We've been carrying the Castelas for a couple of years now--it's big, green, grassy, alert, and alive--but in all in a sophisticated and stylish way. One of the beauties of good olive oils is that the more you get into them the more you discover how much variety there is to explore. Which is why I'm excited to have this compelling counterpoint to the Castelas--whereas the former is front loaded and very full flavored, the Seignore de Baux is softer, more sensual, gentler, smooth, suave, mouth filling but buttery, delicate, and, again, delicious. Great for fish, vegetables, egg pastas. I love them both equally.
There isn't really enough of Provence's finest to go around. It contributes less than one percent of world production, and France overall accounts for a VERY small segment of the world's production. While I don't know that quantities of Provencal oil will ever grow very much--there's just not enough land and so much more to be gained financially from wine or tourism--there has been very good work to improve the quality of the oil we can get.
The sweetness of the oil makes it particularly interesting to use in the context of desserts. Drizzle it with honey over sections of fresh citrus fruit. It's great on potatoes, delicate greens, and really nice on fish. A special, really good, newly arrived gift for any oil-lover.
Three Amazing (No Joke) Chocolates from Claudio Corallo
Really, really good and really special chocolates made from organic cacao from the feistiest, most determinedly talented cacao fanatic you'll find. Claudio Corallo has been farming cacao on the West African islands of SaÃµ TomÃ© e PrincipÃ© for 20 years now and I truly think his chocolate is about the best around right now. There are a lot more than these three so come by and try them all.
The Raisin d'Etre
Pardon the bad French punning but I needed a catchier name than "Chocolate with raisins soaked in the liqueur of the cocoa pod" that Claudio's used to christen it. The main thing about it is that it's really, really very darned great. I kind of think of it as an artisan, African, organic, chunky bar. It's fat bar of 70-percent cacao chocolate studded with raisins that have been soaked in liquor distilled from cacao pulp. There's a deep wineyness in the dried fruit that blends really well with the liveliness of the cacao. It's an especially time-consuming and difficult chocolate for Claudio to make which makes me extra appreciative of just how deliciously good it is. This is seriously fun chocolate. Don't miss it!
80 Percent Cacao Chocolate Bar with Coarse Sugar Crystals
An amazingly good very dark chocolate bar that's completely at the other end of the spectrum from the smooth, creamy, long-conched European-style chocolates that most of us are so familiar with. Don't get me wrong--those are lovely too. But this bar is something seriously special and exceptionally good. The first bites you get have a bit of delicate crunch from the coarseness of the cacao and the sugar crystals, but then it becomes almost velvety as it melts across the tongue. No vanilla or soy lecithin to get in the way of the flavor of the fine cacao Claudio and crew are crafting. It's dry in the mouth in the way that you'd experience a big red wine, but then remarkably clean and creamy at the end.