So, since I’ve moved the coffee machine’s been playing up: making sour coffee, steaming milk like an asthmatic puffin, not doing my damn laundry or the dusting! Oh… wait, got to remember that it’s not the maid… just the sweet sweet source of all coffee joy.

I finally got around to taking in to get it serviced last week and turns out everything was fine. Just a little bit of backed up milk and a couple of screws that had worked themselves loose and that was it! I picked it up this morning and now it’s back where it belongs. I haven’t had a chance to check the coffee makingness since I didn’t think it would be fixed up so soon and my order of delicious Kenyan/Zambian goodness hasn’t arrived in the post yet, but it is steaming like a tiny god again. I’ve had like four cups of just steamed milk this evening and just that is so so so good.


Being up in Swiss Cottage anyway meant that I also just had to pop in at Natural Natural and although I did manage to not spend £80 on bottled sauces and rice like I did last time, there was no way I could escape the special offer going to expire bread.

I LOVE Japanese bread, it’s like halfway between brioche and the super dodgy packaged supermarket white bread. It’s super fluffy, it’s super sweet, it’s super soft and they slice it super huge. In fact, it’s just super, that’s it! Apparently it’s more or less the same as Pullman bread… so I might have to give that a try just to see if it’s true… but I doubt it. I’m ok at breadmaking, but there’s no way I could make a bread that super. *sigh* Interestingly enough the bread I bought today was what they would call Ingirisu-Pan (English Bread) in Japan, if only it were true.

Anyway, since I did have it and I had to eat it all today I started munching as soon as I got home and I’ve only just finished up the last of it now. Amazing is one way of describing how I’m feeling right now, bloated or nauseated would be others.

Mmmmmmm…. bread and condensed milk….

Mmmm…. apocalypticly large sandwich filled with watercress and chicken and surigoma and mirin and soy sauce and rice vinegar and far too much kewpie mayonnaise. Somebody didn’t want theirs and so I’ve been forced to have two of them.

N.B. I don’t have strangely small plates/cutting boards. This bread just dwarfs EVERYTHING.

Hmmm… this post has lots of photos in it. The last one looks as though it belongs in a McDonalds menu and I’m trying to decide whether that’s a terrible thing or not.

Yay, another market day successfully completed yesterday with only a mild amount of stress and only a little disruption to my highly busy schedule of growing a butt shaped indentation in my sofa and playing far too much M.U.G.E.N. (I’ve been feeling exceptionally geeky since the post about TCHO and I had to let it out somehow).

The stall pretty much sold out of everything by 4 o’clockish thanks to loads of friends turning up again to help take the stuff off my hands and to help out selling the stuff too! It could be that some people would probably frown upon my business if they knew that all my employees were only being paid in chocolate… but they seemed to turn a blind eye for umpa-loompas so maybe I just haven’t found the clause in the International Labour Laws that says something like

“Oh, unless they’re being paid with choclate. Then you can do whatever you want, it’s all good.”

All the sour chocolatey things seemed to go down really well at the market. The umeboshi chocolates were especially popular with a pair of Japanese tourists who turned up fairly early on in the day and the very first group ever from Chocolate Ecstasy Tours came round to the stall and quite liked them too. Just to make the day even better, a guy who writes the guide to London markets came round at exactly the same time so it made me look really popular. Hahahahahahahahahaha!

Actually, now that I think about it, the chocolate tour was probably the best part of the day! I’ve never had such a crowd of people all around the stall who were super keen on trying/buying/obsessing about chocolate… it’s just a shame that in all the excitement I completely forgot to give them the cake….

The Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake

I thought for this that I’d just go and steal someone else’s recipe and point you to that… but none of the ones I could find online seemed to be as chocolatey as I like to have my cake so I just used one that’s pretty close to my normal chocolate cake, but with a whole load of sauerkraut added in and less moisture and salt to make up for it. It might get a change at some point when I try making it again, but it tasted pretty good so it probably won’t change much. I’ll be giving the other recipes out there a try just to see if I was wrong and if really is better as a more spongey and less fudgey cake. Oh and hopefully there’ll be a picture of the cake to go here too as soon as I can steal one from Alice.

(picture stolen! thankyou Alice ^_^)

150g unsalted butter

250g caster sugar

2 large eggs

100g cocoa powder

a pinch of baking soda

200g self raising flour

100g of sauerkraut (drained weight)

First off set your oven to 180 degrees C and grease up a baking tin (I think I used a 2lb loaf tin for mine) and then warm up the butter in the microwave until it’s soft (I don’t have a microwave and I used my hands… yay for health and safety!).

Rinse and drain the sauerkraut to take a little of the edge off the flavour then chop it coarsely and leave it on the side while you do the rest of the mixing up to see if any more water comes out.

