Posts Tagged ‘chocolate


my vicarious blow for workers rights


Guillermina Castellano passed her citizenship test today! She’s a major activist for domestic workers’ rights here in San Francisco, and she wanted citizenship partly to feel more secure in her activism. I’d been tutoring and advising her (along the lines of “Tell yourself, ‘I’m already a citizen,'” and “Remember to breathe”) off and on for the last couple of months.

Since the 1930s, when Congress passed laws protecting workers’ right to organize, setting the federal minimum wage, making rules about overtime pay and maximum hours, and establishing other rights we now consider basic (or take for granted), domestic workers and farm laborers have been left out. These workers were majority black at the time (and these have remained jobs for minorities ever since), and the Southern Democratic caucus insisted on their exclusion in exchange for their support of the legislation. While the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, and the Campaign for Migrant Worker Justice are fighting to secure these rights for the people who grow your food, Guille and her camaradas in the National Domestic Workers Alliance are working to do the same for the people who cook it for you (or for your neighbors).

My contribution isn’t much, but I’m going to go enjoy the chocolate that Guille gave me as a thank-you gift.


three summer salad recipes

July in San Francisco is cool and foggy, but I have been hearing cries of “too hot to cook!” from friends on the east coast. (The Texans, one presumes, are blithely air-conditioned.) These minimal-heat recipes might help; they’re even useful to San Francisco summer chefs, since we have all of this glorious fresh produce to use up.

Carrot and blueberry salad: Grate three medium carrots. Add a handful of blueberries. If you can stand the heat, toast a half teaspoon of cumin seeds and then a handful of slivered almonds and add these to the salad. (If not, omit the toasting.) Chop the leaves from a dozen or so sprigs of parsley and add them, too. Zest half a small lemon, add the zest to the salad. Put some salt in a glass or jar, then juice the lemon over it. Stir to dissolve the salt, then add extra virgin olive oil to make a dressing. Mix the salad and dressing and let sit a while. You can add a dollop of strained yogurt to this when it’s time to eat. Yield: my lunch yesterday. Good for two as a side salad.

Watermelon and cherry tomato salad: Cube a small watermelon. Halve a pint of cherry tomatoes. Add slivers of red onion, crumbles of feta, and a good handful of spearmint, chopped. Season with coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper. J-P and I gorged ourselves on this last night; you could probably serve it as a side salad at a dinner for 4-6 people.

Green salad with cheese, mint, and honey: I had a version of this at the Fountain Inn on the Isle of Wight. Combine mixed greens, cubes of cheese (they used Wensleydale; I’m going to try it with feta tonight), and cherry tomatoes. Add a generous helping of chopped spearmint and some sweet fruit (they used grapes; I’m trying nectarine tonight), and dress the whole thing with just a little honey. Season with salt and black pepper.

In other news, we tried Montezuma’s milk chocolate with nutmeg last night. With five flavors tried, this is the first that we haven’t absolutely loved. It’s not bad at all–it’s just a good but unremarkable milk chocolate with the tiniest hint of nutmeg. We wished the nutmeg was bolder.

As to what makes good versus bad milk chocolate: Montezuma’s ingredients list implies that, although sugar is the dominant ingredient by weight, it can’t make up more than about 42% of their milk chocolate bar. Cocoa solids are 34%, and milk solids clock in at 22.5%. For comparison, Hershey’s milk chocolate is 53.5% sugar, leaving the cocoa matter and milk solids to fight it out for most of the remaining 46.5%. Hershey’s ingredients list indicates that there’s more milk in Hershey’s than either cocoa butter or “chocolate” alone, but whether the latter two combined make up more weight than the milk is an open question. The short answer seems to be that good milk chocolate has a higher percentage of cocoa matter and a lower percentage of sugar than bad milk chocolate.

Pictures from our trip to England and Finland here and here.


Montezuma’s chocolates: the best English junk food

Before you protest that chocolate transcends junk food and is therefore equally good across cultures, I would like to say this to you: apple-flavored gummies covered in milk chocolate.

Maybe it’s your thing, but those convinced me that at least the Japanese can do chocolate terribly wrong.

The English, on the other hand, get chocolate surprisingly right:

We first had Monty’s chocolates when Ginny brought some to us as a thank-you gift for putting her up during a visit to Boston. She brought three: dark chocolate with chile, dark chocolate with orange and geranium, and milk chocolate with peppermint and vanilla. The orange and geranium was easily my favorite, and the chile chocolate was perfectly respectable. J-P and I are both wary of milk chocolates, but Montezuma’s milk with peppermint and vanilla blew us away. Not too sweet, not too minty, but very flavorful and super creamy.

You can’t get them to ship their chocolates to the States, so we had to wait a couple of years to get more. J-P went to a conference in London last year with strict orders to return with more Montezuma’s, or not at all. So it was tense when his carry-on got pulled for a search before his return flight. The guards said that they thought the chocolates might be explosives, and that even though they were clearly chocolates, they would have to take one bar for “testing.” J-P asked that they take the milk chocolate, and they did. Its loss was sorely felt back home.

All of this gave me one goal for English souvenirs: more Montezuma’s. I spied a Montezuma’s store as we traipsed through a glass-ceilinged arcade of shops, and I dragged J-P (who hadn’t yet noticed it) there by the hand, chanting
“chocolate, chocolate, chocolate.” It was a tough decision which ones to get, but we settled on the Radical Stack. It had the three we had tried before, plus intriguing new flavors.

So far we’ve eaten the milk chocolate, chile, and lime. Super creamy, just like the other milk variety we’ve tried, with the barest hint of chile but terrific sweet lime flavor. We’re looking forward to trying the rest, and working hard not to eat them all at once.


link round-up

More Questions of Authenticity and Fusion
Members of the Daring Kitchen take on Robb Walsh’s recipe for stacked green chile enchiladas. Australian suggestions for simulating tomatillos include gooseberries with sugar and green tomatoes mixed with tamarind paste, lime juice, and prune juice. Robb Walsh’s report on the results of the challenge links to recipes from London, the Netherlands, and Canada.

Taste of Beirut reminisces about a childhood favorite, chocolate salami: a French confection made from American and Middle Eastern ingredients and exported back to the Middle East. In which of those locations is it most authentic?

The National Museum of American History’s cafe celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May) by adding Asian flavors to the menu at each of its stations. You’ll find pizza with Asian plum sauce and black rice used in a recipe that actually called for purple rice, but the title of their blog post about it proudly proclaims the exclusion of one of the oldest Asian-American fusion dishes (one with a history similar to chili gravy’s): No Chop Suey Here.

Locavores Tackle Meaty Questions
Culling the pest population in a deer-hunting class (actually, a deer skinning and processing class) in Charlottesville. Thanks to Jon of Audrey and Jon for the tip.

Mission hipsters consume another kind of pest at a cricket- and mealworm-tasting.

More Things Hipsters Do
Sell coffee from a bicycle-mounted stall.

Sell seed packets (seed bombs) from old gumball vending machines.

Follow-up: More on Arizona, Tavern on the Green, BP
Arizona’s racial profiling law raises worries about this fall’s lettuce harvest in Yuma.

New York City has revoked Dean Poll’s contract to re-open Tavern on the Green after he failed to reach an agreement with the restaurant’s workers’ union. The city is looking for a new new operator.

It’s about time: the BP oil slick has made Cake Wrecks.

Tex-Mix's Photostream