Tag Archives: dark chocolate

gelato bravado

Chocolat Cremerie, situated in San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood, was the prime place for me to sample my first West Coast gelato. I had been asking around for recommendations of San Diego’s best, and Chocolat came with the most emphatic recommendation. A Sicilian waiter told me that it was the best gelato he had ever had in his life, including the twenty years he spent in Italy. Translation: I needed to have it.

After trying Lemon Poppy Seed, Cinnamon Chocolate, and Sweet Basil, I settled on Grand Marnier Chocolate combined with Cioccolato di Peperoncino, or chili chocolate. Orange and chili are two of my favorite chocolate accompaniments, and since I have been in San Diego, I realized the merits of pairing chili powder with fruit, so this combination was perfect for me.

This gelato was the creamiest, densest I have ever had. It was the consistency of cold batter for really chewy brownies, necessary to hold up the rich chocolate flavor and its complements. It was so filling and fulfilling that I could barely finish it, especially since I had just eaten dinner at La Pizzeria Arrivederci. The pizzeria had high marks on the UrbanSpoon iPhone app, and boy, did it deliver! My aunt, cousin, mom and I split a small Pizza Margarita, the standard marinara-mozzarella-basil trifecta of perfection, and a small La Bianca, a white pizza baked only with mozzarella and parmesean, then topped with cold prosciutto and arugula. The crust was superb — light, with appropriate amounts of crunch and give — and the toppings were fresh. I couldn’t ask for much more.

There are times when I am proud to be Italian. Most of those times come from experiencing really good Italian food. That night, with three members of my family in San Diego, our bellies full of Italian wine, fantastic and authentic oven-charred pizza, and unreal gelato, I was the most proud I’ve been in a long time that my last name is Cherichello.

chocolate & spinach

I have begun featuring salt and heat into my desserts, so I figure that I will try to rise to the challenge of creating two completely different dishes with almost identical ingredients. This idea arose when making my mom’s signature chocolate bark to bring up to LA with me. I had chopped more orange zest and almonds than were necessary for the amount of chocolate I had, and I had an entire peeled orange that needed to either be eaten or used in some capacity. It was also dinnertime.

Sweet: Dark Chocolate with Orange Zest, Almonds, Salt, and Chili Powder

6-8 oz. good quality dark chocolate
2 tbsp. orange zest en chiffonade
1/4 c. almonds, chopped
1 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. sea salt

Melt chocolate over a double boiler. Add half of the ingredients to the melted chocolate. Pour chocolate into a lined pan. (I used a loaf pan lined in tin foil but my mom uses a cookie sheet lined in wax paper. To each, his own.) Sprinkle the remaining ingredients on top of the chocolate. Refrigerate for several hours, or until completely hardened. I was able to break mine up into pieces about four hours after putting it in the refrigerator, but my mom typically leaves it in overnight.

Savory: Sautéed Spinach with Orange Juice, Orange Zest, and Chopped Almonds

2 large handfuls of baby spinach
1/2 orange, juiced
1 tbsp. orange zest en chiffonade
1/8 c. almonds, chopped
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. oil

Heat frying pan to medium heat with the oil. Add the spinach, orange juice, salt, and chili powder. Sauté until the spinach is significantly wilted, then add the almonds and orange zest. Continue to cook until most of the liquid (from the orange juice and the spinach) has boiled off.