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Prestigious Silver Star Wine Festival about to uncork for second year

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Wine Fest group dining

Wine Fest group dining

Image Credit: Lianne Viau



Elevated menus, wine tastings, entertainment and markets are on the menu for the four-day Silver Star Wine Festival, and it’s less than two weeks away.


It is the second year the festival is bringing the fun to the alpine village where guests can enjoy biking, hiking and sightseeing in the Monashee Mountains, according to a media release by Destination Silver Star.


The signature event is the Walk-About Tasting where chefs pair foods with the finest wines from 30 BC wineries.


Professional chef Bernard Casavant is a Restaurant Hall of Fame inductee in the province and the culinary director at Lakehouse Kitchens Cooking School.


“Our guests will be able to indulge in tasting bites of the finest fresh and locally sourced products from our region, including a sweet treat to take away.” Casavant said in the release. “From a seared wild salmon satay with soba noodle salad bowl to a chickpea-crusted, fried adzuki bean tempeh taco, we will have mouthwatering pairings for every palate.”


The festival also features a selection of signature pairing dinners and brunches hosted by Silver Star’s most renowned establishments. 


On Friday evening, August 11, SilverStar Mountain Resort is offering an “exquisitely crafted five-course menu rooted in flavours of Italy” orchestrated by executive chef Scott Sanderson. The menu features fresh BC seafood and wine from five Okanagan wineries.

At the same time Black Pine Social is offering a rustic European experience curated by chef Jarred Sauve and owner Brandon Loughery.


The menu draws “inspiration from rustic European alpine culture, with a sprinkle of influence of Japanese cuisine,” reads the release. Meals will be paired with wines from The Hatch and Black Swift Vineyards by co-owner and sommelier Mel Loughery.


Freida Whales, a drag queen from Kelowna, will be performing at Black Pine Social’s Sunday drag brunch. Bulldog Grand Café will be hosting special features, including charcuterie and wine pairings, live music, DJs, and weekend brunch menus.


New this year are wine seminars led by industry experts where guests taste wine and learn about the latest trends.


READ MORE: Zias in Summerland celebrates 25 years at iconic stone restaurant 


A shuttle service to Vernon is also available to ensure everyone can indulge in the food and drink celebration and get home safely.


While some events are free to attend like outdoor concerts and a pop-up Artisan Market, most require tickets. Guests must be at least nineteen years of age.


READ MORE: Jonas Brothers world tour making a stop in Vancouver


The festival is at Silver Star Mountain Resort 123 Shortt Street, Silver Star Mountain, Thursday Aug. 10 to Sunday Aug. 13. 


Go here for the complete program of events, to purchase tickets, and find more information.



To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.


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Classically trained cellist to perform Crouching Tiger, Hid…

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The musician was still performing more traditionally with orchestras as a soloist in concertos by the likes of Dvorak and Shostakovich, but it was not what she wanted to do. She was still “grinding” in her spare time to get there. One video changed it all.

In 2010, Guo uploaded a metal arrangement of the 19th century Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee to YouTube. Renamed Queen Bee, it features the musician on electric cello, backed by a full band. It has the aesthetics to match, too – the video is rated 18+ for its sultry, provocative visuals.

Guo’s parents were not happy. “They almost disowned me,” she recalls. “I don’t really blame them that much because I think that’s a pretty extreme deviation from playing the classical cello.”

But the video caught the eye of one Hans Zimmer. When the prolific film composer reached out, she admits, “I didn’t even know who he was.” It was the beginning of a fruitful creative partnership – the two have worked and toured together extensively since. Their collaborations include co-writing the electrifying theme for Wonder Woman, which Guo performed – it has been viewed more than 10 million times on YouTube.

Meeting Zimmer and a gig with Cirque du Soleil were the turning points in Guo’s career – from 2011 to 2013, she toured with the latter’s Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour. “That was my biggest dream, to be like a lead guitar player, basically, and play huge arenas,” she says. “I was so grateful when I had that opportunity.”

Through that job, where she was an official employee – health insurance, salary and all – her parents came around, at last, to her unique version of a musical career. “It took me running away with the circus for my parents to finally be OK with it,” she jokes.

