Face it, my name tells you little of who I am or what I do. It’s kind of foreign sounding, but otherwise uninformative.
But a year and a half ago, when I was making croissants and gougeres for L’Etoile’s Saturday market café, I met a then fellow baker, Gail Ambrosius.
Here’s a sad thought: since our time together baking at L’Etoile, Gail has commandeered her passions (for chocolate making) and is now establishing herself as (I think) one of this country’s leading chocolatiers...
...at the same time that I have commandeered my passions (for writing) and am now establishing myself as an eccentric small-time blogger, restlessly surviving life in a Midwestern university town. Impressive.
Ah well, had I been born as Nina Chevre, I may have tried my hand at making goat cheeses. Nina Lewandowska? Slated to marry and settle in America, land of opportunity for hookin' up with someone with a nice, short last name. Timing is of essence: I needed to get to it early, before historic forces would pressure me to keep “my own” (i.e. my father’s) name and not offer, instead, a chance to flee from the oppressive and wicked fate of having such a horribly long and unattractive last name.
I had told Gail when she was just getting going with her chocolate passion a year ago that I would stop by and take a look at her chocolate making facility. Okay, so it took me a while to actually visit her there (I finally showed up this morning), but in the interim, I have been sampling her goods (now sold in Madison at Steve’s Liquor and Café Soleil, as well as through the Net here). If you have never eaten one of her truffles, you are no true chocolate hound. Don’t even pretend.
Gail merges flavors in ways few have dared. Her finest (in my opinion): maharajah curry with saffron in a dark Dominican chocolate; earl grey tea sprinkles with organic lavender buds in a Venezuelan chocolate; peony and rose tea also in a Venezuelan dark; and special for this holiday season: a dense dark chocolate with cranberry and meyer lemon. That’s MEYER lemon and if you’ve never sucked on a MEYER lemon then you are a babe in foodie explorations and should rush to your nearest purveyor while the season lasts.
But first, try one of these, made by the queen of the dark, heavenly stuff:
earl grey tea and lavender buds
cranberry and Meyer lemon
my own box, traveling with me for the holidays