Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Caramel Applepalooza


Oh yes, turtle loves, it's here.

                   Caramel apple season is upon us, and BOY does it look tasty!
Plain, Fleur de Sel, Milk Chocolate, Pecan, Peanut, So many to choose from!


We are heading into our sister shop's truly crazy season, and we couldn't be happier about it.  To get ourselves warmed up, Amy and I did a pop up shop at Far From the Tree Cider.  If you've not been, go.  These folks make a seriously gorgeous product, and the place has a very cool vibe.
 
Sometimes being a chocolatier means hanging out at a cider house on a Friday night. 
I made a truffle out of one of their September tipples, "Jam Session" -- milk chocolate ganache enrobed in dark.  The cider has a hard time competing with the chocolate, so while it doesn't exactly taste like cider, it's super tasty.  There's a little smoky note in the cider, and that seems to come through in the truffle, but that's about it.  Totally fun and tasty experiment. I've been having one for dessert after lunch all week, and I am not mad about it.

Get 'em while the gettin's good!  Available in both shops.  Ask for them if you don't see them in the case!
October in the Salem shop means all sorts of extended hours starting Thursdays through the weekend.  Check our Facebook page for updates throughout the month.  Also, this October, we are participating in the Haunted Bizarre Bazaar, so folks can visit us in the great outdoors as well as in our little jewel box of a shop on 318 Derby St.

Things are a little less spooktacular in Gloucester, but it's a good thing:  we need all the time we can get to churn out those chocolates for over the bridge, as well as on island.  Whichever shop you land in, you're bound to find something to tempt you in the sweetest way.

Happy Fall, folks.  Losing the light doesn't seem so bad if you've got a treat in hand.

PS: so far I have harvested 17 supremely delicious tomatoes.  I do not plan on doing anything chocolate-y with them whatsoever.  They are perfect just the way they are.
Not sick of them yet!


Thursday, August 30, 2018

Bittersweet

Aw, August, you've been such a pal!  Really!  There's no need to rush off!

Labor Day Weekend: the last 3 day hurrah of summer, here upon us once again.  The weather has been unseasonably warm here on the North Shore these past weeks, amplifying the disbelief that the season is winding down.  Not the best weather for chocolate making (or eating?? just soooo melty!), but we soldier on...

Soldiering on, Turtle Alley toffee style.  Hard to be me...


Living in Gloucester, Labor Day weekend is among my favorites, as it is the weekend for Schoonerfest.  My husband and I have sailed in it, sailed along with it, just soaked up the harbor as it fills with schooners, as well as boats of all kinds.  It's such a wonderful event for the city, and it's just grown so much in the past 34 years, really inspiring.  On Sunday morning when the Parade of Sail takes place, it's almost possible to imagine Gloucester Harbor as it once was, filled with fishing schooners back in the day.  Just love it.

There's all sort of other things going on in the city, too, not the least of which is a block party up on Main Street to kick the weekend off on Friday night.  What does this mean to you?  CRAZY SUPER FUN LABOR DAY HOURS IN THE GLOUCESTER SHOP! 

That's right, folks, shop early, shop late, no need to start that dreaded "back to school" (otherwise known as the "I hate pants") diet until this weekend is in the can!
Looks like the weather is going to be swell the whole time, so come and see us!

PS:  September and October are really pretty Salem - centric, so expect lots of news about our sister shop next month!

PPS:  latest tomato count:  39.  Still green.  Except for this one:
ain't she purty?

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Summer Love

Man oh man, do I love a warm breeze!  The hotter, the better.  I don't even care if it's humid.  Just a delicious hot breeze, and I'm transported.

That said, I love fall, winter, and spring, too, but right now, we are in the heart of summer.  I'm just delighted.

The shops in Gloucester and Salem are teeming with folks from all over the world.  It's so cool we have shops in such beautiful places.Those of us who live on the north shore are very fortunate people.
When winter was trying to turn into spring a couple of months ago, I got talking to one of our excellent long time Gloucester regulars.  He works at a farm part time, and was telling me how good it was to work with the soil, especially when the spring seems like it will never get here.  I asked him if the farm he works at grows celebrity tomatoes.  My husband really loves a good tomato, and I really only like one right off the vine.  In the past we've had a piece of dirt to grow a couple of plants in, and had luck with celebrities.  This summer?  Not so much. He said they sure do, so  I asked him to let me know when they were ready for planting.

At the start of June, he showed up at the shop with 6 gorgeous baby tomato plants.  Wouldn't take money for them.  Wouldn't even take chocolate! Just a really nice guy.

