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Emily’s Top 10 Chocolates for 2014

Chocolate News & notes

The holidays are upon us and it is time to start talking gifts! Our chocolate corner is bursting with a worldly array of chocolates and confections, sure to suit most anyone on your gift list. To help spur the sweet spirit, I’ve made a list of a few of my favorites (although it is only a small percentage of our chocolate offerings!)

1. Askinosie Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Askinosie Peppermint Bark

It is no wonder this artisanally made peppermint bark made in Springfield, Missouri is a much anticipated delight in the Deli every holiday season. Shawn Askinosie layers dark single-origin chocolate with buttery single-origin white chocolate and tops it all with all-natural crushed peppermint from Denver’s Hammond’s Candies. Shawn describes his special treat as “bean to bark”, due to the chocolate he incorporates into his recipe. He uses his complex 72% Mababu,Tanzania chocolate, which is a result of a special educational project, Chocolate University. In addition Askinosie is one of the only chocolate makers in the U.S. to produce single origin white chocolate, which he presses in his shop on a machine he had built special for their factory. Makes a cheerful gift or an indulgent confection to keep all for yourself!

2. Veruca Chocolate Grown Up Gelt for Chanukah

Veruca chocolate gelt
Enjoy the tradition of Chanukah gelt a bit more deliciously! Gold and silver dusted disks from Veruca Chocolates in Chicago, are formed to look like Judean coins circa 40 B.C. As Mo Frechette of Mail Order says “The real treasure is their flavor” and this year we have them available in three sophisticated flavors: milk chocolate, dark chocolate with crunchy nibs, dark chocolate with crystals of sea salt. A great gift for every day of Chanukah!

3. Pralus Pistachio Diabolical Bar

Pralus Pistachio Diabolical Bar

A new addition to our shelves from one of France’s premier chocolate makers Francois Pralus. This intense bar is a unique treat made of 75% rich dark chocolate brimming with creamy pistachio paste and speckled with roasted pistachios. This unassumingly packaged bar, weighing in at over a quarter pound, makes for an impressive gift or I recommend slicing in crossed sections for a perfect addition to a festive fruit and cheese plate at your next party.

4. Big Picture Farm Goat Milk Caramels

I am smitten with these handmade caramels from a small family farm in Vermont. These soft & creamy caramels are crafted using rich milk from a happy herd of pasture-raised goats, lovingly tended to by farmers Louisa and Lucas. Originally makers of aged goat’s milk cheeses, the couple soon began tinkering in the kitchen and developed a smooth and buttery caramel with a complex earthy sweetness. You will find them packaged in a gift-worthy box adorned by adorable illustrations of the goats, cleverly drawn to highlight each of the animals’ individual characters.

5. Dandelion Chocolate Single-Origin Chocolate Bars

Todd Masonis and Cameron Ring craft their chocolate in a small factory in the Mission District of San Francisco. They carefully source beans from small farms and use a simple recipe of just cocoa beans & sugar, which highlight the flavor nuances of the bean and specific roast given to each of their single origin chocolate bars. Each unique batch is limited edition, numbered, signed and wrapped in decorative gold-flecked Indian paper.

6. Poco Dolce Toffee Tin

Poco Dolce Toffee Tin

The name Poco Dolce translates from Italian as “just a little sweet”. Owner, Kathy Wiley has created just that – an indulgent and addictive confection with the perfect balance of salty, savory and just the right amount of sweet. The packaging might be modest, but inside each tin you will find a whopping half pound of award-winning hand-crafted buttery toffee, with a sublime texture enrobed by bittersweet chocolate. ‘Espresso’ features toffee infused with house made espresso while ‘Popcorn’ is just that – freshly popped popcorn folded right into sea salt toffee.

7. Mindo Chocolate Makers Ecuadorian Drinking Chocolate

We are incredibly fortunate to have Mindo Chocolate Makers right in our backyard, in Dexter, MI. Our newest addition to our shelves, from our friends at Mindo is a rich drinking chocolate. After several test batch variations, and I’ll admit delicious taste tests, Barbara Wilson at Mindo Chocolate Makers concocted for us at Zingerman’s a decadent 77% dark drinking chocolate which is delicately floral, has a nice acidity and has a pleasant lingering finish. A flavorful and well balanced hot chocolate, perfect for cozying up during the cold wintery evenings ahead.

8. Enric Rovira Bombolas

These flavorful nuggets of goodness immersed in chocolate are crafted by Barcelona’s whimsical chocolate artisan, Enric Rovira. Available in two tempting varieties: Candied orange pieces, enveloped in 70% dark chocolate and gently dusted with confectioner’s sugar or Spanish Largueta almonds caramelized and dipped in dark chocolate and rolled in cocoa powder.

