The second day of my visit, some very serious food was on the itinerary. My mother and I were to attempt Banana cream filled cup cakes. After coffee and breakfast we prepared the pudding and as it chilled in the refrigerator, we set out on a reconnaissance mission in the town of Saugerties. The night before I had sampled a few chocolates from my mother’s Lucky Chocolate stash. The flavors were interesting and innovative, many using powerful fruit purees and even Chimayo chilies, famous for their vibrant red color and deep rich flavor. I was excited about visiting the shop, and picking up some interesting chocolates for my roommate.
When we arrived we were greeted by the bitter sweet sent of cocoa, the wonderful sounds of Ranchero music, and a glass counter brimming with colorful chocolates. By the register there were piles of broken shards of chocolate and cookies for sampling, all of which I took advantage of. After carefully surveying all of the flavors I filled one box with chocolates for my roommate, then filled a slightly smaller box with chocolates for myself. In the car I immediately sampled some of the goods. The dark chocolate covered ginger was rich and had a nice kick, the pomegranate exploded with the bright zest of citrus, then finished with the earthy resonance of brown bark and tannins. A nice hearty glass of Malbec or Zinfandel would make a happy companion for this tiny but complex little delicacy. The Salted Caramels in particular caught my attention. I curiously examined the caramel before taking a small nibble. I have always like the combination of salty and sweet, but the grains of salt seemed awfully coarse and thick for such a bite-sized confection. The coarse grains of salt were the first flavor to hit my tongue. The, almost, overwhelming saltiness was soon proceeded by the melting chocolate coating. As the chocolate and salt began to mingle I bit into the caramel kneading it with my teeth into the chocolate. I did not immediately take another bite, but sat for a while reviewing the experience. “I felt the same way,” my mother told me. “After eating the salted caramel for the first time I couldn’t have told you if I liked it or I hated it. I’ll tell you one thing, I haven’t stopped coming back for more.” I took another bite, a heartier one this time. I think I can say with confidence that, I like it!
When we got home, we made the banana cupcakes, filled them with the custard, and finished them off with vanilla Butter Cream Frosting. I wiped down the counters as my mother washed the dishes and as she dried the last bowl, she turned to me and said, “ So we really need to start thinking about food.” What she meant was dinner. It was already 4:30pm, dessert had been taken care of, what we had neglected to think about was what we were going to cook for dinner.