I planted those tomatoes, and I stuck 'em in my office window.  I get great sun there.  The plants took off like crazy.  I had to ask around about hand pollination, and do a little reading -- I've never grown tomatoes indoors.  The plants got so huge that I had to move them into the front of the store.  I do my crazy tomato lady thing, shaking and blowing on the flowers, midday, daily.  I've taught one of my coworkers how to do it on the days I'm off (I don't ask him to talk to them, though- there are certain things I just can't ask!).

Week after week, I do my thing.  I figure even if they don't bear fruit, they are incredibly optimistic crazy looking plants, and I just never get tired of smelling tomato vines, so it's all good.  Watching things grow is an exercise in positivity, as far as I'm concerned. But look.  LOOOK!!!



 I really can't tell you why this makes me so happy.  Like irrationally, stupidly, happy. I know it's a  candy store.  I know I'm supposed to be regaling you with tales of chocolate dreams and tasty new  recipes.  But really all I can talk about right now is green things, given as gifts, talked to, blown on,  gently shaken green things, who in return have decided they are going to flower, then fruit.There's a lot of things going on on this planet that are not so sweet and simple.  I'm grabbing the simple. By the end of the month, those tomatoes won't be green anymore, but I guarantee they will be sweet.

Happy summer, y'all!  I'll talk about chocolate next time.
Maybe. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Greetings from the island

Turtle Faithful!

I made a promise, and I'm stickin to it.  A post a month!
June is shaping up to be pretty swell, as far as I'm concerned.  Folks are starting to flock back to Gloucester and Salem.  The Northshore is truly spectacular; those of us who live here are beyond lucky.
Summertime means a lot of things, not the least of which are extended hours.  Also, wacky holiday hours (did you know that the Gloucester Parade is called the Horribles, and happens on July 3rd?!). There's block parties, beach days, fireworks, farmer's markets - all good things, really.  And maybe the summer weather will come and stay!
It turtle town, though, summer means the return of a couple of special treats.  We love our Strawberry Pecan Turtles in milk chocolate, and adore our white chocolate Cashew Blueberry Turtles.  These are originals to Turtle Alley, don't let imitations fool you!
In other news, it was pointed out to me by my loyal customers that there is a dearth of excellent chocolate jimmies in our area.  We've got you covered!  We use the best when making our Tulips (Brazil nut wrapped in caramel and rolled in chocolate jimmies).  I posted a video on Instagram and Facebook, and the jimmies got all the love.  SO now we are packaging them up in BPA free containers for you to grab for whatever you need them for.  I've been toying with a recipe for candied maple walnuts, it's pretty alright, maybe we should sell those too?  What do we think, folks?  Your input is welcome and much appreciated! 
I'm sure the long days and warmer temperatures will stoke my creative fires, so who knows?  There could be new and fabulous taste treats on the horizon!  
Stay tuned.  See you in July!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

So long, 2017. Hoping 2018 is sweet.

Hellloooo again!  HAPPY NEW YEAR! *cue Mayday eyeroll*

Man, 2017 was a GRIND.  So many things happening on the world stage, so many things happening in the States, just soooo much.  I find myself wishing more of it was good stuff happening.

At Turtle Alley, things were an oasis, most of the time, of sweetness.  We've got a great crew in both shops, and of course, plenty of things to do.  We came up with a couple of new things to tempt you folks, and I still have to taste-test enough to ruin dinner at least once or twice a month.  All together, a swell way to pass the hours.

I've been pretty quiet on the blogfront; I had a loyal customer mention today that she missed the blog updates, and to be honest, I do too.  It's been a busy winter, but it always is.
The winter of 2017 was marked by loss for me, however -- 1 mentor, 3 dear friends. Pretty heavy.

This week, one of those dear friends would have had a birthday.  We played a lot of tennis, ate a lot of meals, drank ourselves some fine French wines, and had the most rewarding working relationship ever. Since I first opened the doors of Turtle Alley. 


Laura Herrmann Couallier was Turtle Alley's graphic designer since day one.  That's almost 19 years.  Almost 19 years of my last minute requests for snappy ads, spontaneous sticker inspirations, brochures, window designs, sign updates, just everything.  Laura was a great designer because she was a great listener.  She was very open to all of my input.  One of the best collaborative relationships I have ever had.  A lot of this winter was spent trying to figure out how to continue without her.
Thankfully, chocolatetown is a busy place in the winter.  Thankfully I have the most delightful and supportive husband, and crew. Thankfully, winter turns to spring, the light returns, darkness recedes.  Happy birthday, chica, I miss you daily.

Pretty good reason to be quiet for awhile, no?

So let's have a bright spot, shall we?

Excellent fun news in candyland (and a big ole whoop whoop) comes from our girls Amy and Brandy
look at those sweet mugs!!
who brought home the excellence in retail award this year!  They got to put on their glad rags and had a swell time being wined and dined.  Shout out to the Salem Chamber of Commerce  for welcoming Amy so warmly to the fold.  It's been wonderful to watch Amy make new connections, and great fun for both Amy and Brandy to welcome all sorts of new customers through those connections.              