9. D. Barbero Tripolino Chocolate Covered Nougat

D. Barbero Tripolino Chocolate Covered Nougat

Made by the Barbero family since 1883, this traditional treat comes to us from Asti, located in a region of Italy known for its particularly flavorful variety of Piedmont hazelnuts.Their toasty torrone is loaded with the region’s lush roasted hazelnuts (over 51% of the recipe!). Their not-too-sweet treat is crisp and crumbly in texture, delicately aromatic and lightly sweetened with honey from beehives, which are nestled among the hazelnut trees. Once cooled the nutty slabs of torrone are smothered in extra-dark chocolate.

10. A Custom Box of Chocolates!

A Custom Box of Chocolates!

Delight those on your gift list with a custom box of handmade confections. The truffle case at Zingerman’s Next Door’s is brimming with a tantalizing assortment of hand-crafted bonbons, confections and treasures. Come peruse the selection or let one of our staff gather together the perfect assortment of flavors and textures. It is not an easy task to pick a favorite, but let me highlight a few to get you started: Chocolate in Chelsea’s Chocolate Mousse (whipped chocolate ganache, with a divine texture coated in dark chocolate); Sweet Gem’s Chocolate Covered Pate de Fruit (one nibble into the rich chocolate reveals juicy French-style fruit candy made with Michigan fruit); Chocolat Moderne’s Baby Bourbon (milk chocolate & single-grain bourbon whiskey from NY’s Tuthilltown Spirits); and Grocer’s Daughter’s Pomegranate Ginger (oozing with flavor; pomegranate extract, fresh grated ginger all dipped in dark chocolate).

Admittedly, the above list is but a tiny tip of our incredibly alluring chocolate iceberg. As always, if you’re still hunting for that perfect something and need a little assistance, our knowledgeable staff is ready and more than enthusiastic to show you their favorites and help you find a special gift for everyone on your list.

Yours in Chocolate,

Emily Case
Zingerman’s Chocolate Specialist

Food, Food Artisans

The Ten Top Secrets of Buying and Cooking Great Pastas

Rustichella Egg Laganelle

Featuring special guests Rolando Beramendi, Gianluigi Peduzzi, and Ari Weinzweig!

Please join us on Thursday, November 13, 630pm for a very special event!

We’re very fortunate to welcome  not one, but two of the powerhouses of the traditional pasta world joining Zingerman’s co-founder Ari for journey through the history of Italy’s greatest pastas.

Gianluigi Peduzzi is a third-generation pasta maker from the Abruzzo, whose Rustichella pasta line has long been one of THE best in Italy and the US. At his side we’ll have chef, importer and pastalogist extraordinaire Rolando Beramendi whose excellent palate and passion for traditional Italian food have significantly altered the food scene here in the US.

Gianluigi, Rolando and Ari will guide you through a tasting of 6 pastas starting with the very first Rustichella pasta ever brought into the US.

Here’s the evening’s pasta plan direct from Rolando:

1- Whole Wheat Penne, our first pasta ever imported into the US, so I think we will serve it very simply as aglio, olio e peperoncino. This was the recipe that was then written on the original Penne bags!

2- Linguine tossed with the simplest tomato sauce. And we’ll add some grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano. Simple and direct, so we can really taste the flavor of the pasta.

3- Orecchiette which we we’ll serve alla Pugliese, with broccoli rabe and sausage. This pasta calls for something hearty.

4- Egg Pappardelle will help everyone taste the difference and supple texture of an egg pasta. We’ll serve it with some melted butter, and chopped mushrooms or dry porcini.

5- PrimoGrano Sagne a Pezzi so Gianluigi can talk about his 0 Km project, which is intended to aid the recovery of local agricultural system. PrimoGrano is a 100% Abruzzo product, traveling zero distance from sowing to collection. We’ll also talk about the grains we use and what a difference they make in the flavor.

6- ZeroTre is one of our latest projects. It’s a kid’s pasta, and we’ll talk about growing up eating pastina and serving alphabet pasta in chicken stock. It’s my favorite comfort food.

This is a once in a lifetime event in Ann Arbor and guaranteed to take the quality of your pasta cooking up to the level of Italy’s best chefs!

reserve your seat here

See you soon!

pasta

Food, Food Artisans

Valentine’s Day Chocolates at Zingerman’s Next Door

Top Picks from Emily:

