Author Archives: ben

What is good chocolate?

Ever since I saw a dessert battle involving chocolate and pears on Iron Chef about 2 or 3 weeks ago, I have been wondering what good chocolate is. The chocolate used on that episode was Valrhona (pronounced “Vah – roh – na”). If Iron Chef featured that chocolate then it must be good!

I googled to see what the fuss is all about. One site pointed me to a shop in Subiaco that carries this brand of chocolate. The shop is a gourmet food store called ‘Simon Johnson – Purveyors of Fine Food’.

Simon Johnson carries a wide range of Valrhona chocolate for both eating and cooking and also carries a variety of other brands of chocolate as well, and since I’m narrow minded and only interested in Valrhona I didnt remember the rest 😦 .

I bought these to try:

  1. Gran Couva, $11.55, 75g block, (64% Cacao, Single Estate from Trinidad, 2006 Vintage)
  2. Ampamakia, $11.55, 75g block, (64% Cacao, Single Estate from Madagascar, 2006 Vintage)
  3. Palmira Fino Criollo, $11.55, 75g block, (64% Cacao. Single Estate from Venezuela, 2006 Vintage)
  4. Tanariva, $9.95, 75g block, (33% Cacao, Madagascar)
  5. Jivara Lait, $9.95, 75g block, (40% Cacao)
  6. Cao Grande Organic, $11.00, 100g block, (39% Cacao)

valrhona chocolates
So far I’ve only tried the Cao Grande Organic, and right now, it is the best chocolate I have ever eaten. I don’t really know how to describe how good it is because I have never eaten good chocolate. I guess I won’t be eating any of these in a hurry because they cost about $10 per block. As I am typing this I’m wondering ‘why did I spend 60 dollars on chocolate?’. I guess I’m paying for the experience to see what good chocolate is really about. More to come on how the other chocolates stack up in the near future (when I could afford to eat them!).

More information @ The Nibble (http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/chocolate/house-tour.asp)

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A chef’s best friend

Ok here’s my first attempt at blogging…

The chef’s knife, also known sometimes as a cook’s knife, in my opinion is the most important item in the kitchen. You are able to cook something with inadequate cookware but you won’t be able to prepare the food to cook without a chef’s knife, unless you are eating eggs or microwaveable tv dinner or something haha. The chef’s knife is designed to perform a variety of food preparation tasks, such as cutting, chopping, slicing, dicing and mincing. Most people will only need this one knife for food preparation. I won’t bother explaining anymore so I’ll list a wikipedia link here. I’ll just post some tips for buying one in this post.

Some alternatives to a chef’s knife (and won’t go into depth explaining) are:

1. Chinese chopping knife (“Cai dao”) – All purpose knife used by the asians for food preparation, guess most of you will know what this is. Most of the ones here are cheap and nasty, and personally I prefer a normal chef’s knife, but thats just me.

2. Santoku (means “3 uses” in japanese) – Fairly popular these days amongst women (possibly due to marketing), santoku’s don’t have a pointy tip like chef’s knives and are a generally smaller and less “scary” looking. Does not add value if you already own a chef’s knife. I would buy one for my future wife or something LOL, when the time comes, so I don’t have to cook dinner. 😉

Here are my chef’s knives, don’t ask why I’ve got 4! Well, I have a variety of sizes for different tasks and on my mood. But really you only need one! 😛

my chef's knives
Top to bottom:

1. Mizuno Tanrenjo Akitada Hontanren Gyuto (24cm, ~$330 – insert asian price shock here eg. my mum: “Ai-yo~!“)

2. Global G-2 Chef’s Knife (20cm, $129.95)

3. Misono Molybdenum Chef (18cm, ~$80)

4. Global GS-3 Chef’s Knife (13cm, $89.95)

Like all things, a quality chef’s knife does not come cheap. They can start from $50 dollars and can cost thousands. Think of it as a lifetime investment. A good quality knife will easily last over 20 years (Does your car last 20 years?). Forget those tv infomercials where you get “10 knives for $49.95 and when you pay by credit card in the next half hour, you get an extra set free!” For the most part, you will never need 19 of those knives anyway. The more expensive a knife is, does not mean it is better either. Every knife is different so try each one to see which ones you are comfortable with. A 20cm/ 8inch knife is plenty for most. Check out the weight, balance, and construction of the knife. Wusthof, Henckels, Victorinox, Messermeister, Global, and Shun are good brands you can find locally. Personally I prefer japanese over german makes because they are lighter, thinner and sharper. However, they are require more maintenance and care compared to their german counterparts.

Reviews for some of the above here.

I have listed down some places in Perth where you can find some quality knives. A good strategy is to go to the store and have a feel of the knife, and order them online to save money!

Local stores:

1. Cut it out – 413 Murray St, Perth

http://www.cutitout.com.au/
2. Kitchen Warehouse – See site for locations

http://www.kitchenwarehouse.com.au/

Online stores:

1. Kitchen Warehouse (1week delivery)

http://www.kitchenwarehouse.com.au/

2. Everten Online (1 week delivery)

http://www.everten.com.au/

3. Japanese Chef’s Knife (1-2weeks delivery)

http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/