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Guo has racked up a seriously impressive portfolio and set of passport stamps since. She will perform on classical cello this weekend in Melbourne as the soloist with an orchestra celebrating Ang Lee’s award-winning 2000 film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The film will screen alongside its score being recreated live.

Having the opportunity to work on a range of eclectic projects – and spearheading a few of them herself – has transformed the instrument Guo once resented into something adventurous, freeing and distinctively hers.

“You can play so many different types of music with it, not just classical concertos,” she says. “It’s great to be able to do that, and then turn around and shred and make crazy noises on the electric cello.”

Tina Guo is performing two shows with the Green Destiny Orchestra at Hamer Hall in Melbourne on Saturday, August 5, at 1pm and 6pm.

Find out the next TV, streaming series and movies to add to your must-sees. Get The Watchlist delivered every Thursday.

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Salinas Youth Orchestra teaches classical music and life s…

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There’s a youth orchestra in Salinas made up mostly of students from lower-income, underserved communities. The focus isn’t just on turning local young people into classical musicians — it’s also about giving them life skills they’ll carry with them into adulthood.

On a typical rehearsal day, some 200 students go in and out of the Salinas Youth Orchestra, each going to separate classes for their respective instrumental groups: upper strings, lower strings, brass, and woodwinds.

The program is open to all students in the Salinas area, and ranges from 1st to 12th graders. About 90% of the students enrolled come from low-income households, which plays a huge role in why YOSAL emphasizes not just the experience, but also the quality of their music.

“Unfortunately, society doesn’t generally have very high expectations of this demographic: of underserved, at-risk, low income, Hispanic people,” said Executive Director Ameena Khawaja. “There’s really a prejudice against it and there’s just not a lot of expectation. You know, it’s great if you graduate high school, it’s amazing if you go to college, right? Whereas in other demographics, that’s just expected — and that’s what you do.”

Khawaja said that’s the key to understanding why the organization cares so much about producing good musicians: because they have been denied the privilege of expectation.

“Being able to have a Youth Orchestra that is just blowing things out of the water quality wise and is made up of this demographic not only shows the community that they better have expectations, but it also teaches our students and our families to have expectations of themselves,” she said. “Because if society doesn’t have that of you then it’s hard to have that of yourself, right?”

Khawaja says a lot of the students had no musical experience before joining the program, let alone with classical music — which is why it’s so fulfilling when they end up mastering an instrument they may have never had access to otherwise.

Iván Pineda Barajas is one of those students. He’s in 10th grade, and he’s been taking classes at YOSAL for 11 years, starting when he was six years old.

“Well originally, I’m pretty sure it’s because my mom was like, ‘I don’t want to deal with y’all after school, so that’s an opportunity y’all to, like, do something productive,’” he said.

Iván plays the horn, the trombone, the tuba, and the trumpet. He’s learned all of it at YOSAL, and now he’s considering a career as a musician.

YOSAL's 2022 flyer provides information in both English and Spanish.

YOSAL’s 2022 flyer provides information in both English and Spanish.

He recently played a few pieces alongside professional musicians at California State University Monterey Bay as a part of a program called the California Orchestra Academy, which YOSAL is a fiscal sponsor of. One of the songs was an original piece written by Eliodoro Vallecillo, a brass specialist who’s also an instructor at YOSAL.

Vallecillo has been teaching at YOSAL for about five years. He’s the one who taught Iván how to play the tuba. And, just like Iván, he’s a Salinas native. He comes from a world impacted heavily by gang violence, and he said that music has changed his life.

“If it wasn’t for music, I wouldn’t have known the world outside of Salinas or met any people outside of this community. And, really, music for me… it was a life-saving kind of gift,” he saic. “I come from a neighborhood that was heavily impacted by gang violence. My brother was murdered and he was part of that world. And so kind of what I saw growing up was just that world.”

Now, Vallecillo uses his teaching position at YOSAL to give the gift of music back to his community. It goes further than just the music, though. He said what the organization really wants to do is empower their students to become better people — on and off the stage.

