Hyper Local Brew Fest

Hyper Local Brew Fest If you have been reading my blog for any length of time you know that every summer and fall I drop down the Boston Local Food Festival rabbit hole.  You can barely pin me down for an evening and BF thinks I’m merely a ghost for about a month leading up to BLFF.  So naturally, when the organizers contacted me about a summer event to promote the festival and find more awesome brewers I was thrilled and immediately said yes.

So, in June the Boston Local Food Festival team with Sustainable Business Networks of Boston is presenting the Hyper Local Brew Fest!  This will be an evening of fun I assure you!  Our line up is looking more and more robust every day and as we speak we already have wineries, meaderies, and breweries signed up and excited to show us their wares.

So when is this fabulous event?, you ask.  It’s June 16th at the Somerville Armory where it will be set up in a very similar fashion to our Brew Fest last year.  There will be two sessions of tastings with tickets priced at $30 each. There will be music, there will be delicious nomables, just like at the festival $5/serving.  In general it’s going to be a magical experience.  You should come.  You can get tickets here. And, if you use the code HYPERLOCAL today only (March 16, 2012) you get 10% off your ticket!

A Visit with Vianne Chocolates

I love chocolate of all sorts. I will eat chocolate anytime, its familiar and comforting in a nostalgic way.  I love that first bite into a handmade chocolate that makes my mouth want to do a jig, or the soothing way chocolate melts at body temperature.  I am convinced that chocolate would solve most problems and that nothing else calms most ills.  I have been lucky enough to test this theory time and again in all situations and at all times. I love it.

I periodically get the opportunity to eat chocolate like this, decadent dark chocolate with additions that make me swoon and one weekend day I had an opportunity like that.  On the afternoon of July 30th I was given the fantastic opportunity to sit down with the totally charming Valerie, owner and chief candy-maker-extrordinaire of Vianne Chocolates.  Vianne Chocolates is one of the specialty vendors at last year’s Boston Local Food Festival and then I only briefly met her as I showed her to her booth.  As I sat down to interview Valerie she gave me a marvelous linen bag full of goodies!

I immediately fell in love with the sketch on the bag and all of the packaging.  Made by a South End artist these little sketches are a fun and creative way for Valerie to show her local love, and does she have local love.  This girl hails from the wilds of New York and tries as hard as possible to incorporate local produce, jams, herbs, whatever into her chocolates.  From using Kate’s of Maine butter (yay, totally rocking the Maine pride) to using mint she grew herself (!) and sourcing her more obscure spices from Christina’s Spices in Inman Square, Valerie is all about keeping as much as possible local and sustainable!

I also love when companies and businesses choose pet charities that they are passionate about, this is especially true with Vianne and the Pug Bars.  These pug bars, aside from being insanely cute, are for a GREAT cause.  Of every bar that is sold Valerie donates 25 cents to the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, how great is that?  So not only does Vianne source as much as possible locally, they support a local charity too!  And if saving animals doesn’t lessen the guilt of eating this fantastic chocolate than nothing will.  😉

Now, then onto the best part.  Let’s talk about the chocolate.  As I sit here eating the beautiful pieces of candy that were to lovingly stashed in my snazzy bag I am abuzz with excitement.  My first chocolate is the Strawberry Balsamic (one of Valerie’s favorites), with it’s creamy white chocolate center, rich dark chocolate coating and generous sprinkle of strawberry dust I am in heaven, glowing with the thrill of perfect chocolate that only enhances the flavor of strawberries with each savored bite.  Chocolate number two is the Green Fairy, an entirely different chocolate than the strawberry balsamic but still totally swoon worthy and, by far, my favorite.   The green fairy is, as the history of it’s name would suggest, an Absinthe spiked truffle that is one of those tongue-dancing-a-jig sort of chocolates.  The crisp chocolate shell followed by the spicy and herbal ganache is a totally mesmerizing experience.  I could sit here and give you a play by play of all the chocolates that were bestowed on me but instead I will encourage you to come to the Boston Local Food Festival on October 1st and try them yourself.  And if you see me around grab me a green fairy 🙂

I wrote this post for the Boston Local Food Festival blog back in the fall, however if you are struggling for a some good Christmas gifts Vianne Chocolates will definitely fit the bill of that person with a sweet tooth.

*All photos in this post are courtesy of www.viannechocolat.com.

Tasty Tuesday Peanut Butter Cream Pie

Last month Jennie lost her husband suddenly to a cruel stroke of fate. She is a food blogger who tells stories beautifully and seems always able to capture a feeling in a single photo.  Our entire community stood up for her – sending virtual hugs through twitter and leaving comments on her blog that were heartbreaking.  A week later Jennie asked that the food blogger community make this pie in honor of her late husband.  It was his favorite and as such meant a lot to her that we would take the time.  We all made a pie.  Some were donated, some were brought to family functions, and some were eaten quietly in a thoughtful moment.  This pie was eaten quietly as I sat with BF and tried to remember to be grateful for the small things that I am given everyday.
The food blogger community is wonderful, with it’s constant support and care.  We all feel for Jennie’s pain even if we don’t understand it.  There were hundreds of pies made in her honor.  Virtual hugs and support were lifelines that we sent her way, lifelines sent to someone we barely knew and who had changed lives in the time she has blogged passionately and sincerely.  I was amazed at the pies that were made and blogged and even more amazed when last week Bloggers Without Borders was launched with its first fundraising effort   going towards Jennie and her family in this trying time as she battles daily to figure out her life without her partner.
Donate to Bloggers Without Borders

Baking for Bloggers Bake for Hope

Do you ever look at the delectable treats I blog and wish you could have them?  Now you can!  Well, you can have my Brown Sugar Sugar Cookies anyway.  With bidding from May 4-6 Boston/Mass based bloggers Cara and Jen have organized Bloggers Bake for Hope

Doesn’t that look like something you would love to have?  There are A LOT of local bloggers baking for this shindig too, so if caramel-ly delicious brown sugar sugar cookies don’t appeal to you maybe Amanda’s Cream Cheese Coffee Cake, Renee’s Cape Cod Cranberry tart, or some Sea Salt Nutella Fudge from Katie will.  I’ve got my eye on some Crusty Rosemary Sea Salt bread.  It’s all going to be fantastic and it’s all for a GREAT cause.  So go, bid and get someone you love something delicious (yourself included, since you love you too, right?).  I’m looking forward to giving away some of these cookies and hope that you’ll come bid on them when the bidding starts!