Tag Archives: ice cream

Chocolate for change

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.
~ Andy Warhol

I don’t like white chocolate. I have never ordered anything with it in a restaurant, and I have only ever bought it as gifts for others.

I have not previously understood how white chocolate could be described as “delicious” (quelle horreur!).

I didn’t buy this block, though reading this story and seeing that there were raspberries in it made me put my hand up for a sample (thank you, Whittaker’s!)

NZ readers may have heard about it, or seen the by-product on supermarket shelves: thanks to five passionate young students and the help of a favourite confectionery manufacturer, New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation will benefit from chocolate bar sales… :-)

Around 2,600 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in NZ, which doesn’t look like a big number but is astounding if you stop to think that each of these women is someone’s mom / sister / daughter / friend / cousin / neighbour / grandma / aunt. And while there are a million causes out there begging for support, and you can’t help all of them, you can make a few different choices – like what candy you buy – and help out a little bit at a time. Buy this chocolate instead of another white chocolate bar, for instance, and you will help NZBCF with needed advocacy, research and rehab (a part of what I understand NZBCF does).

So… on to my chocolatey moment of truth. I paused for a second after tearing open the foil. I silently broke off a bit of the chocolate, and popped it into my mouth.

And, you know, I wanted to eat a few more bits. I had to shove it back into the pantry whilst I cooked so I wouldn’t give in to temptation and have too little left to cook with later.

I’ll never like it the way I like dark chocolate, but I’ll concede that this white chocolate raspberry bar smells amazing (especially while you’re chopping it up) and tastes very nice indeed all on its own. (Perhaps I’ll even buy a few more…)

I decided to make something with this though, especially after my eye fell on David Lebovitz’s recipe for white chocolate and fresh ginger ice cream. Right now, I am waiting impatiently for the ice cream to set. Every 45 minutes it emerges for a whisk, and every 45 minutes I resist the urge to eat a bowl of half-set ice cream (I tried a teaspoon of the mixture… the flavour is sooo good!).

So, reading about these five students inspired me to think, once again, about the power of one – and the power of people getting together to make a difference.

It’s easy to focus on the painful things in life – I stopped reading / watching the news regularly a few years ago, because so much of it grieved / disgusted / paralysed me. The feeling of exasperation grew after I graduated, and in the first two years after that I got a small glimpse of the staggering scale of the world’s problems. Natural disasters, life-threatening diseases, would it end? Worse, it seemed that for every person working for good in the world, there were a hundred creating all sorts of stupid messes. I questioned my own choices and decisions – it was easy to think about people not pulling their weight, but what was I doing about it? I didn’t like my own answers…

And in more prosperous parts of the world, I saw a less physically challenging but still undeniable side of darkness: soul poverty that no amount of money can even begin to touch.

Yet, I have come to accept that yes, the world’s problems are not easily solved by man (the human race seems to be better at creating messes). But there are other people who are behind a lot of good. So often, positive things have started with one person, one decision, one voice… and as long as there is just one person who will not balk at the tangle that is life and just do one right thing at a time, there is hope.

And, as you probably already know, hope makes so much difference.

On that note, happy Blog Action Day (this year’s theme: “The Power of We”).

P.S. Get your friends together and buy some chocolate, won’t you.

P.P.S. Brandy snaps pictured above were made with this recipe. Not perfected yet, but perhaps that will come with practice ;-)

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A peek into GIAPO’s kitchen

Chefs aren’t made in the kitchen.
Chefs are made from something they have deep inside them –
an inner flame that burns brightly… with purpose, curiosity and passion.
In reality, true chefs pursue the creation of something better than yesterday and when they think they got it, they realise they don’t.
~ Gianpaolo Grazioli

A smiling face opens the door, and we walk through to the area behind the counter. I peek into the cosy kitchen and see that it resembles a laboratory – only it is fitted with stove facilities and edible ingredients. A purple cap finds its way to my head. I take in the sight of 24 cracked eggs caught in a bowl, yolks bobbing in the gloopy pool of whites. I smile at the myriad of utensils, pots, bowls, trays and litres of milk that line the shelves and fridge. I stare out the window at the other humans walking to work (and smile knowing that I will join them soon… BUT not just yet).

Slowly, a sense of unfounded familiarity and tingles of exhilaration wiggle through my toes.

I am in GIAPO’S kitchen.