“It just kind of makes you a more well-rounded individual, really. Not just a great musician, but it just helps you all-around as well with, like, discipline,” he explained. “I’ve noticed that a lot of students here, especially with Iván. He’s been really stepping up to the plate and just taking on different things. Whether it’s trumpet, horn, tuba… he does it all.”

Vallecillo and Iván are good friends now. And it seems like Iván is taking his lessons to heart.

“The bar is always getting higher because you can never stop learning how to play,” Iván said. “Because… you can always be better.”

For more information about YOSAL, including how to join, you can visit YOSAL.org.



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Classical label Hyperion starts streaming for the first

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Hyperion Records, a classical label founded 43 years ago, has made 200 albums from its catalog available for streaming for the first time on Friday (July 28), four months after being acquired by Universal Music Group.

Founded in the UK in 1980 by the late Ted Perry MBE, the label has been managed by his son, Simon Perry, for over 20 years.

Hyperion aims to stream its entire catalog of over 2,000 recordings by spring 2024. The initial release of 200 albums includes the latest Dvořák album from the Grammy Award-winning Takács Quartet; a collection of choral anthems from Stephen Layton and Trinity College Choir Cambridge; and a new issue in The Orlando Consort’s survey of French poet-composer Guillaume de Machaut.

The label will release subsequent collections every fortnight from September 15. The second phase will feature some of Hyperion’s piano and keyboard artists like pianists Danny Driver, Stephen Hough, Pavel Kolesnikov, Steven Osborne, and harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani among others across more than 70 albums.

“These first 200 albums tell our story, and we look forward to presenting all our work from the past four decades to a new global streaming audience artist-by-artist, series-by-series.”

Simon Perry, Hyperion Records

The succeeding ‘release chapters’ will highlight different genres, including choral music, string quartets, Baroque, early music, and solo vocal performances. New chapters will be unveiled every two weeks, leading up to the complete availability of the entire catalog for streaming by spring 2024.

In addition to releasing its existing catalog for streaming, Hyperion says it will continue to ensure that all new titles are available for streaming, physical purchase, and download. 

The label added that its editorial standards will be maintained in the streaming world, including cover artwork and detailed digital booklets in multiple languages.

The transition to streaming comes after Universal Music Group acquired Hyperion in March, integrating the label into UMG’s collection of classical labels, which includes names like Decca and Deutsche Grammophon. 

It also comes as UMG sharpens its focus on classical music after launching its own streaming service for classical music through Deutsche Grammophon in November 2022.

“The arrival of Hyperion on the world’s streaming platforms offers a special moment of discovery for this precious and pioneering label,” said Dickon Stainer, UMG’s President of Global Classics & Jazz.

Simon Perry, Managing Director of Hyperion, added: “We searched for and found a long-term home that is committed to our values, artists, recordings and editorial style and we are delighted that our entire back catalogue as well as new and future releases will be available on streaming platforms in the coming months.”

“These first 200 albums tell our story, and we look forward to presenting all our work from the past four decades to a new global streaming audience artist-by-artist, series-by-series. Each had their challenges and now they come together to tell a narrative, hopefully a powerful one, of what can happen when you make space for musicians to thrive: it’s why Hyperion has worked.”


The move also comes as the appetite for classical music returns. Apple Music debuted its standalone Apple Music Classical app in March after acquiring classical music streaming service Primephonic.

Martin Kudla, Deputy Director and Digital Marketing Manager at Czech record label SUPRAPHON, had earlier said in an interview with MBW that classical music “is not subject to trends and fads [like] popular music.”

“The genre shows longer-term value across generations,” Kudla said.

Music Business Worldwide

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Why Kevin Hart won’t go to Las Vegas without his wife

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When you’re Kevin Hart, a trip to Sin City doesn’t always stay in Vegas.

One vacation led to a chance meeting with “Straight Out of Compton” producer Will Packer, which opened the doors to a lucrative film career. Another led to a 2017 cheating scandal that would follow him for years. Now Kevin Hart visits Las Vegas only with his wife, Eniko Parrish, by his side.