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    • Pralus’ Chocolate Pyramids and Mini Pyramids — This pyramid of 75% chocolate, composed of some Pralus’ tropical origins, offers an exotic, chocolate-y vacation. Taste your way from toasty espresso Ecuador to jammy Madagascar. Break each tasting square of the Miniature Pyramids in half and you’ve got a romantic getaway for two!
    • Enric Rovira Spanish Drinking Chocolate — What better way to cozy up with your loved one than with an intoxicatingly thick & rich hot chocolate? – Available in sweet and smooth Traditional 55%; bittersweet and decadent Amargo 70 % dark chocolate.
    • Baking Chocolate — Looking to delight your sweetheart with a homemade indulgence? We recommend taking a simple recipe and seeking out the best ingredients you can find. Using these knock-out baking chocolates in your Valentine’s treats has been known to induce swooning. Choose from:Michel Cluizel Minigrams (chocolate drops) available in milk, 63%, 72%, 85%, or white. Askinosie Cocoa Powder. or Mindo Chocolate Maker’s Baking Disks.
    • Pralus’ Diabolical Bar —  One bite and you’ll understand; this is true love. Hazelnut & almond cream, dotted with whole Piedmont hazelnuts tucked inside milk chocolate.
    • Fran’s Salt Caramels —  A perennial favorite here at Zingerman’s, copper kettle cooked caramels, dipped in either dark and topped with grey salt or milk chocolate and smoked salt.
    • Chocolat Moderne Chocolate Covered Cherries —  Amarena Mon Amour! Joan specifically selects Italian Amarena cherries for their pleasantly tart flavor; they plump up beautifully during a bath of vodka syrup before being sealed up in a pearlescent dark chocolate shell. Available by the piece, as well as in ribboned 12-piece coral gift boxes.
    • Custom Box of Chocolates —  Our truffle case will be lovingly overflowing with confections of all kinds, ready to be for your sweetheart’s delight. Come visit us in the Next Door Chocolate Corner where we’ll craft your dream box!

chocomarshmallow

chocostrawberries

  • Chocolate Dipped Strawberries —  Plump ripe strawberries dipped in fine chocolate, adorned with either white chocolate, toasted coconut or slivered almonds.

Pre-order Valentine’s Day Chocolate Dipped Strawberries and Chocolate Covered Marshmallows, call 734-663-3354. Only sold in the truffle case this time of year, a real treat! Available for pick up at Zingerman’s Next Door: 2/13 through 2/16.


Valentine’s Day Chocolate & Bourbon Cocktail Hour at Zingerman’s Events on 4th – TWO Seatings!

Join us on Valentine’s Day for a sample flight of bourbon hand-picked by our very own in-house aficionados, paired with chocolate and confections made by Joan Coukos of Chocolat Moderne. The perfect complement to a dinner with your sweetheart.

reserve your 6pm-7pm seat here

reserve your 8pm-9pm seat here


Chocolate and Cheese Tasting at Zingerman’s Creamery

Join us on Valentine’s Day at 6pm for a night of tasting delicious handpicked cheeses and freshly made chocolate. We welcome special guests from Zingermans Candy Manufactory to bring the worlds of sweet & salty together for a mind-blowing chocolate and cheese event of a lifetime. With cheeses ranging from nutty, hard-crystalized Goudas to fresh, buttery-soft ripened cheeses, and fresh chocolates made especially for the event! Don’t miss it!

reserve your seat here

Food, Food Artisans

Cheese of the Alps

An evening celebrating mountain cheeses with noted cheese expert, Jonathan Richardson

Cheese of the Alps

Join Jonathan and the Zingerman’s Deli cheese folks this coming Wednesday, November 6, 630pm – 8pm, for a discussion of Alpine cheese making. Throughout the talk we will taste a selection of mountain cheeses that Jonathan helps us source and light nosh on the side. Space is limited to 30 guests.

Don’t miss this unique event!

At Zingerman’s Next Door Upstairs, 422 Detroit Street.

Call 734-663-3400 or reserve a seat online!

Food, Food Artisans

Don’t Miss the 9th Annual Piazza Zingermanza!

Piazza Zingermanza!!

It’s our Free Italian Street Fair!

This coming Saturday and Sunday, August 17th & 18th, 11:00am-3:00pm!
On the patio in between the Zingerman’s Deli and Zingerman’s Next Door

Piazza Welcome

Schedule:
12pm – Pio Tosini Prosciutto di Parma Slicing
1pm – Mozzarella Making
2pm – Parmigiano Reggiano Cutting

Parmcut

Our annual August tradition of transforming the Deli’s Patio into an Italian Street Food Fest is one of the highlights of the year. Come and watch as we cut those 80 pound wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese into approachable chunks. Witness as we turn curd into delectably soft balls of mozzarella. Taste all manner of wonderful treats from Italia!

Get your fix of Prosciutto- sliced to order. We’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves, but they’re all firmly rooted in the traditions of the Italian gastronomic powerhouse. It’s an event not to be missed!

Check out the photos from previous years! 

See you there! 

Food

A Brief History of Valentine’s Day (with treats!)

“So, fall asleep love, loved by me… for I know love, I am loved by thee. ”
– Robert Browning

This coming Thursday, February 14th, is Valentine’s Day, a holiday that we associate with romantic love, flowers, and candy. But, how and when did this holiday begin? And why do we celebrate l’amour with Valentine’s Day cards and gifts of sweets?

