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Manolo's Food Blog - Part 59

Mr. Henry Eats Chocolate With a Knife.

To be more accurate, he pierces it with a sharp-pointed dagger and picks up the pieces with his fingers.

Chocoholics please take note: The foil-wrapped bar of chocolate is a thing of the past. Now chocolate arrives en bloc.

Mr. Henry has eaten chocolate in many ways and many places but employing a dagger is a notable first. In doing so, he has changed his life to a small but not unimportant degree.

Would not Richard Lionheart after a romp with the dauphin have unsheathed his [other] dagger to carve himself a slice of mutton or cheese? (At “room temperature” in a northern European castle, cheese must have been desirably firm, and Scotch whisky’s ancestral concoction must have been at its perfect temperature, as well.)

Did not the great Alexander himself, peckish on a hill in Ctesiphon, eat his pickled eels with a dagger? (To have conquered the known world and still not have either Scotch or chocolate at your table seems to have been more a strategic than a tactical error, wouldn’t you agree?)

This connection with antiquity comes courtesy of the elves at Scharffen Berger whose block of bittersweet 70% cacao now sits out on a dedicated cutting board next to Mr. Henry’s cheeses.

Place the dagger point just behind the edge and push firmly. The chocolate yields very slowly at first. Then, like an iceberg calving, a geological morsel falls away.

When Neolithic man pushed his thumb against a reindeer antler on the face of his flint matrix, with only modest pressure he was able to pop off a flake as sharp as glass. Like those pressure flakes, each piece of daggered chocolate has edges and points, broad smooth parabolic planes and knobbly rough patches.

However, the temptation to snarf chocolate all day long must be long resisted, else Mr. Henry seek chocoholic counseling which he cannot afford. Lying on the counter, the dagger presents a primal attraction not unlike a putter, a pool cue, a Frisbee or a yo-yo. Before the mind is engaged, the hand reaches out.

Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.

Seizing the trend towards artisanal chocolate, last year the Hershey’s empire purchased Scharffen Berger, a Berkeley outfit started by a couple of Napa Valley oenophiles eager to explore the New World’s most pleasurably addictive food. Consequently their chocolate can be found now at their own boutique on Amsterdam Avenue brightly appointed in yellow and brown like a shop from 18th-century Turin (where chocolate was first drunk together with coffee — the divine biccerin).

Mr. Henry finds it curious that nowhere on the Scharffen Berger site can you find any mention of Hershey’s ownership. No matter. Mr. Henry does not divulge all the secrets of his past, either. He supposes that when John Scharffenberger sold his eponymous champenoise company, he sold the rights to his name, too — hence the new space between Scharffen and Berger.

For the record, Mr. Henry’s name is not currently for sale.

Promiscuity and Wine

No, I am not talking about what happens after your standard frat boy has a couple of bottles of Boones Farm. I am talking about the basics of enjoying wine.

Most people like to stick with what is comfortable, choosing the same wine over and over again. For as you know, that the prospect of walking Promiscuity and Wineinto a wine shop is for many, off-putting. The choices are overwhelming, and there’s frequently an intimidating ritual involved, one that begins, “What sort of wine are you looking for?”

Although I earn my living talking about Stormhoek, that doesn’t mean that I’m not a bit promiscuous about my wine choices, and not only because Stormhoek isn’t yet widely available in the United States. (Don’t worry, that will change soon.)

So, be promiscuous with wine.

Try, taste, stray, be adventurous: Decide what you like for yourself and ignore the “experts”. (They’re not as objective as they make themselves out to be.) Bordeaux one night, California Cabernet the next… enjoy the decadence of promiscuity. Your ‘significant other’ will love you for it!

As Manolo will tell you, with wine, as with fashion, experimentation is half the fun.

Friday Food Miscellany

Manolo says, here are the few links to the things culinaria that may perhaps amuse.

The Best Baguette in Paris

Pig Candy

Reading Rachael Ray

Manolo and the Rachael Ray

Manolo says, the Manolo he has the very complex relationship with the Rachel Ray.

On the one of the hands the Manolo finds the Rachael Ray to be supremely annoying, in the same way that the Manolo finds the Katie Couric to be annoying, which it is to say, that the Manolo disapproves of the bossy/bitchy person who hides behind the perky/nice exterior.

Yet, at the same of the time, the Manolo finds that the Rachael Ray she has the trainwreck quality; it is the rolling disaster, and many persons are injured, but you cannot take your eyes off of it.

And yet, on the third of the hands, there is this evidence from the Willamette Week Online.

In town to tape segments for another of her shows, Tasty Travels, Ray had already bought five pairs of shoes before spending time at the Pearl Bakery and Powell’s….

