Restaurant Review: Deuxave!

There is just SO much I love about being in this industry, but I think what I love the most is the community. I’ve been finding that the world in general is a small place, but the culinary/food service world is even smaller.

When I started working at the Taj, we all I know I experienced the “its a small world” feeling with my awkward tinder moment (you can catch up by clicking here!)… But I also have connections with each of my co-workers! One of them used to work with my old Flour co-worker and the rest went to Johnson & Wales where our worlds somehow crossed from time to time.

I ended up going to Deuxave with two of my Taj co-workers to try the dessert menu by pastry chef Jamie Davis Schick (check out her instagram here!) before she moved on to the next step in her career. My friend April used to work for Jamie at No. 9 Park so we were treated as extra special guests at an extra fancy restaurant!

692Deuxave is located at 371 Commonwealth Avenue in the Back Bay area. It’s easily accessible by the T; its just a few minutes walk from the Hynes Convention Center on the green line. They also do valet parking for a pricy $18 or if you’re the luckiest person on the planet, you might find a free metered spot along Massachusetts Avenue. Deuxave is open for dinner 5 to 10pm on the weekdays and until 11pm on Friday and Saturday.

This restaurant is beautiful and definitely high end. Save your pretty pennies and dress up for a fancy night out! April and I waited at the bar for our friend Sarah and chatted with Jamie for a few minutes! I was definitely excited to try her menu and it was also really great to get to know her a little bit.

700After being seated, we were sent 3 glasses of champagne! We took a couple silly pictures, toasted and then reminded ourselves that we needed to behave in such a nice place. We perused the menu and picked one dessert for each of us to order with the intention to share.

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Also unexpectedly, we were sent an intermezzo. I’ts basically a pre-course to set the precedence for the rest of the meal. We were sent a fennel celery sorbet with compressed yuzu and tarragon. It was a really interesting mix of sweet and savory. The sorbet reminded me of chicken noodle soup- almost a little buttery!

696Our individual courses came out and they were absolutely beautiful. They were well executed with specific attention to detail. I’ll go through our courses one by one:

Local Peaches and Corn

691Corn panna cotta, hazelnut polenta financier, bourbon compressed peaches, peach sorbet and candied hazelnuts

Summer Berry “Trellis”

689White Chocolate Cheesecake, Summer Berries, Pistachio Pain de Genes, Blueberry Sorbet, Caramelized Puff Pastry, Pistachio Puree, Aged Balsalmic Glaze

Milk Chocolate Silk Ribbon

690Red Velvet Cake, Fresh Raspberries, Raspberry Sorbet, Cocoa Nibs, Malted Meringue

And again, we were sent EVEN MORE stuff! Jamie sent us the creme brulee with meyer lemon sorbet. The creme brulee was so creamy and rich and the sorbet was a nice change of pace from the fatty creme brulee. The sorbet wasn’t super tart because meyer lemons are small and sweet. YUMMM.

Jamie also sent us a new dessert in the testing phase!  It was yogurt panna cotta with a green apple gelee, chartreuse and apple sorbet, olive oil cake and green apple glass. The yogurt panna cotta was super super tart but I’m also not the biggest fan of yogurt. My friends were gobbling it up though! I really enjoyed the olive oil cake and green apple/chartreuse sorbet.

702Fat and happy, we were ready for our bill. We were sent little mignardise on the way out which are small bites (almost like mints that go with a bill). We each got a vanilla caramel, coconut macaroon and coffee bonbon. I WAS SO FULL AND HAPPY.

695They only charged us for the three plated desserts and our water (first time I’ve had that happen…) so our bill only came to $55 with tax. We each paid $25, leaving a healthy tip for our waiter and waitstaff who took such good care of us. I had an excellent time at Deuxave and was so happy to be able to experience someone else’s menu!

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On Tuesday, I divulge how to deal with crazy landlords and still walk away with a win! As stressful as adulting can be, it certainly isn’t boring. Have a great weekend eveyrone!

M

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Bitte Chocolate!

As most of these stories go, I met Mike Hoffman in college through friends of friends. Mike ended up graduating a couple years before me and moved to South Carolina to pursue his dreams. After working for a few years, he turned one of his hobbies of making his own chocolate into a budding business, Bitte Chocolate!

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I’m always looking for things to fulfill my life; finding my passions and making them prevalent in my day to day life. I think it’s really brave that Mike has taken this leap of faith to follow his passion. Check out the interview with him below!

Tell me about Bitte Chocolate! Where did the name come from?

Bitte Chocolate started my senior year of college. My friend Sarah and I started messing around with making chocolate. Well… it was more like she was watching while I made it but nevertheless she was there. I I started out by using different kind of beans and  a small food chopper to chop up beans and sugar. I had a hard time with texture/grittiness because I was using a mortar and pestal. Professionally, this process (called conching) takes about two days. My chocolate was very gritty, almost like Modica Chocolate  where they do not conch and the sugar is still big and gritty. 