Hart’s friend and longtime collaborator Harry Ratchford revealed as much while speaking to Los Angeles Times columnist Amy Kaufman for a recent profile on the comedian. According to Ratchford, Hart now books a trip to Vegas “only if his wife is with him.”

Nevertheless, the “Jumanji” actor finds solace in the never-ending excitement of Sin City. “Even though he encountered a misfortune there, it’s always been somewhere where Kev can let his hair down, party, blow off steam and somewhat still move in obscurity,” Ratchford added.

Earlier this month, the multi-hyphenate celebrity brought his Hartbeat Weekend — a four-day comedy and music event — to Las Vegas. Joining him for the boozy ride at Resorts World were J. Cole, Jack Harlow, Ludacris, Kaskade and RL Grime. Also joining Hart for this latest Vegas trip were Parrish, their two teen children, and his brother.

More than five years ago, the “Get Hard” actor and stand-up comedian cheated on Parrish — who was pregnant with their first child — with a woman he had met in Las Vegas. Amid reports that an unidentified woman allegedly tried to extort him for a video featuring sexually suggestive content, Hart apologized to Parrish in an Instagram video shared in September 2017.

“I gotta do better and I will. I’m not perfect and have never claimed to be,” he captioned his video.

Months later, he confessed to the infidelity, telling “The Breakfast Club” in December 2017 he was “beyond irresponsible.

“That’s Kevin Hart in his dumbest moment. That’s not the finest hour of my life,” he said. “With that being said, you make your bed you lay in it. You can’t say what were you thinking, because you weren’t thinking.”

The comedian and Parrish also addressed the scandal in his 2020 Netflix docuseries “Don’t F— This Up.”

Kevin Hart in a bright red outfit standing and smiling at people sitting at a dinner table

Kevin Hart celebrated his 44th birthday in Las Vegas during his Hartbeat Weekend event.

(Kevin Kwan / For The Times)

More than five years after the cheating incident, it seems Hart, Parrish and Las Vegas are all on good terms — at least that’s what it looks like on Instagram. To celebrate Hart’s birthday during Hartbeat Weekend, the couple donned matching crimson ensembles.

“Happy 44th babe,” Parrish captioned one Instagram photo with her husband.

Despite his complicated relationship with Vegas and its seemingly endless partying, Hart told The Times, age has taken its toll.

“I’m still recovering,” he said. “I’m not 26 anymore; 44 is on me now. So I can’t do that consistently — not with my schedule.”



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Boone Chocolat:  Delivering the Food of the Gods  

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By Harley Nefe

At all types of gatherings – whether it be for holidays, celebratory events, or regular get-togethers – a delicious treat can usually be found that is sure to put a smile on everyone’s face: chocolate. 

A local High Country resident is spreading cheer one piece at a time with her midlife transformation that has resulted in a new business venture – Boone Chocolat.

Suzanne Clouzeau is the owner of Boone Chocolat, a small independent business that delivers a high quality product to satisfy the sweet tooth of the local and tourism community.

Boone Chocolat is a pop-up shop, and Clouzeau can often be found with her mobile retail cart at Grandfather Mountain Vineyards, Linville Falls Winery, and other locations across the area.

Clouzeau’s intense love of chocolate comes from her time spent living in Paris, France for several years, where she indulged in the very best French and Belgian chocolates.

“I remember thinking about how much I loved the chocolates,” Clouzeau described. “You can’t go 200 yards without stumbling into a beautiful, wonderful chocolate shop. That was my inspiration.”

Clouzeau has been making chocolates for a long time – over 10 years. However, before this sweet adventure, she used to work in the commercial film industry. 

“I got to my mid-forties, and I was like, ‘I want to make a change,’” Clouzeau shared. “I didn’t want to dread going to work. I wanted to be challenged and have fun. If you’re enjoying what you’re doing, then you are blessed.”

At the age of 47, Clouzeau went back to school, taking many business and chocolate courses.

“I trained and practiced and made lots of mistakes,” Clouzeau said. “Then, when I felt like I could make a decent bonbon, I went back to France and got my professional chocolatier training.”

