On September 25th we hosted our very first Tijon After Hours, a new nightly series where we'll partner with cool local businesses for fun, one-night-only events that will evoke a new sensory experience. "After Hours" is a result of our long-standing desire to host more special events, collaborate with other businesses, and involve the community. And after months of planning, what a success it was!
The theme of the event was aphrodisiacs, so we focused on sexy scents, sensual aromas, and the biggest culinary aphrodisiac of them all: chocolate! Dallman Fine Chocolates from Del Mar provided five different dark chocolate bars, and Tijon staff member (and trained pastry chef) Vanessa guided the tasting. Here, Vanessa explains...
Thursday's After Hours event featured local artisan chocolate from Dallmann Confections. Dallmann Confections began in 1954 by Guenther Dallmann who opened his pastry shop in St. Gilgen, Austria. His pastry shop was so well renowned that his children and eventually granddaughter, Isabella Valencia, expanded the family business to San Diego in 2006. Isabella was classically trained in Europe, specializing in fine chocolate making.
A quick history of chocolate: Chocolate comes from the cacao (cocoa) tree, which grows 20º above and below the equator, similar to coffee. In fact, the scientific name for the cacao plant is Theobrama cacao which is derived from Greek for "food of the gods"; from θεος (theos), meaning "god," and βρῶμα (broma), meaning "food". Chocolate got this name because it has a rich history for its use in ancient Central and South American rituals as offerings to deities and for consumption by priests. Archeological evidence of cacao was discovered in modern day Chiapas, Mexico dating as early as 1900 B.C. Chocolate was introduced to Western world in 1527 by the return expedition of Hernán Cortés and the rest is history!
Chocolate is the end-product of an intensive process. First, the ripe cacao fruit pods are harvested by hand and opened by a machete to expose the cacao seed which is encased by pulpy mucilage. The thick rind is then discarded, the pulp and cacao beans are collected to ferment, which deepens the flavor of the cacao beans. After they are properly fermented, the beans are then laid out to dry before they go through a process called winnowing, which means that the pulp is husked off. At this point, the beans are ready to be transported to the roasting facility where they are broken open to extract cocoa butter. The remaining portions of the beans are referred to as cacao nibs which are then ground into a fine paste called the chocolate liquor. The liquor is then incorporated with a fat (cocoa butter or even milk fat solids), vanilla and sugar and is further emulsified together in a process called conching. The chocolate is then ready to be poured into molds, confectionary making or to be tempered with inclusions such as dried fruit, herbs, spices, citrus oils or zest, salt, or even bacon!
The dark chocolate bars that were chosen for last Thursday's tasting are the following: the Maracaibo Classificado (60% Cacao Bar from Venezuela), the Provence Bar (locally grown lavender & Fleur de Sel fused in a 65% cacao bar from Madagascar), a Cardamom & Orange Zest bar (72% cacao), the Valencia (60% bar fused with star anise, cloves & cinnamon), and lastly for sheer kicks and giggles, the Bacon & Smoked Salt Bar (60% cacao). These chocolates were chosen because they correlate with the perfume oils that we have on our Perfume Organ. Along with the tasting, we set up water, tart Granny Smith apple slices & oyster crackers to aid with palette cleansing between tastings in addition to chocolate tasting note forms to serve as prompts.
And here are some pictures from the event! Make sure to attend our next After Hours on Thursday, October 23rd, where we'll be partnering with Finch's Bistro & Wine Bar for a French-themed night revolving around wine!