After graduation I moved down to Charleston, SC and didn’t  make much chocolate at the time. I worked for a French Chocolatier for 6 months but became bored doing the same things over and over again. In the beginning of 2014, I bought equipment to really make chocolate. At first, I  was just playing around when my boss encouraged me to turn it into a business. I was skeptical; I didn’t want to ruin my love for making chocolate by turning it into a business and having to do it all the time. So I took it slow and never let it overwhelm me. It has slowly formed into what you see today after a year of formula testing and packaging design.


The name was the hardest part of the entire process. I wanted something  strong, classy, and not cheesy. I came up with a hundred different names but couldn’t decide on one. I always pictured something  that was short, sweet and too the point but could never quite put my finger on it.  I would dream about it, wake up and write the word but nothing seemed to fit. After about 3 months of brainstorming, I was bouncing ideas off of my roommate and she recommended something like bittersweet. It was too cute and nice; it wasn’t me. Then a light bulb went off! Bitte (bit-tah) is the German word for ‘you’re welcome’ or ‘please’. After researching, testing the word on friends and chatting with a german exchange student from high school, I settled on the official name Bitte Chocolate.I find that the word Bitte is a perfect fit for my chocolate as I produce chocolate with strong flavors uninhibited by vanilla or other flavorings. 

What inspired you to start your own company? How have you broken into the market?

Ever since taking a chocolate class in college, I fell in love and  knew I wanted to be a chocolatier. I feel like most great pastry chefs are great at chocolates. Chocolatiers are always seem very confident. I think I started this company because I saw a void in the market here. Charleston has such a great food scene- it’s impossible to come across a bad meal.  I figured that if there was any time to do it, it was now! It was perfect- I love to make it and market needs it. I have had a very soft opening for the most part, and I am just starting to sell to local businesses.

Explain the chocolate making process. How long does the entire process take?

Once I receive the beans, I roast them. I make sure to test the beans by eating a couple to double check they are up to my standard. I then winnow/ grind them. Winnowing is the process of separating the bean from the skin.  After grinding them, I add cocoa butter, sugar and sometimes milk depending on the kind of chocolate I am making. After, I put the mixture in a melanger which are stone rollers that crush the sugar small enough so it creates a smooth mouth-feel. This part of the process takes about two days. Once the chocolate is ready, I temper** and mold them. I let them sit, wrapped in foil for about 3 weeks to mellow out a hard acidic flavor from the beans. Once they age, I package and sell them! So the entire process takes a little over three weeks.

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(**Side note: tempering is the process of creating a balance in the chocolate so it hardens quickly, can resist slight changes in temperature and moisture, and keeps fat from rising to the surface on chocolate)

Where do you source your ingredients? Any particular reason you pick that location to source from?

I get my beans from Peru. I’ve tried dozens of different beans but prefer the ones from Peru called Criollo beans. Criollo beans make up 1% of  cocoa beans in the world, but have the best flavor! I also get beans called Tumbes.They have a malty fruity flavor that really helps bring out the chocolate flavor!

How did you get started in the industry? What keeps you passionate?

I don’t know exactly how I got into the industry but I think I can speculate. As long as I can remember, I wanted to be a chef besides the usual pipe dream of astronaut or baseball player. Being a chef was the first real job I wanted to do. I hear from my friends that they got into the industry because they loved making things with the mom/grandmother or something cheesy like that but I just had the love of food in me.. In high school, I had figured out that I liked baking more than cooking which eventually lead me to pick the four year pastry program at Johnson & Wales University.

What keeps me passionate? What doesn’t keep me passionate is the real question. I love everything I do. Everything about chocolate is amazing. I love that I can be artistic as well as scientific. It’s hard to put into words the way I feel about my craft. I commit so many hours to my job and it can really wear on you but it’s still amazing to be able to produce these lovely works of art.I was sitting at a chef’s table, watching the wonderful ballet that is a kitchen and my heirloom tomato came out. Before I took a spoon and destroyed it, I stopped and took a step back and admired it’s beauty. I took a bite and savored every moment of that delicious tomato. I thought about everything that it had been from the farm to mouth. I feel like people need to see that food isn’t just a way to survive.

What’re your future goals for Bitte Chocolate or otherwise?

My future goals are just to grow. Right now, I am just doing it in the back of the bakery but would like to open up my own place when the right time comes. I have a couple of ideas brewing at the moment. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself or give away any of my secrets!

I have noticed in my time making chocolates, that some people are afraid to admit milk chocolate is there favorite. Milk chocolate shouldn’t just be related to Hershey products or other products loaded with sugar and vanilla. I’m confident I have a milk chocolate bar that people won’t be afraid to say they like! My milk chocolate uses high volume cocoa liquor and milk to give it a high end taste and a less sugary taste.

If you are in Charleston,  you will start to notice Bitte Chocolate popping up in local shops! We hope to start shipping this fall. You can go to our website at bittechocolate.com or follow us on instagram bittechocolate or on Facebook!