As a chocolate snob who has tasted some of the finest artisan chocolates in the USA, I have to say Suzanne is making an awesome product – I don’t use that word frivolously. Her chocolates are divine!

– FREDDIE GEORGIA

After more than eight years of education, Clouzeau graduated with honors from Ecole Chocolat in Vancouver, and she earned her Master Chocolatier designation from Ecole Du Grand Chocolat Valrhona in Tain-l’Hermitage, France.

While learning from French professors, Clouzeau trained alongside 13 other students from all over the world, including Russia, Hong Kong, Canada, Belgium, and Germany.

“Here in the States, we are so lucky that you can start over, and you don’t have all that pressure,” Clouzeau described. “In France, if you want to be a chocolatier, you have to decide at the age of 12. You spend 25 years being trained before you get into restaurants. We’re fortunate in that respect. You don’t have to be 12 and decide that that’s what you want to do, and then you are literally stuck doing something for the rest of your life. And it’s mostly guys who do it. It was unbelievable how skilled they were. I was so nervous because they were so phenomenal, but I learned so much. They are artists. That’s what I’m aspiring to be – as artistic as they are.”

Clouzeau further reflected that her previous venture, commercial film, also required a lot of creativity. Because these videos were shot on actual film, much of the work, made easy by digital editing technology, had to be done by hand. Her current interest in chocolate clearly stems from her artistic spirit.

“There’s always new recipes; there’s always new decorations,” Clouzeau explained. “You’re not always making the same.”

Clouzeau’s goal is for customers to love her bonbons as much as she loves creating them for others. 

One of Clouzeau’s close friends and neighbors, Freddie Georgia, said, “As a chocolate snob who has tasted some of the finest artisan chocolates in the USA, I have to say Suzanne is making an awesome product – I don’t use that word frivolously. Her chocolates are divine!”

Georgia has known Clouzeau for 15 years, and she shared that Clouzeau’s passion and enthusiasm are the most important ingredients in her craft.

“I’m loving it, and I’m having the best time of my life,” Clouzeau responded.

“At first, I didn’t realize … I knew in Paris how big of a deal chocolates were, and in Europe. If you’re invited to someone’s house for a meal, you bring either flowers, chocolate, or wine – those are the three most popular,” Clouzeau continued. “So, I knew chocolate was really big in France, but I was like, ‘I’m just going to roll the dice, and hopefully, if I make a really good product, I can get popularity growing in the States. I just rolled the dice and went for it because it just hit me that this is what I want to do. This is the passion in my heart.”

Clouzeau originally intended to open a store for her products; however, as she took business courses and prepared her business model and plans, she discovered being a pop-up was the right path for her. 

“I realized the shop would not be a good move,” Clouzeau explained. “It would have been tough, and I want to have fun. I don’t want to wake up at 3 a.m. and be like, ‘I have to make so many chocolates to break even.’ I want to enjoy this, and I do.”

Something will pop into my head, and I’ll play with it. I made a banana caramel, and that didn’t work too well. I have to keep playing with it, but you get inspiration, you come into the kitchen, and you play.

– SUZANNE CLOUZEAU

Clouzeau has been selling her chocolates professionally since 2017, and the logo for her business was designed by an App State student.

“I paid her, and she used it for her senior project,” Clouzeau said. “I like to take a little credit, but right now, she’s in San Francisco just killing it!”

Customers enjoying the tasty treats. Photo by Freddie Georgia.

Throughout her journey, Clouzeau has received help from many different individuals, including students who are looking for experience.

After deciding on being a pop-up business, Clouzeau reached out to Grandfather Vineyard & Winery and Linville Falls Winery for partnership opportunities.

“They were like, ‘Oh, my God. Yes, come!’” Clouzeau recounted. “They have been so wonderful. They are like, ‘Suzanne, you are welcome any time. If you want to come every day …’ They have been so awesome. The problem is I need to make the chocolates. My challenge is time – making all of the chocolates and selling them.”

Clouzeau makes all of her chocolates by hand and currently has 27 different recipes that she uses.