Cream the butter with the sugar until it’s nice and fluffy and then beat in the eggs. Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and then beat them in a little at a time into the wet mix. Finally, mix in the sauerkraut and pour it into the baking tin.

Bake for 50 minutes and then test it by sticking a skewer in the top. If it comes out clean, then it’s done; if it’s kind of gloopy then put the cake in again until it does come out clean. You might find that the top starts to get a little hard whilst the cake is cooking and if you start feeling worried about it then just pop some silver foil over the top and everything will be fine.

Once it’s cooled down just grab a spoon and eat it straight from the tin… or if you’re feeling adventurous then a bit pop a piece on a plate and add a (un)healthy dollop of creme fraiche and a weensy bit of mustard!

I’ve just put the finishing touches to my newest chocolate creation for the market… umeboshi, vodka and two tone sesame (the white’s in the mix the black’s on the top) and doesn’t it look yummy! Completely at odds with the yumminess is that I think you might be able to forge my fingerprints off the one in the middle and use my identity to sneak into all the places that only I’m allowed to go to by virtue of fingerprint identification. Yeah, all of those places.

This week I’ve done a little changeup in the flavours for the market (I love how I can do that) since, although I love chili and cardamon chocolates so so so much, it really is a little dated and I can’t really justify calling it “adventurous” any more, which is what I do want my chocolates to be.

I really dislike how trends and fads hit the food industry as much as the clothing or music business. As soon as you find something awesome and new with serious cult appeal or edge or whatever you want to call it you find that everybody else is selling the same damn thing before you know it. I think saffron (Oh, and florals, but that’s been on its way for like a year now… just its really taking its time.) may well be the darling of the season for a while since both Paul A. Young and I hit on a combination with it in a ganache and Nobu have had a banana split with saffron and chocolate on their dessert menu for a good couple of months. I imagine it won’t be long before you start seeing it pop up more and more around and then by next year despite it’s incredible deliciousness people will look at it in my flavour list on the chocolate stall and think I’m some sorry ass second rate flavour man who can only catch on to things after they’ve already died.

Someone said that they simply weren’t interested in the chili and cardamon truffle last week because it was “old news”. What should that have to do with anything?! Either something’s delicious or it’s not, isn’t it?

I know I’m terribly guilty of only trying things once so that I can know what they’re like and then not really caring about them afterwards too…. but I defend my position by saying that I want to try EVERYTHING once and it’s just that I don’t happen to really like most things. No, that’s an outright lie. I like everything, but I think that almost everywhere screws almost everything up magnificently (Now I’m a liar and and arrogant loser, can you see my shining personality?). Almost always it seems there’s a right way of doing things and a popular or economical way of doing things and they just don’t coincide and once some people catch on to some other people doing something right then they do it too… only popularised or economised and ruin the thing’s PR for life. Look at what’s happened to poor old boeuf bourguignon… you can practically only eat if you pretend you’re doing it ironically or because of its oh-so-charming retro appeal thanks to the 80s (Thanks 80s) but it’s an awesome dish which you should go and cook! Ditto coriander and Thai food in ten years or so, mark my words! At least bistro food never had the appellation of “weird” that chili and chocolate at one time enjoyed, which is completely destroyed by any sort of popularity it attains. Anything that gets attention based upon it’s quirkiness is doomed to take a popularity plunge before too long. There are some things I do simply like above all others whilst doing my best to ignore anything external, but they really are few and far between and chili cardamon truffles happen to be one of those things and the fact that they’re going out of fashion and people will look at them like yesterday’s leftover tranny hookers before too long because they’ve fallen out of favour really upsets me.

Anyway, where I’m going with this is that the latest creation is me trying to give a whole great big hearty “fuck you!” to the food trends that may sweep by. I’m almost certain that pickled plums are never going to be the next big thing in terms of chocolate flavours… they’re just plain unappealing to Western palates, quite frankly it’s an awful choice of ingredient. Except that the chocolate is ridiculously delicious. The sesame rounds it out a touch and the base chocolate of Manjari really compliments it excellently with it’s sharp, short and sweet tones leading into the second round of pickled fruityness and vodka. YUM.

The only problem is… now that I’ve made I’ve just realised that I might be sitting on top of another rising trend without realising. I can’t see a glut of sour chocolate flavours appearing over the horizon just yet, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t waiting until I’ve got my back turned before launching themselves onto the stage and me in to mediocrity. I keep hearing positive things on the wind about chocolates with “raspberry notes” or “nice acidity” or whatever and everyone always thinks of zesty flavours in the Spring. Hmmmmm….. where can I go where fashion will never find me?

On a related note, I’ve always got sauerkraut in my fridge (it’s one of my unfashionable favourites) and so I think it’s high time I tried out some of the sauerkraut chocolate cake recipes that seem to be kicking around the internet before the sour chocolate fad takes off and it’ll look like I’m just jumping on the bandwagon.

Expect a recipe from me soon!