And so one must suspect that the Rachael Ray loves the shoes, and the loving of the shoes, it goes far with the Manolo.

And yet, on the fourth of the hands, there are the “cookbooks” in which the Rachael Ray suggests the making of the ultra-rapid meals out of the mundane items like the frankfurters and the canned sawdust, things you would serve to your family if you hated them.

And then there is the elimination of the Tony Danza, which, yes you feel sorry for the Tony Danza, such the befuddled and mostly harmless character, but this, is it not the sort of televised mercy killing? Something that ends the suffering?

So, as you may see, it is the love-hate-hate-love-disgusted-by-appalled-by sort of the relationship, in which the Manolo still finds that he cannot cease watching the Rachael Ray, if only to see what latest atrocities against fashion and common sense she has committed.

Oil of Anderson

Manolo says, 100% Pure Silicon!

Manolo’s Food Blog!

Manolo says, finally, the Manolo’s much anticipated Food Blog, it is here!

The Manolo trusts that you will find in this place much to entertain and amuse you.

Indeed, the Manolo himself, he has many reasons to be pleased with what is, and will be happening at this blog.

In the first of the places, the Manolo he has managed to secure the blogging and editing services of his good friend, the Mr. Henry, who is, in the grand tradition of the Manolo bloggers, the possessor of the powerful and entertaining writerly voice. Even the better he knows the food and cuisine, and has the discriminating and refined tastes that mark the person of quality.

Although, do not take the Manolo’s word for this. Instead, read the Mr. Henry’s introductory essay, Mr. Henry’s Appetite.

In the second of the places, the Manolo has been lucky in convincing the Jason of the Stormhoek Winery to write about the wine for this blog.

The Jason he is not only supremely knowledgeable about the wine, he is also one of the geniuses behind the amazing success of the Stormhoek Winery, the wines of which will be introduced to America later this year, introduced with the most unusual campaign: 100 Geek Dinners in 100 Days.

In the third of the places–or perhaps this it belongs in the first of the places–the Manolo most pleased because he has finally the place where he can talk about the second great love of his life, after the shoes, and that is the food.

It is not the secret that the Manolo is something of the gourmand, and the food and the drink are often the topics of his undivided attention.

And so what could be better than to have the special place where we may come together to enjoy the fine food and drink and the pleasant and amusing company of our friends.

Memoirs of a Sushiphile, Part II

When Mr. Henry has sushi one of the first things he needs to decide is what he is having. That is, what he is having to drink with tonight’s sushi.

Nectar of the Sushi Gods

As an appropriate accompaniment to sushi, sake is an obvious choice, and as it happens there is a perfectly respectable bottle already open in Her refrigerator. For lunch, green tea is always advisable because at this point in the career of Mr. Henry’s liver even half a beer at lunchtime leaves him feeling as if someone had thrown the sea anchor overboard. Forward progress is impeded and, heaven knows, he needs to be getting along with his life goals each and every day, and this includes afternoons.

Scotch is Mr. Henry’s personal favorite with sushi and with nearly everything else, for that matter.

A healthy pour of Oban or Talisker over ice cubes made from filtered water (more genius from the engineers at Sub-Zero) provides an ideal imbibational choice – strong enough to cut through the lingering fire of powdered wasabi, yet without the sugars of wine or the starches of beer.

White rice is as close to library paste as Mr. Henry’s educated palette will accept. When the short-grained is served chewy and lightly vinegared, however, scotch efficaciously clears away any lingering bits of hamachi or maguro, leaving the mouth ready to greet the next wiggling arrival.

When you elect to switch away from wasabi-based sauce toward a bit of eel, however, you need a more powerful cleansing of the palette, a thorough and abrupt alteration, the commencement of a new chapter in the evening’s unfolding novella. Here is where your choice of drink is key, and here is where you can change your whole meal, indeed, your whole approach. You might even say that your choice of drink determines your cultural identity, your very ethnicity.

Memoirs of a Sushiphile, Part I

Fast Food Fashion

Manolo says, to inaugurate this new blog, here is the post that marrys the Manolo’s two great passions, the food and the fashion, although what is shown below is not exactly to the taste of the Manolo.

These pictures they are from the Fall 2006 collection of the designer Jeremy Scott. Let us be generous and say that perhaps he is striving to be whimsical, rather than ridiculous.

Perfect for wearing to the Sons of the Italy Columbus Day Ball!

If the soda jerk, he gave the Manolo the huge cone with only the two tiny scoops, the Manolo he would send it back and demand the new one.

Mayor McCheese, The College Years.

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