“Something will pop into my head, and I’ll play with it,” Clouzeau shared. “I made a banana caramel, and that didn’t work too well. I have to keep playing with it, but you get inspiration, you come into the kitchen, and you play.”

“Being French trained, there are recipes I was taught, but I always tweak them a little bit,” Clouzeau continued. “I was thinking one day, ‘I love strawberries. What can I do with strawberries?’ And it hit me – strawberry and lavender. So, I made a dark chocolate ganache with strawberry purée infused with organic lavender blossom and vodka, and it’s molded in white chocolate. I love making this chocolate because the whole kitchen smells like strawberry lavender.”

Clouzeau has a newly built kitchen located on the back of her property.

“That’s what’s great,“ Clouzeau described. “I can put my music on and don’t have to worry; I used to have to worry. I used to rent a commercial kitchen – there’s a great one in West Jefferson – but you just can’t control who will be in there. I would go in, and someone would be baking bread, so it would be too warm, and the humidity wouldn’t be right. This kitchen is mine, and I have total control.”

In her kitchen, Clouzeau has everything she needs to create her craft – a freezer, a refrigerator, a sink, and a cooling room set at 17 degrees celsius with 50% humidity.

“The first thing about making chocolate is knowing that chocolate has six different glycerides or fats,” Clouzeau explained. “You have to melt them down completely, and then you have to temper the chocolate.”

To temper chocolate is to heat and cool the product in a specific way. Clouzeau uses granite slates to do so.

“It’s alchemy – it’s time, temperature, and agitation,” Clouzeau said. “Once you melt chocolate and get those glycerides completely broken down, then you use time, temperature, and the coolness of the granite to lower it to a cooler temperature with the agitation. That gets the chocolate to make a chain – like playing nicely together. If you don’t do that, you won’t have tempered chocolate, and what that means is you won’t have that snap.”

The other challenge we try to aspire to do as chocolatiers is we try to give you the experience. So, when you bite into it, you’re going to get one flavor, and then as it’s melting in your mouth, you’re going to get another flavor and another flavor.

– SUZANNE CLOUZEAU

Clouzeau further described, “If you put a chocolate that is not tempered in your hand, you’ll feel it starting to melt in your fingers. With tempered chocolate, you get that really shiny surface. If the chocolate is not properly tempered, it’s going to have a dull look.” 

Other parts of the process involve grinding up hazelnuts and almonds if pralinés – a sugar-coated nut based candy – are being made. After melting and tempering the chocolate and praliné, it needs to be poured into a frame before cutting it into different shapes. 

“I’ll let it crystalize in my cooling room, and I’ll make the ganache and pipe it in before letting it crystalize again for 24 hours,” Clouzeau said. “Then I can cap them.”

Due to the lengthy process, Clouzeau prefers to have a two-week notice when it comes to orders depending on how many chocolates are needed. 

Clouzeau often holds chocolate pairings with local wineries, where she will typically bring five or six different types of chocolates to match with various drinks.

“Normally, they will tell me the wines that they are going to have, and then I do a pre-tasting, and I bring chocolates,” Clouzeau shared. “We try a bunch of wine and chocolates and see which ones the winemakers like and I like, and then we have the tasting.”

For example, if someone is enjoying a rosé champagne, Clouzeau recommends her Raspberry Club, a raspberry purée sandwiched in praliné, then enrobed in milk chocolate.

“When I pop-up, we have a little cart,” Clouzeau explained. “We have a little display, and on display, we have all of my chocolates. We run through the flavors and describe everything, and people can say, ‘I want a box of six, and I want this one, this one, this one, and that one.’”

A Letter About Clouzeau’s Chocolates:

I am a chocolate snob and have been since I was just a little bean living in Upstate New York near the town of Fulton, famous for its huge Nestle’s chocolate factory. Mom would be at the wheel of our family Rambler as we’d drive by with the windows rolled down, inhaling the scrumptious air that always made me ask; “Can we move to Fulton?”

