November 8 2010

Tempering and Temperance

When I took the job with Philips, I knew that it was going to be a big life change.  I’d been out of the corporate world for nearly six and a half years.  And while there have been adjustments, the majority of the experience has been positive.  Especially last Thursday.

Philips places a great deal of importance on Work/Life balance, and on Employee Engagement.  As such, team building “outings” aren’t uncommon.  Now, my team has been pretty damn busy since I started, so the first real outing we got to take came last week.

The view from our table at Le Garage.
The view from our table at Le Garage.

The four of us departed the Foster City office at 4:00 and drove up to Sausalito for dinner at Le Garage.  We started with a really nice Cline Carignane.  Big, fruity and tasty tasty tasty.

Learning About Chocolate!
Learning About Chocolate!

We splurged a bit because it was Shari’s birthday on Monday, so the appetizers were… indulgent.  A Brie Beignet and frisee salad with prosciutto, pumpkin seeds and a roasted walnut vinaigrette was followed by Black Mission Figs with fourme d’ambert, pistachios, mizuna, organic French prunes and a huckleberry vinaigrette, and finally a Filet Mignon beef tartare with quail egg, shallots, parsley, capers, ground mustard and grilled croutons.  The tartare was beyond amazing.  I could have eaten 3 orders of it for dinner.

Coco-luxe Chocolate Molds
Coco-luxe Chocolate Molds

We bolted from dinner and made our way over to the kitchen shared by Dragonfly Cakes and Coco-luxe for the team building part of the evening.  The awesome ladies at Coco-luxe were offering a two hour chocolate bar making class, and if there’s anything better than learning, it’s learning about chocolate.

Tasty Ingredients!
Tasty Ingredients!

The class started with a brief history of cacao, how it was discovered, how it’s processed, and where it comes from.  We all got to try raw cacao nuts, which were really tasty (if you like bittersweet chocolate), and then we moved on to the activity portion of the evening.

Everyone got three molds that had two bars a piece.  Splayed out on the table were a variety of ingredients for us to add to our molds.  Some of the choices included almonds, coconut, banana chips, pistachios, smoked sea salt, Hawaiian sea salt, pretzels, cocoa nibs, candied almonds, dried cherries, dried apricots and crushed milk chocolate bits.  There was much discussion and agonizing over what would go well together.  But eventually, decisions were made, and molds were filled.

My filled molds.
My filled molds.

My bars were the most OCD of our group, of course.  And they consisted of (from left to right):

  1. candied almonds, pretzels & pistachios
  2. milk chocolate, cocoa nibs & smoked sea salt
  3. coconut, and banana chips
  4. Hawaiian sea salt & candied almonds
  5. smoked sea salt, cocoa nibs & almonds
  6. candied ginger, dried apricot, and dried cherries
Shaken, Not Stirred.
Shaken, Not Stirred.

Once that was done, we waited in line to ladle tempered chocolate into the molds.  Once they were chocolated, the shaker table evened out the ingredients and shook bubbles out.  Then the shaken bars went into the cooler.

Gina and Shari
Gina and Shari

The other people in the class were a little amazed that the four of us were there on a work outing, but everyone agreed that it was a GREAT idea for one.  Plus, we’re really awesome, so they were jealous of our work fun and asked a lot of question about what we did.

Matt ladles chocolate
Matt ladles chocolate

Once everyone’s bars were chilling, we got to taste some of Coco-luxe’s wares, learned how to temper chocolate at home, and then had a chocolate taste test where we were given bars from three different chocolatiers and had to compare the percentage of cocoa we thought was in each one.  We got a tour of the kitchen, where we got to see the truffle coating machine and the secret storage room, and then it was time to wrap and label our bars!

WOOO!
WOOO!

The Coco-luxe crew provided foil, labels and boxes for us, and everyone went home with six hand made chocolate bars.  It was a fantastically fun evening filled with education and laughter.  If you’re looking for something fun to do with a friend or a GROUP of friends, I *HIGHLY* recommend considering this.  Also, the Coco-luxe store on Haight street does Chocolate and Wine parings… so… field trip anyone!??


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Posted November 8, 2010 by Clay in category "activities", "tasting

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