The kraken slithers in its watery realm and the dire wolf scents the air...yes, indeedy, HBOs new season of Game of Thrones is amassing its vast marketing army for full scale invasion in Spring. Of course I started it with my garden picks for the characters (ok, that's a lie. HBO probably came up with merchandising ideas on their own...) and now HBO has (reportedly) tapped Ommegang to produce Iron Throne Blond Ale to coincide with the start of season 3.
GoT Geek digression...while various reporters seem to think the beer is a clear reference to Joffrey, I think it could just as easily be Cercei, or even Tommen.
Taza Chocolate in Somerville Ma.
5 years ago Alex Whitmore and partners Larry Slotnick and Kathleen Fulton (also Alex's wife) started this mesoamerican-style bean-to-bar chocolate factory. And true to their vision, this chocolate is handmade from start to finish. They buy their beans in the DR, Mexico, Belize, and they recently added Bolivia. (note: if you get a chance, try the 87% bolivian choc bar side by side with the 80% DR...then you'll really see what terroir means to the cacao bean.)
Their beans are fermented, which means, like all things fermented, flavor is amped. And then they get roasted (in the fabulous Willi Wonka machine pictured below. don't you want one? I do. and it's RED!) The beans are then stone ground, on mexican stone mills that Alex hand chisels himself (check out the pic below of him holding one.) Impressive.
While at the Craft Brewers Conference, Lassa and I stumbled into the Pink Boots Society, http://pinkbootssociety.org/, annual meeting. Quite unlike the 5/1 men/women ratio in the rest of the conference, the room was jammed with women in brewing; brewmasters, QA specialists, pub owners, marketers, retailers, distributors, etc. There were seasoned pros and newbies.
Sebbie Buhler of Rogue Ales (and label model on Rogue Chocolate Stout) introduced us as culture founders, and urged all pink booters (ies?) to discover cheese. And afterward, we got the chance to meet many of them.
No need to bleat on about quality or style, just keep a case around and Mom and Baby will both perk right up!
Something big happened in 2010. It's the original kitchen table issue; the food that goes on that table. At homes and in restaurants everywhere, meals with mysterious origins are being replaced by food that has a direct to the dirt it came from pedigree. Economic handwringing, the prospect of the US population's girth expanding beyond our landmass, even give-it-a-name-so-we-can-call-it-a-fad punditry failed to put a dent in the steady drumbeat of demand for good food. Cheese, of course, is the essence of good food. No fuss, no frills, just food at its best.