane sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin, milk, vanilla beans), organic European-style butter, Kahlua liqueur, Kettle One Vodka.

Spiced Dark Chocolate

68% Single-Origin Organic/Fair Trade TCHO Dark Chocolate

Scotch Whiskey and Drambuie Liqueur

Cocao Rouge Dusting

Ingredients: Organic Local Heavy Cream, 65% Cacao Single-Origin dark chocolate (Origin: Ghana; cacao beans, pure cane sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin, vanilla beans), schotch whiskey (contains sulfates), drambuie liqueur, local organic European -style butter, cacao rouge dusting, sea salt.

If you can’t make it to the market, we do delivery for free throughout Sonoma County and ship in insulated shippers throughout the summer to all 50 States.

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