Results tagged Italian from David Lebovitz

Domori Chocolate

Gianluca Franzoni is the master chocolatier at Domori. He’s the person who is responsible for selecting the beans and roasting them to perfection. Cacao beans, like coffee, need to be roasted to bring out their flavor. Domori uses no vanilla in their chocolate, unlike other chocolate companies, since Gianluca believes that vanilla masks some of the flavors he coaxes out of the beans to make his chocolate. I immediately liked him because of his dedication to making truly fine chocolate….(and perhaps because his shirt would match the colors of my web site.) Aside from making great chocolate, the Italians really know how to dress.

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As you can imagine, Domori is a chocolate company that is rather revolutionary…and in a country that’s no stranger to revolutions. If you’ve been to Italy, you know the Italians are lively, creative, wonderful people. And they’re not afraid to do things a bit differently.

When Gianluca told me that Domori chocolates were so smooth that even the 100% bar of unsweetened chocolate, called Puro, was not the least bit bitter, (even without the sugar,) I frankly didn’t believe him. But Puro was indeed great. It’s made from 100% Sur Del Lago beans, which is used in some of the best chocolates I’ve tasted. For the hard-core chocolophiles, crunchy dark Ocumare cacao beans, known as Kashaya, are roasted whole and meant to be eaten just as they are. I mean, what kind of people pack up whole roasted cocoa beans and for hard-core chocolate-lovers to eat? The same people who brought us gelato, gianduiotti, and panna cotta.

As you can probably tell by now, I love Italians!

Domori is one of the few chocolate companies that actually owns their own plantations in Venezuela. Most of their beans are criollo hybrids, which is considered the best cacao available today. (The term ‘cacao’ refers to the beans used to make chocolate, and ‘cocoa’ usually refers to the powder made from the beans after they’re roasted and pulverized.)

We tried a sample of all of their chocolates, guided by Gianluca….

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Esmereladas is their chocolate made from Ecuadorian cacao, that had a surprising tropical banana-like aroma and flavor. Rio Caribe, from their Venezuelan plantation, had an earthy, musky character while the Sambirano from the island of Madagascar (where a lot of vanilla is grown) had a raisin-sweet taste and a gorgeous red hue. Perhaps the most intriguing was the Puertofino, which was made from a rare, pure Ocumare cacao, which we all agreed had a delightful creamy taste, even though it was pure bittersweet chocolate with no dairy added.

If this is making you crave Domori chocolate, you can order their chocolate (as well as Tuscan chocolates from Slitti and Amadei) online at Chocosphere.

So onward in my pursuit of more great chocolate here in Tuscany.
Next I’ll visit Slitti, which aside from blending their superb chocolates, they roast amazing coffee…which says a lot, since each time I sip an espresso in Italy, I fall into a deep trance-like state.
In the walled city of Lucca, where we’re staying, I’ve had a chance to stock up on Amadei chocolate as well. Amedei specializes in very rare cacaos, such as Chuao and Porcelana and is another of the world’s great chocolates.

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Eating in Tuscany includes focaccia flatbread permeated with olive oil and sprinkled generously with coarse salt, soup made with the Lucchese wholegrain known as farro, and I’m stockpiling delightfully bitter chestnut honey that I drizzle over toasted and buttered (salted butter, of course) levain bread. If you should ever visit Lucca, the best place to buy Tuscan foodstuffs is Antica Bodega at 31, via Santa Lucia. The wine, of course, is excellent, inexpensive, and generously poured in restaurants and enotecas.

Tomorrow I’m taking my group to a villa in the mountains for a wine and olive oil tasting before we return to Lucca to shop for local specialties at Antica Bodega, including sharp, sheeps-milk Pecorino cheese and well-aged, syrupy Balsamic vinegar, Parmesano-Reggiano and olive oil.

And of course, lots more chocolate.

Related Chocolate Links

Chocolatiers and Chocolate Makers

Theo Chocolate

Valrhona Chocolate

Chocolate FAQs

John-Charles Rochoux

Regis Chocolate

Patrick Roger

La Maison du Chocolat

Strawberry Granita Recipe

There is nothing simpler to make than a fresh fruit granita. For me, the only hard part is finding real estate in my freezer for the pan to stir it up in.

But springtime means strawberries. And lots of ‘em!

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Years ago, taste was hybridized out of commercial strawberries in favor of firmness for long-term storage, but many farmers are growing varieties of berries that have lots of flavor again. No matter where you live or shop, in supermarkets or greengrocers, you can determine quality by taking a big sniff. Where you find fragrance, flavor is sure to follow. And I find tossing strawberries in a bit of sugar and letting them stand for a bit releases their juicy sweetness and the berries become a rosy-red color.

Fraise des Bois

Granita is basically a shaved ice. No ice cream machine is needed. All you need is a fork. The mixture is simply raked while freezing. Once frozen, spoon the icy crystals over vanilla ice cream, or piled into a glass by itself, perhaps with a complimentary fruit sorbet, or maybe a dollop of sweetened whipped cream.

Strawberry Granita
About 6 servings

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop (Ten Speed Press)

  • 1 pound (450g) strawberries, rinsed and hulled
  • 3 tablespoons (45g) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) water
  • optional: 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1. Slice the berries into pieces. Toss the strawberries with the sugar and let stand for at least one hour at room temperature, or up to four hours. The strawberries will be very juicy and a lovely red color.

2. Place a non-reactive shallow metal or glass tray in the freezer (a long, rectangular lasagna pan works perfectly, but you can improvise.)

3. After one hour, puree the strawberries and their juices with the water in a blender. Taste, and add a squirt of fresh lemon juice if desired. At this point, if you want to strain out any seeds, you can. (I do.)

3. Pour the mixture into a shallow pan in the freezer. Check after 30 minutes. As the mixture begins to freeze, use a fork to scrape the frozen puree that froze around the edges into the center. Return to freezer.

4. Check the granita every 30 minutes, and scrape again as before, perhaps with a bit more vigor as the mixture hardens. It should take about 2 hours of freezing and scraping to finish completely.

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Related Links and Recipes

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Roquefort and Honey Ice Cream

White Chocolate Sorbet

White Chocolate and Fresh Ginger Ice Cream

Wondering which ice cream machine to buy?…
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