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Archive for November 15, 2016

GIFT OF THE DAY: Chocolat Moderne Chocolate Bars

Our favorite chocolate bars have long been everything in the Avant Garde Bars line from Chocolat Moderne.

We discovered the company in 2005 and have been nibbling away since. Joan Coukos’chocolates, made with Valrhona chocolate, are always innovative in flavor and design.

Even if we weren’t so beguiled by the Jackson-Pollack-like hand-painted designs on the bars, we’d still go for the flavor.

At $8 each, these are wonderful stocking stuffers. Give an assortment of flavors for a larger gift. If you’re in New York City, the retail shop is open Monday through Saturday from 12 to 6 (7 West 20th Street, Suite 904).


  • Bazaar Bar: Dark chocolate bar filled with house-made almond marzipan blended with creamy white chocolate ganache.
  • Blood Orange Bergamot Bar: Dark chocolate bar filled with caramel flavored with fresh blood orange juice and scented with oil of bergamot.
  • Gunsmoke Bar: Milk chocolate bar filled with caramel laced with smokey mezcal and sea salt (our current addiction).
  • Lemon Up Bar: White chocolate bar filled with tart caramel made with fresh lemon juice.
  • Peanut Pizzazz Bar: Dark chocolate bar filled with salted peanut and milk chocolate praliné blended with flecks of caramelized sugar.
  • Smoked Sea Salt Bar: Dark chocolate bar filled with sea salted caramel and finished with crystals of smoked Welsh sea salt (the different types of salt).
  • Solbeso Mi Mucho: In Valrhona’s new Dulcey chocolate, a.k.a “blonde” white chocolate made by toasting the milk powder before making the chocolate (somewhat akin to the caramelization of dulce de leche). It’s filled with caramel blended with sea salt, unsweetened chocolate and Solbeso, the first spirit to be distilled from the pulp of cacao.
  • Spicy Hazelnut Gianduja Bar: A Dulcey chocolate bar filled with dark chocolate hazelnut gianduja blended with sea salt, chipotle, ancho chili and cinnamon.
    Holiday 2016 Avant Garde Bars

  • Cranberry Orange Bar: Dark chocolate bar filled wtih soft caramel made with cranberries, essential oil orange and a touch of morello cherries.
  • Gingerbread Bar: Dark chocolate bar filled with caramel infused with gingergread spices.
  • Peppermint Stick Bar: Dark chocolate bar filled with rich dark chocolate caramel laced with peppermint.
  • Pumpkin Pie Bar” Dark chocolate bar filled with milk chocolate caramel blended with organic pumpkin purée and aromatic pumpkin pie spices.

    Chocolat Moderne Avant Garde Bar

    Chocolat Moderne Avant Garde Bar

    Chocolat Moderne Avant Garde Bar

    [1] Peanut Pizzazz Bar. [2] Smoked Sea Salt Bar. [3] Sobeso Mi Mucho Bar. [4] The caramel inside each square (all photos courtesy Chocolat Moderne).


    Artisan chocolates often sell out for the holidays. Head to

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Thanksgiving Cheeses

    Jack O'Pumpkseed Cheese

    Cranberry Chevre Goat Cheese

    Gouda With Pumpkin Seeds

    Pumpkinseed Gouda Cheese

    [1] Jack O’Pumpkinseed, a mountain-style cheese from Switzerland. [2] Cranberry goat cheese log from Montchèvre. [3] Pumpkin spice goat cheese log from Montchèvre. [4] Another Pumpkinseed Gouda from The Netherlands, at Sam’s Club.


    If you read our articles on Halloween Cheeses, you know that many of them are colorful representation of the Harvest Season.

    They certainly work for Thanksgiving. But for a smashing Thanksgiving-specific cheese plate, check out these holiday-themed cheeses: a blue, a goat, and semihard cheeses (Cheddar, Gouda, Swiss).

  • Blue Cheese. No cranberries or pumpkin seeds here, but blue cheese lovers will appreciate the hot chiles mixed into Carr Valley Glacial Wildfire Blue, an artisan cheese from Wisconsin.
  • Cranberry Cheddar, Jack, Stilton and Wensleydale: different retailers will carry one or the other. Seek them out: They’re sure to be a hit.
  • Swiss-Style: Jack O’Pumpkinseed. This washed rind cow’s milk cheese from Switzerland has chopped roasted pumpkin seeds in both the paste and the rind. The paste is very smooth with a creamy mouthfeel. Bonus: tiny eyes. Available at iGourmet and elsewhere.
  • Goat Cheese. A number of cheese factories make fresh goat cheese logs rolled in dry cranberries. The Cranberry Chevre Log at Trader Joe’s is just $3.99.
  • Gouda-Style: From The Netherlands, Kaamps Gouda-Style Cheese With Pumpkin Seeds is a popular item at Sam’s Clubs (more information).
    The semi-hard cheeses are great for a seasonal cheeseburger.


  • Apple chips. Our favorite brand is Bare Fruit.
  • Breads. cranberry orange, cranberry walnut, herb, nut, semolina
  • Fall fruits. apples, figs, pears, persimmons, pomegranate
  • Plate garnish. Decorate with cinnamon sticks, fresh sage, pomegranate arils, star anise
  • Pumpkin butter.
  • Seasonal crackers. We especially like the Oat Cakes and Rye Cakes from Effie’s Homemade.
  • Spiced pumpkin seeds. You can buy them (our favorite is Superseedz or season and roast your own.

    You can bake raw, hulled pumpkin seeds at 300°F for 45 minutes until golden brown, or roast them in a skillet on the stove top.

    Ingredients For 1 Cup

  • 1 cup (5 ounces) hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Spices of choice
  • Fine sea salt to taste
    Preparation: Oven Technique

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 300°F. Toss the seeds in a bowl with the melted butter and salt. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet or in a baking pan.

    2. BAKE for about 45 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.

    Preparation: Skillet Technique

    1. PLACE the seeds in a dry heavy skillet, 9- to 10-inches, over moderate heat. Stir constantly until the seeds are puffed and golden, 4 to 5 minutes.

    2. TRANSFER to a bowl. Stir in the oil and seasonings; toss thoroughly until all seeds are coated.


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