This morning, Giapo is baking brownies to make brownie gelato. Fresh cream is whipped till it tries escaping from the mixer with violent jerks, and leaves in its wake a beautiful mound of butter. No store-bought chocolate is used (he uses fresh butter, choice cocoa powder and cocoa butter). Giapo gives me a sample of cocoa butter to taste – I am a little put off by its name because it sounds like a lotion, but I am struck by the luxurious quality of it, the way it reminds me of an edible bar of creamy soap – creamy but clean and not sticky in any way (“wow!” is what I want to say). In the course of the morning, he also makes a beautiful batch of dulce de leche and the bit I taste fresh from the pot leaves me feeling a little like I am walking on air.

The way everything whirls, mixes and cooks around me reminds me (just slightly) of one of my favourite Disney moments. I am as intrigued by the beautiful brownie-making process as I am by Giapo’s solid understanding of the science behind food/cooking. (The science of food is not yet my forte. I cook and bake by way of a certain random madness, and without an understanding of why ingredients act the way they do).

So I enjoy myself immensely watching the brownie come together, but I can’t shake off this funny feeling that lingers in my mind the whole time I am in the kitchen… until Giapo tells me he’s going to make a chocolate gelato and combine that with the brownie to make brownie gelato.

This is the moment at which everything feels illogical and marvellous all at once. Questions and answers start flying in and out of my head in rapid succession.

WHAT! WHY! I want to say. How does any of this make sense? Does everyone even really see/understand just how much work goes into this? Couldn’t you take more shortcuts? Couldn’t you use less good (and thus costly) ingredients? Why don’t you let supermarkets/stores etc carry your products? Why do you bake brownie from scratch? Why and how do you invent so many new flavours every single week? Why do you do what you do?

I’ve asked some of these questions before. But even as these questions surface in my mind, everything now makes complete sense in my heart. I already know that yes, GIAPO is a business with overhead costs. Yes, there is nothing to stop them from taking a few time and money-saving shortcuts. Yes, they could easily rely on market knowledge and stick to flavours that have been proven to be popular with the masses (rather than take a chance with experimental flavours). Yes, they could arrange for supermarkets and other stores to stock their gelato.

But the way I see it, GIAPO is not your average business. It’s a people-loving business/”Wonka factory”/thought leader/research lab/innovative centre/delicious gelato parlour and more, rolled into one magic entity. I think it’s less about sticking with the proven, or focusing on profits, or abiding by what some would label as “sense”…

The way I interpret it, it’s about the execution of a mission. Loving food and loving you. Fanning that inner flame. Embarking on a quest to experience life by tasting everything. Combining science, art and passion. Holding strong to values and principles in a society that doesn’t do this as much as they should. Pushing boundaries. Following a dream and vision. Having the courage to go where passion says to go. Making something gobsmackingly delicious, just ‘cos. Revolutionalising gelato, food and eating. Taking pride in their work. Having fun along the way.

And, as they say, giving you food that is as it should be – good for you. With a lot of love, commitment, excellent techniques, quality time and ingredients (no shortcuts or artificial content), and a sparkling dose of genius.

It’s taken me two days to write this post, and still I am not sure I have expressed myself adequately. But thank you for reading my clumsy words. If you’re in Auckland, please visit GIAPO and bring everyone you know. If you are not in New Zealand, well, get here. It’s a thoroughly beautiful country. And go to GIAPO.

Grazie mille Giapo, for the lovely privilege of spending an hour with you in your kitchen!

Giapo – 279-291 Queen Street, Auckland – Phone: 09 550 3677

Ice cream

Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.
~ Erma Bombeck

When your mind is crowded, one of the best things you can prescribe yourself is ice cream. It works like a magic broomstick on a dirty floor. It asks the things-that-don’t-make-sense to please go away for a little while, and come back later with a little more logic written on their caps.

This afternoon, I spread a teaspoon of peanut butter across the bottom of a ramekin. More sweet layers went on in turn: banana slices, a scoop of French Vanilla ice cream, shredded coconut, chocolate-cappuccino sauce (birthday gift from sweet Claire!)… then I sat down and ate it without thinking about anything.

I can feel my whirling brain slowing down now, see the dirt disappearing, hear the things-that-don’t-make-sense shuffling down the corridor en route to painting their logic caps.

