If you didn’t get your fill of chocolate on Valentine’s Day already, head to your nearest Salt & Straw to really indulge.
The artisan ice cream maker out of Portland, OR launched this month its “Chocolate Series,” five chocolate-centric flavors made in collaboration with local chocolatiers located in the five markets that it has scoop shops.
Lucky me had a chance to try samples of all five limited-edition flavors now available at all Salt & Straw shops by the scoop or hand-packed pint ($12.95). If you don’t have a shop near you, not to worry; you can have all five flavors delivered to your door at a special discounted price of $68.
The five flavors are: Fran’s Almond Gold Bar, Cloudforest Chocolate Ishpingo & Mango, Dandelion Cocoa Nibs & Frangipane; Compartes Coffee & Love Nuts; and Exquisito Guanabana Stracciatella.
After a seemingly interminable odyssey, the wait is indeed over.
Cyrus, the acclaimed fine-dining restaurant that closed in Healdsburg in 2012 after a landlord dispute, finally reopened again last September in a striking new iteration in Geyserville.
Chef-Owner Doug Keane, co-owner Nick Peyton, and their team couldn’t be more relieved and thrilled to be back at it again. Neither can their legions of fans, so many of whom considered the original Cyrus their favorite restaurant.
The original Cyrus garnered two Michelin stars. The new one already scored one star — barely two months after opening.
Keane spent a decade searching high and low through the Alexander Valley, which was founded by the restaurant’s namesake Cyrus Alexander. He had all but given up when this site came available. Though this sleek contemporary glass, steel and concrete building is the polar opposite of the restaurant’s original Old World provincial aesthetic, it’s hard to imagine a more fitting place in this new age and time. At least, that’s what I found when I finally had the opportunity last week to dine here.
It’s a good bet that Guillermo Soto Torres is one of the few — if not only — pastry chefs in the Bay Area with a degree in telematics, the interdisciplinary field that combines telecommunications, vehicular technologies, electrical engineering, and computer science.
He had hardly stepped foot into that scientific career, though, when he made a major pivot to use his knack for precision in a whole different way. He started working in a chocolate shop in his native Mexico, then began studying baking books. It wasn’t long before he jumped full bore into pastry making about 15 years ago.
That led to stints at Four Seasons hotels in Costa Rica and Florida, before coming two years ago to the Four Seasons Silicon Valley in East Palo Alto to become head pastry chef.
Earlier this week, the 36-year-old chef invited me and two other media colleagues into his hotel kitchen to watch and learn as he made what will be the stunning centerpiece dessert for Christmas Eve dinner and the Christmas Day buffet — the buche de Noel.
His version of the classic French yule log cake is comprised of a flourless chocolate cake on a base of crispy hazelnut feuilletine (crunchy crepe shards) that’s rolled around chestnut cream and an anise-flavored orange compote before it’s all enrobed in shiny white chocolate glaze and holiday garnishes. To serve all the expected guests on those two days, he will make 100 of them.
He talked about his favorite ingredient to work with, the one that’s he’s allergic to, the one dessert he could eat every single day, and the rather ill-fated day that he began working at the Silicon Valley hotel.