632I hope you guys enjoyed another inside view into the industry! I wish Mike the best of luck and I can’t wait to order chocolate bars from him! Check back on Tuesday for a new post!

Staging- A Working Interview

Hi Friends!

So as I’ve explained in a past post, staging is an integral part to working/finding jobs in the food service industry. There’s no escaping needing to do a stage when looking for a hands-on job. Stages are used to help determine if you’re a good fit for the company and to see if they’re a good fit for you! Unfortunately, it is all time unpaid (usually many many hours) however, they can prove to be really incredible learning experiences! As I mentioned in my post on Tuesday, I recently was having an existential crisis on where I wanted my career to go next. Did I want to look for work in restaurants and learn plating? Did I want to move more towards food management? Was my learning experience really over in the bakery or did I have more to learn?

The only way I knew to help clarify/answer any of these questions was to start applying for jobs and then spending time staging. I’ve done stages at places that are SO dirty and gross so not only do I NOT want to work there, but I also never want to eat there! Ick! At this point however, I have staged a few different places that I think are worth sharing!

My first stage was at Ribelle, a restaurant I previously reviewed and loved! I could tell that the food quality was very important to the business and all of the staff was so nice that I wanted to spend some time there and see what a typical day was.

A stage can sometimes precede an interview because when you work with someone for 5 or 6 hours, you tend to get a pretty good feeling about the type of person and worker they might be. Upon showing up, I was able to meet the staff and chat a bit about the type of work they do. Finally, I was able to get my hands dirty and help them out! I ended up shaping bagels and bread, scooping cookie dough, prepping thyme milk that would be used as a foam, supreme-ing oranges and grapefruit (this is something that can show your knife skills and attention to detail), and then assisting another pastry cook in prepping other components that they would need for that nights plating. I stayed through the beginning of service and watched them in action as the night began. The pastry cook as helped make the pizzas for order so that was pretty fun to watch! But the best part of the night was plating up different desserts for me to try! It was cool to be able to do a myriad of projects but I was surprised at how laid back the atmosphere was. My current job is so busy all of the time and I constantly multi-task which is what makes my shift fly by. While this was a really fun restaurant, I want to make sure that there’s never a moment where I’m bored or slow. I’m a worker bee and need to be kept busy all the time!

Another more recent stage was held at a place called Commonwealth Cambridge. This place was pretty cool because they weren’t only a restaurant but also a market where people can come and grab anything like sandwiches, coffee, ice cream, local meats and cheese, pretty much any kind of snacks on the run! The restaurant at night basically has a glorified ice cream bar as their dessert menu where you can mix and match different hot and cold components. I wanted to explore here to gain more experience in making ice creams but also the use my creativity to come up with new grab and go items. I went to a stage there for 3 hours where I helped decorate sugar cookies for a catering order. While I liked the staff there and the whole feel of the restaurant/market, it seemed more of a lateral move in career. And at this point, I want something to really challenge me and make me work for it!

The last stage I went to was for a restaurant called Harvest in Harvard Square. This restaurant is full of history- plenty of world renowned chefs spent some of their career there and it has a reputation that can’t be beat! Their current pastry chef, Brian Mercury, has recently been named one of the best pastry chefs in Boston so I couldn’t wait for the chance to spend some time learning from him for the night.

As soon as I arrived, I was put to work making a chocolate cremeux. I also had the opportunity to help mix and shape their house bread, prep some of their items for plating but best of all, actually plate up some desserts for order. There’s such an art to plating and it really is focused on making things beautiful as well as delicious. Here are a couple plates below!

Taza chocolate cremeux with salted caramel center and cookie base, housemade granola, homemade sea salt, malted chocolate sauce and marscapone mousse

Taza chocolate cremeux with salted caramel center and cookie base, housemade granola, homemade sea salt, malted chocolate sauce and marscapone mousse

Citrus Cheesecake with poppyseed biscotti, hibiscus marshmallows, grapefruit gel and meringue shard

Citrus Cheesecake with poppyseed biscotti, hibiscus marshmallows, grapefruit gel and meringue shard

Cheese plate with crostinis, bar nuts, honeycomb, vanilla mango jelly

Cheese plate with crostinis, bar nuts, honeycomb, vanilla mango jelly

Apple and Manchego pie- golden raisin puree, pink peppercorn soaked apple slices, manchego crisps

Apple and Manchego pie- golden raisin puree, pink peppercorn soaked apple slices, manchego crisps

Harvest was such a great place to learn! I’ve decided to continue learning at Flour as my position is changing soon and I’ll be able to learn many of the other stations. But in my free time this summer, I want to practice my own plating and be really creative with things that I find at the market! Maybe I’ll even stage at places for fun just to add to my learning process. I’ll always be a student to this industry!

Thanks for sticking through this lengthy post, but I just get so nerdy and fan-girly about the food industry! Check back on Tuesday for a post about my top favorite bars in Boston! Have a great weekend!