Sally and I are dining with my flatties, then going to WOW tonight :-D :-D

    Ingredients:
    1 tsp peanut butter
    1 scoop vanilla ice cream
    1 banana, sliced
    Chocolate sauce
    A small handful of shredded coconut
    Easy-peasy method:
    Smear the peanut butter across the bottom of a small ramekin. Add the other ingredients, in messy layers. Serve, relax and eat immediately.
    Yields one serving.

PS. If you subscribe to my RSS feed, please update the URL to http://treehousekitchen.net so it comes through to your Google Reader/Bloglines etc account sooner!

Caramel Ice Cream

Sugar in the gourd and honey in the horn, I was so happy since the hour I was born.
~ Anonymous

From Tessa Kiros’ “Falling Cloudberries”:
#42 Caramel Ice Cream – Page 383

Caramel isn’t one of my favourite foods to eat, but it always smells like a delicious dream, a new story, a tasty bubble. Like toffee. Childhood. Something just beyond verbal description. Such was the smell of our kitchen last night as the ice cream mixture bubbled gently on the stove, and Matt made hot chocolate on the other stove for us lucky flatmates, and the meringue clouds puffed and sang in the oven…

Somehow, cooking makes me fall deeper in love with the world.

I also think stovetop hot chocolate (along with most real chocolate) puts Cadbury to total shame. :-)

I took the mostly frozen brown icy sherbet mix out of the freezer this morning and gave it a good whisk with our eggbeater before pouring it into an empty ice cream container for further chilling. This is the second ice cream recipe I’ve tried from Tessa Kiros’ book, and I do like her recipes but I can’t figure out why they have this slight sore-throat-inducing effect that comes even after one spoonful… that really puts a dampener on things! Do you make your own ice cream? Suggestions welcome!

Matakana the Marvellous

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each…
~ T. S. Eliot

It is such an unbelievably good feeling, closing your eyes and facing the sun, making the sand your dwelling place for a few hours. Teasing your toes with water. Gazing at a moving portrait of twinkling blue and gold… feeling something strong and beautiful trickle slowly into your soul, like rich hot chocolate into a waiting cup.

I feel so lucky whenever I get to spend a few hours lying on a beach, mind free of worries, heart present only in my immediate surroundings and the warming presence of my friends.

I flew up to Auckland this weekend for some much-needed R & R with family and friends! Saturday saw Tim, Ian, Mandy and me driving up to Warkworth/Matakana, guided only by the bumpy charm of gravel roads and powerful lure of golden sun.

Matakana is the unassuming home of seriously good ice cream. Really really. Blue does these fantastic blends where you can order smooth organic vanilla ice cream or frozen yoghurt and have it blended on site with real toasted almonds and honey (pictured above), or blueberries, banana, strawberries… I tell you, ice cream doesn’t get much better than this…

That’s not all that makes Matakana cool. Check out their public loos…

We were too late for the market, but I’ve been here before and they have some quality produce and friendly faces… will definitely have to visit again!

Before we left, I had fun duck-watching for a few minutes…

Oh, and before I forget… Urban Cafe in Newmarket, Auckland serves perfect poached eggs… what a treat! Ian took me here for a jolly good breakfast and catch-up :-)

While it’s in your cone

My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy the ice cream while it’s on your plate.
~ Thornton Wilder

Summer is the time for wading in water amongst cockle shells and getting lost in tree canopies and car trips with the windows down and skipping across smooth sandy beaches and feeling the lovely sun and chomping on melting donuts and buying plenty of lickalicious ice cream…

I think ice cream is the most dangerous one of all so far… surely 5 ice creams in 2 days is a sin…

*Pictured above: real fruit ice cream with strawberries, blackberries and pineapple blended into vanilla ice cream.

Ice Cream – virgin attempt

Ice cream is happiness condensed.
~ Jessi Lane Adams

#13 Milk, Honey & Cinnamon Ice Cream – Page 380

No time to write now, as I am catching a domestic flight tomorrow morning & I’m tired & haven’t packed… but… I made my first ice cream ever, and it was fun.

Tried a teaspoon of it just then. It’s a little sherberty (I only whisked it twice in the night and have no ice cream maker) and I think I sprinkled in way too much cinnamon in my excitement, but it’s still pretty delicious (how wrong can you go with milk, cream, honey, cinnamon??). :-)

OK, on to packing… good night!