Wednesday, February 20, 2008

It's The Little Things

Here's one thing that makes the chocolate business worthwhile: helping people show their appreciation. Case in point. A harried unfamiliar customer comes into the shop during the Valentine's insanity. She does not know what she wants and appears impatient. "Stand in line", I think to myself. Luckily I give her my time and careful attention and discover she wishes to bring candy to a nearby nursing home for the staff to thank them for their care of her father. She eventually agrees to buy chocolate covered strawberries. I explain that they are different, special, and will not be soon forgotten. She asks me to just put some in a box, but she does not know how many or which kinds of chocolate (our antique display case holds no less than 12 varieties this week). Obviously, she is stressed out and finds these decisions to be overwhelming. I decide to step in and gently take control. I select a straightforward variety of 3 different strawberries for visual appeal (about 2 dozen in all). I display them attractively, but simply on a silver platter, wrap it securely in cellophane, and tie it with a huge bow. She pays me, I hand it over to her, and she's out the door. "Next!" Back to the crush of people at the counter.

Here's the wonderful part. One week later the customer returns. I happen to be near the front door when she walks in. We greet each other and she moves no further into the shop. She says "I bought chocolate covered strawberries last week..." I brace myself for a complaint. My mind starts to race. "...and I want to tell you how much they were appreciated. Apparently they were delicious. Thank you." I manage to thank her for taking the time to come in and let us know before she adds: "Dad died two days later." I tell her I'm sorry. She has more to say; she is slightly tearful, but finishes by letting me know how grateful she was for our help with the strawberry platter. Then she turns and is out the door. Little things like that make me feel really good about going to work in a chocolate shop. Every day.

Monday, February 18, 2008

track it back? where?

OK, I'm just figuring this one out, or maybe not...
I just read a helpful blogging tip, and you can read it too, here: trackbacks = backlinks?

To Stuff or Not To Stuff

All year round we dip strawberries in chocolate. Mostly just on the weekends, and anytime for special orders. Milk chocolate and dark chocolate. Somtimes in the white stuff. The real fun begins when they get drizzled with a contrasting chocolate or dipped in tasty things like coconut or chopped nuts. They look so very nice. Remember, we tend to eat with our eyes first. But Suzanne also likes to stuff the strawberries. She has concocted a special cream cheese filling. We hull the bigger berries, hollow them out just enough with a paring knife, then cram the filling in. Off they go to the tempering machine to get a chocolate bath. They are really delicious. But this year we tried a new filling. We called them double chocolate strawberries. They sold like hotcakes. We used a special secret ganache that our chef Allan created for the "Valentine Love Truffle". I vote for stuffing every time.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Second Time's a Charm

Thanks to my new friend Doc, over at The Doc Report, I've begun a new blog. This one's to be exclusively about chocolate. Buying it, tempering it, making it, eating it, selling it, blooming it, seizing it ...I can go on and on. We'll see how this progresses compared to my original blog, marketfreshchef. That was created in another platform, movable type. This one proposes to be easier perhaps, if not more well-known. I don't know yet. But I am certain it will help get all you chocolate lovers over to our retail site Yummy stuff to be found. The chocolate's great, come on in!