Thursday, June 20, 2019

Sit a spell, Summer. We missed you.

It's another grey day on the North Shore, but it's not cold.  Not raw.  We are over the hump!  Kids are graduated, those who haven't yet have had their last day of school; folks from away are starting to trickle into town.
I love this time of year.
I love the traffic, the sea, the sun, seeing people from all over the world.

June has been a pretty great at Turtle Alley, we've got lots of folks loving our new curry caramels, a  taste explosion that is very near and dear to my heart:
For a sweet petite choco, this curry caramel packs a wallop
June was mixed for me personally.  We (all of Gloucester, really) lost a great friend and the brilliant mind of Jim Dowd.  I had a significant birthday that was not my favorite.  And then THIS HAPPENED:

Conrad and David of Los Lobos IN MY SHOP

One of my favorite things about my job is that I get to listen to music all day.  I've spent many years listening to Los Lobos.  Thousands of pounds of chocolates have been made listening to these guys.  I've seen them many many times.  To have them show up in my shop was a highlight in Turtle Alley history.  I always wanted to be the rock and roll chocolatier, and now, at my advanced age, it could happen!  They were completely lovely and gracious.  I like to think the show that night was particularly fantastic because they were fueled by Turtle Alley sweets.  A girl can dream, can't she?

I'm planning on a wall of fame in the shop.  Let's put our minds together and see how we can get more rock stars at Turtle Alley, or at least eating Turtle Alley.  I'm looking at you, Ry Cooder!  Bob Dylan! The National! Andrew Bird! Valerie June! J.S. Ondara! Nick Lowe!  Elvis Costello!  Phish! Lizzo! Beck! Taj Mahal! 

I think I'll just go into this new birth year dreaming this dream.  When I'm not dreaming of chocolate, of course.

Last but not least in the world of Turtle Alley, Denny the tomato guy brought me new tomats to grow this year, and they are shaping up to be a bumper crop!
May 25th                                  June 20th

Come by and check their progress in the Gloucester shop.  We'd love to see you!

xxx H

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Happy Spring!

Hello, Turtle Faithful!

If April showers bring May flowers, I'm thinking May is going to be a BLOOMFEST!
We're over the hump:  there's light in the sky in the afternoon, buds are showing themselves, things are trying heartily to get green.
I'm not the only one who's feeling good about it, our customers are, too.  We're seeing a lot of folks right about now for the Easter holiday, also selling lots of sweets for Passover.  Whatever you are celebrating, it's SPRING!

yup, that basket is made of chocolate.
By hand!
all these bunnies are solid.  No messing about.

Spring is also a fertile time for me in candyland.  Lots of inspiration.  I'm really quite happy with our latest, our Curry Caramel.  Topped with a flake or two of Maldon salt, the balance of curry, cream and milk chocolate is just heavenly.  I expected the dark wouldn't work, and I was spot on.  Not enough fat in the dark chocolate to make that curry really taste creamy and full bodied; interestingly, though, in the dark chocolate, the curry went completely floral.  I did not see that coming.  Learning new stuff is boss!

A bar I've been playing with for a year or so finally had it's debut as well:  the Bjorkbar.  Milk or dark chocolate, chopped black licorice, and licorice salt.  This is another one that I really enjoy best in milk chocolate. I tend to lean to dark chocolate, so as much as I like the dark chocolate version, the milk chocolate just gets the balance right. No other way to describe it.  When I am lucky enough to  achieve that perfect balance, I'm grinning for days (or maybe I'm grinning because I'm taste testing every other minute.  Sugar is a powerful drug).  

Keep your eyes peeled for more new delicious bits and bobs.  After Easter, though!


Saturday, February 9, 2019

Glad to meet ya, 2019!

Hoodoggers, my Turtle Peeps, I find myself once again overdue!
Happy New Year.  Happy Valentine's Day!
I guess I just sort of slid through November-January without a blink.  Things do get a bit hectic....
Christmas Eve, 1 minute after we opened the doors.  It was like a rock concert!

It was an amazing Fall, busy and fun, tasty treats flying out of our Gloucester and Salem shops.  We just have the best people in both shops behind the counter right now; I'm thankful daily.
In most recent chocolate holiday news,  Valentine's Day is fast approaching.  Amy and Brandy from our shop on Derby Street in Salem  just had a fabulous time at Salem So Sweet, an annual event that has grown so very much since we first did it 15 years ago, really great to see it has become such an event!
Here in the salt mines in Gloucester, we're making things as sweet and foofy as possible, which for all my cranky exterior, I love love LOVE.
I'll pretty much put hearts on anything.  Oreos, for instance.

In the world of not-about-Valentine's Day, I'm excited that we have a couple of new turtles in dark chocolate.  I really really like pistachios, always have.  It's been hard to find a really great pistachio out there that is affordable, fresh and delicious, but at long last, we have.  Say hey to our dark chocolate Pistachio  Turtle, as well as our dark chocolate Cherry Pistachio Turtle.  We just couldn't decide which one was better, so we made both.  They are both selling equally as well, so there it is.  So far only one person has asked about milk chocolate.  What say you, Blog folk?  Yes or No?

I anxiously await some feedback on this.  We are running out of space in our cases, making it necessary to use the limited space we have wisely.
For now, though, I'll be making Valentines.  Lots of them.  All sorts of shapes and colors.  Come see us!  If you come on Valentine's Day proper, I can guarantee you it will NOT be just men, and that we will be open an extra hour that night.  See you in the Alley!

PS:  don't forget to click on highlighted words.  There are fun links lurking behind them!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween!

Hi Folks!

Just squeaking a post in by the end of the month.  Monthly, said I, so here we go!
Today is not just Halloween, but it is also the day we who love the Red Sox celebrate their amazing tromp of the Dodgers.  In LA, no less!  For myself, there just couldn't be sweeter news during an otherwise dismal news cycle.  Today a customer was in who said she'd just gotten off the train, with people going into Boston for the parade, and others going into Salem for Witch City's holiest of days.  "Actually", she said, "it was beautiful".Someone even called us by mistake (we share a number similar with the local hospital) today, and the lady on the other end told me she was watching the parade on the tv and got distracted, and boy, didn't that make a lot of people happy....
Thanks, fellas, we needed that.
In candyland, we have had yet another crazy October.  Our Salem shop has been hopping since the 1st.  What a great city in October!  We participated in the Bizarre Bazaar this year.  The weather was perfect, and the crowds were beyond enthusiastic.  Literally, people buying caramel apples out of the box as they were being delivered to the table!
Hot Stuff.
We've been having a pretty good time keeping people in their sweets and spooky treats for the month, and now are getting ready for the lull that occurs at the start of each November, while folks finish off their left over Halloween candy.  No that there is a lack of things to do; we all know what month comes after November....
With that in mind, turtle doves, I'll sign off.  Caramellos will not wait.  Until next time:  Vote on November 6th, Kiss your family, Stay sweet.

PS: 47 harvested to date.  More on the way!

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


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.