Valentine’s Day, or more accurately, Saint Valentine’s Day, (or the Feast of Saint Valentine) began as a liturgical festival celebrating the life of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. According to early church history, there were several martyrs who went by the name Valentinus, but there are three specifically celebrated on February 14:

  • Valentine of Rome was a priest in Rome was martyred about AD 269. His flower-crowned Skullof Saint Valentine is exhibited in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome.
  • Valentine of Terni became bishop of Interamna, and was martyred about AD 197 by Emperor Aurelian.
  • The Catholic Encyclopedia also speaks of a third saint named Valentine who was martyred in Africa on February 14. Not much else is known about him other than his head was preserved in the abbey of New Minster, Winchester and venerated as a holy relic.

A popular legend surrounding Saint Valentine concerns his arrest for performing Christian marriages and spreading the ministry.  Condemned to death, he was imprisoned, and while awaiting execution he is said to have healed the blind daughter of his jailer. Just before he was led away, he wrote her a farewell note, which he signed, “Your Valentine,” thus providing the inspiration for our tradition of Valentine’s Day notes.

Another legend says that Saint Valentine performed clandestine marriages for Roman soldiers, who were forbidden to marry at that time. In order to remind the soldiers of God’s love and to remind them of their Christian vows, Valentine cut paper hearts out of parchment, giving them to the soldiers and other persecuted Christians. This is often cited as a possible source for our use of the heart as a symbol of Saint Valentine’s Day.

The first recorded association of Saint Valentine’s Day with romantic love comes from the medieval English poet Geoffrey Chaucer in his Parlement of Foules (1382):

“For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.”

(“For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”)

Chaucer wrote the poem to commemorate the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia, both just 15 years old at the time of their wedding. Several other medieval authors mention Saint Valentine’s Day, including Shakespeare, and John Donne. But, it was Edmund Spenser in The Faerie Queene (1590), who supplied the an early version of ‘roses are red’:

“She bath’d with roses red, and violets blew,
And all the sweetest flowres, that in the forrest grew.”

Clearly, the words resonated, because we then see the recognizable form in Gammer Gurton’s Garland (1784), a collection of English nursery rhymes:

heart-cupid“The rose is red, the violet’s blue,
The honey’s sweet, and so are you.
Thou art my love and I am thine;
I drew thee to my Valentine:
The lot was cast and then I drew,
And Fortune said it shou’d be you.

From there, it was just a small step to 1797′s The Young Man’s Valentine Writer, a compilation of verses intended for use by those unable to compose their own sentiments. Eventually, printers began to reproduce these verses on card stock with romantic illustrations, creating the first direct ancestor of our modern Valentine’s Day card.

Since that time, Saint Valentine’s Day has established itself as a significant holiday, and traditions have expanded to include gifts of flowers, candy, treats, and many other affectionate tokens. And while the focus of the holiday may have shifted over the centuries from a liturgical expression to a gesture of love and affection, the current sentiment is clearly a treasured tradition that shows no signs of fading.

We’ll leave the flowers and cards to their respective industries, but we know a little something about good food. And Zingerman’s has many delicious sweets and treats available to help make your Valentine’s Day memorable.

The Zingerman’s Bakehouse will make you a delicious Valentine’s Day Cake, completely covered in hand-piped pink butter cream rosettes and a sprinkle of sparkle. Inside are tempting layers of buttermilk chocolate cake and a kiss of strawberry butter cream filling.  We also have Valentine’s Day Heart Cookies, delicious butter cookies with a hint of fresh citrus zest, and adorably decorated with fresh vanilla fondant that spells out expressions of love and affection.  Or, perhaps a loaf of heavenly Chocolate Cherry bread, made with the best Belgian and French chocolates and dozens of Michigan dried cherries!

The Zingerman’s Deli has more delectable Valentine’s Day sweets than a person could possibly eat in a sitting – but it would sure be fun to try! We’re currently taking pre-orders for our wonderful Chocolate Dipped fresh strawberries and Chocolate Covered fresh vanilla marshmallows from the Zingerman’s Candy Manufactory. Available for pickup at Zingerman’s Next Door 2/12, 2/13, & 2/14.  Call 734-663-3354 to pre-order.

chocolatestrawberries

The Deli also carries a huge selection of luscious chocolates, bonbons, truffles, and many other distinctive confections from Grocer’s Daughter, Chocolate Moderne, Sweet Gem Confections, Chocolate in Chelsea, and Fran’s Chocolates, and, of course, Zingerman’s Candy Manufactory. Let us create a custom gift box for your sweetie!

Don’t forget, you can find Zzang Bars and other Candy Manufactory delights at any of the Zingerman’s businesses! Adopt a delicious Zzang bar today!

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt. “
– Charles M. Schulz