So for now, we'll luxuriate in accolades for a job well done, dream up some wonderful gifts for your Mother (Mother's Day is May 13th, FYI), enjoy spring whenever it decides to show up, and think good thoughts.  For those that are here on the planet, and those that are not.  A blog a month, that's    
my promise for 2018.  I like to keep my promises.  Talk to you in June!  xxx   H.                                              
                               






Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Try, Try Again...

I've been making chocolate professionally for about 25 years.  It's not a big fat brag, it's just what I do.  You'd think I'd have it down by now. That's what I think most of the time.

I've had it in my head to bring back an old favorite, Figaro, to the shop.  It's been in my head for a few months now.  I just could never find the time, it seemed. I realized at the start of the week that in fact, that wasn't true.

I was nervous.

I hadn't made it in years, maybe a decade.  I have shadowy memories of it only being partially successful.  After I had made it a few times, I still didn't feel like I owned the recipe.  It harshed my candyland mellow, and eventually I dropped it from our repertoire.

I'm old enough that I don't like not being an expert at my job.

I've got a birthday coming.  Such stupid thoughts in the face of another ring around the sun, said I!

I got all the ingredients last week, and then I put it off again, until just yesterday.  I'll tell you what: when I flubbed the first batch, I wasn't surprised at all.  Not a whit! Don't get me wrong, it was super tasty.  Just wrong.  In lots of ways.
So pretty. So wrong.

After retreating into my office to do some non-threatening paperwork, I thought about it some more. Double checking my math, my ratios.
The thing about making a mistake in chocolate (especially Figaro), is that it's costly, and I dislike wasting money almost as much as not being an expert. Double whammy, mammy, get on your horse and ride!

And so I did.


Figaro?  You're MINE now.

Second time was a charm, but the best part of the whole process was having a laugh at myself and who I think I am sometimes.  It's got me all jazzed up to make some more mistakes.  We're just heading into a fairly predictable summer season; there's plenty of time and space to work on some new ideas.

Or maybe just make some of the things I love best.


Did I ever tell you how much I love torrone?


Stay tuned.  Who knows what could happen next.

xxx
your flawed, but devoted, chocolatier.


















Friday, March 3, 2017

Shame.  I hang my head in SHAME, people!
I've not had a hot minute to sit down and say hello since....

Oh hell, last year.
it's been 5 months since I wrote last.  Here's some bacon. 

here's some smoky chipotle to cover the blogger's shame halo.

this one's just cute.
So so so much to report, Turtle Faithful!  First, let's go back to LAST YEAR's last post, which talked about our new location in Salem MA.  318 Derby St, people!  It's the prettiest shop we've had in Salem to date. Just lovely. The neighborhood has been so warm and supportive, and Amy, Brandy and Kathleen have been loving the new space.  A complete lemons-to-lemonade story, as far as I'm concerned.  Huzzah!
We had a great holiday season in both shops, then a great Valentine's Day, as well.  One of the reasons Valentine's Day was so fab (despite its being on a Tuesday) was that the Phantom Gourmet filmed an excellent piece on us.  Couldn't have been nicer to work with, and the timing of the release was beyond perfect.  Watch it here: 

In that same week (more great timing, and lovely people to work with), our caramel apples got the spotlight on InsiderFood, here:

SO:  we had a crazy amount of really wonderful publicity, and have gotten to see a ton of new faces as a result, not to mention all of our loyal customers who have made us what we are today. We are lucky dogs!
In chocolate news, we've stretched our truffle wings a little this winter, and added a couple of new flavors:
Sharing is optional, and not necessarily recommended.
One of our turtle worker bees, Natalia, (and her husband) love to travel.  She often brings me back treats.  Last summer she brought me back a most divine pink grapefruit truffle, which haunted me for months.  I had to figure it out, as I didn't expect to be heading that way with the holidays approaching, and I wanted more.  I couldn't be more pleased with the final product (if I do say myself):  a true balancing act of tart, sweet, deep, dark, delicious.  Feeling pretty proud of that baby.
We also made a beautiful milk chocolate wild fruit ganache truffle.  I'm not always a milk chocolate-with-fruit type of gal, but I have to say, it's damn good.

Of course, March is here, so the Stout Truffle is here too.  Grab them while the grabbin's good, people.

See?  I've been a busy bee. Too busy to write until just this moment.  And actually, it was great to get back to the ole keyboard.  It's really something to put it all down and see how much has actually gone on in the past few months!

Next up?  Easter!  Stay tuned for bunny updates!  xxx