Since Valentines Day is officially sanctioned for chocolate indulgence, here’s a traditional seduction item that any one can create to warm the heart (and libido) of their beloved. Just get some really good quality chocolate… Soma’s Dark Fire would be my first choice to heat up the evening. Melt it very slowly in a pot over boiling water (a double boiler) and dip in whatever comes to mind!
This shot was (obviously) fun to create… and I learned some interesting bits about making cinemagraphs along the way. Find out about how to create these fun “motion stills” at
I realized lately that I’ve been getting a lot of requests to shoot food on location for restaurant menus and websites. So I thought I would post a selection of some of the shots and talk a bit about what goes into them. Without all the tools, toys and tricks of the studio I find it’s best to keep the shots very simple and clean and resist the temptation to put too much stuff into them. I also find that restaurants tend to want very straightforward photographs of their menu items so that they can be used for a variety of applications.
I love to find a bit of natural light to work with, and since most restaurants have big windows, this makes my job easier. I also like to work closely with the chef, making sure that each dish is lovingly prepared for the camera. I always remind them not to apply any sauces until the last minute as I’m ready to take the shot.
Finally, it’s always important to work quickly and efficiently, so as not to tie up space and staff in a busy enterprise! Keeping these points in mind, it’s possible to create appealing food shots that really capture the essence of the restaurant’s menu. And the best part is you get to eat the results!
Since we’re still caught in the clutches of a frigid winter, I thought I’d offer up this decidedly decadent, very adult hot chocolate. Definitely the best way to warm up after a frigid walk in the woods. It’s also the perfect nightcap, sipped in front of a roaring fire with your Valentine’s date.
The secret to this indulgence is to forget all restraint. Get some really good cocoa, like Callibaut, or if you’re near the Distillery District in Toronto, try Soma. Then make your hot chocolate with whole milk, or better yet half-and-half. Fill the bottom of your glasses with Kahlua (or your favorite liqueur; Amaretto, Cointreau or Grand Marnier all work well). Then drizzle the hot chocolate slowly into the glass over the back of a spoon, so as not to mix in the liqueur. Top with homemade marshmallows, and brown them a bit to give them that toasted flavor. (a barbecue lighter or plumbers torch works well here)
Making your own marshmallows is really fun and easy. They’re so much tastier and firmer than the plastic bag variety! You can even flavor them with vanilla, almond or mint extract for an extra kick. Here’s the Recipe
Warning: once you’re tasted this delicious concoction, you’ll never want to go back to plain hot chocolate!
I concocted this recipe in a moment of desperation. I was putting together a dinner for a close friend who mentioned at the last minute that his guest for the evening was completely vegan and allergic to wheat and dairy! I’d come up with a delightful menu for the evening, but I was lacking a desert. While shopping I had picked up some berries, but I definitely wanted some chocolate in the desert (after all, what’s dessert without chocolate). Unfortunately everything I could think of that involved chocolate also included dairy or wheat. Looking through my cupboard I noticed some cans of coconut milk and my always-ready supply of dark cocoa. In a mood of pure experimentation I dumped the coconut milk into a big bowl and started mixing in the cocoa. Much to my surprise they blended together easily and started to thicken up into a rich chocolate sauce. I added in just enough sugar to sweeten it and a dash or two of pure vanilla extract.
Wow, incredible chocolaty goodness! Somehow the coconut milk lent a deep rich note to the chocolate, and the sauce had a smooth consistency that just exploded in the mouth. Simply drizzled over the fresh berries, this was a great dessert!
This has got to be the simplest chocolate recipe I’ve ever seen. It takes exactly 5 minutes to open a can of coconut, throw in the cocoa and a bit of sugar, blend it together with a whisk and add a dash of the flavoring of your choice. As I mentioned sometimes I use vanilla, sometimes some lemon or orange zest and a bit of juice, and if I’m feeling particularly decadent, a dash of dark rum. If you’re into a surprising and exotic taste sensation, try adding in some chili or poblano pepper to add some heat to your chocolate. For a detailed recipe, look at the Recipes Page.
Then I discovered that this stuff is versatile. I put the leftover sauce in the fridge and the next day found that it had thickened up into an unbelievable mousse, just waiting for a spoon or even a stray finger! If you happen to have some popsicle molds, pour in this mixture and then freeze it to make the most delectable fudge sickles you’ve ever tasted. If you warm it ever so slightly in the microwave its the perfect chocolate drizzle or dipping sauce for anything you can think to put in it. When I feel like making a particularly pretty presentation I pick up those cute little angel cakes that they sell in the grocery store. I sort of paint the chocolate over the top of the cake, pile on whatever fruits I have on hand and then drizzle on a bit more chocolate, secure in the knowledge that one can never have too much Chocolate Delight!
Further experimentation has led to the finding that the best possible way to consume this stuff is with a bowl of fresh strawberries, naked in bed with a good friend!