Mom was a biology professor and a bit of a prankster, so it all seemed in good taste for her to treat my friends and I to chocolate covered ants and grasshoppers on special occasions. These fine specimens would come individually wrapped in gold foil and had a wonderful crunch. That is, until my mom would say something like “Enjoy that thorax!” after you’d eaten your second piece. What I knew even back then (despite the insect), was that these chocolates were far better than Nestle’s Crunch.

Fast forward more than a few decades to rural Ashe County where I settled on a farm with a new boyfriend and great neighbors, including Suzanne and Didier Clouzeau. The Clouzeaus and I shared a love of rescue dogs, gardening, and rural living. 

Meanwhile, my boyfriend and I started a tradition of ordering artisan chocolates from far and wide for holidays and special occasions. It hadn’t taken me any time to turn him into a chocolate snob.

You can imagine our elation when Suzanne decided to become a chocolatier. We knew all about her love of European culture, her talents as a gourmet vegetarian cook, and her sense of perfectionism, so we felt certain she’d succeed. We rooted her on while she studied in France, we offered to be test subjects for any experimental creations when she returned, and when she hit the big time as Boone Chocolat, we became some of her first and most impassioned fans. 
The gal knows how to make bonbons. Hands down, lips smacked. She’s got the passion and the talent as found in such creations as her Mango-Lime Cacao, Raspberry Club, Mint Truffle, Cherry Jazz or Rosé Lips. We especially enjoy the way Suzanne combines ingredients like lavender, chili peppers, beer, mint, tequila, pralines, and so much more. Once her kitchen was finished in 2022, I could hardly wait to make some sensational, if not sexy, photos of her chocolates.

As a child living up the road from the Nestle’s factory, I didn’t know the word ‘aphrodisiac,’ but I sure do now. There are a few other words I’d pair with Suzanne’s chocolates … words like divine, elegant, sumptuous, ambrosial, magnificent meltdown. But don’t take my ‘words’ for it. The proof is inside the box. The bonbon box from Boone Chocolat.

  – Freddie Georgia

Clouzeau can regularly be found holding her pop-up shop on weekends at the wineries among other local places such as Hounds Ear Club.

“I usually bring about 30-40 extra of each chocolate because people want to buy them,” Clouzeau said. “A problem I’m having is selling out on the weekends.”

When asked what the best-selling product is, Clouzeau answered, the Madagascar Vanilla Caramel. 

“My Madagascar caramel is probably my most popular, and it’s probably the easiest for me to make,” Clouzeau said. “I can probably make it in my sleep right now.”

While she does not have a personal favorite product, Clouzeau said there are some chocolates that she has more fun making because they are more of a challenge, such as the layered chocolates like Café Au Lait. This is a double-layered bonbon with almond praliné, milk chocolate, and ground coffee in the bottom layer and white chocolate caramel in the top layer.

Another popular choice are chocolates with Appalachian State University’s A decorated on them, which Clouzeau received the rights to use. She pays a royalty to the college every quarter based on what she sells.

Suzanne Clouzeau spreads smiles with her sweets. Photo by Freddie Georgia.

“It’s a dark beer milk chocolate caramel molded in dark chocolate,” Clouzeau described. “You get this really soft, gooey caramel. You also get a little maltiness from the dark beer, but it’s chocolate.” 

In order to receive the rights to use the App State logo, Clouzeau explained, “You have to apply and fill out all of these questions. They wanted to make sure I was going to represent the university correctly. I told them I use chocolate manufacturers that engage in fair trading practices. They wanted to make sure that whoever is representing the college is ethical.”

Clouzeau sources her chocolate from a variety of places including west Africa, Madagascar, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Brazil. Depending on which chocolates she’s making and for what events, she sources from small batches and large distributors.

One of her Belgian distributors is Callebaut. 

“They are fantastic about free trade and treating farmers very well,” Clouzeau shared. “That’s two of the reasons why I chose them in particular. I want to make sure the farmers are well taken care of. I think that’s very important because they are going to take better care of the cacao trees. The prince of cacao, Creole, is the oldest cacao tree, and it’s very rare because it’s more fragile and susceptible to disease.”

Clouzeau has a bag of Creole that she uses for wine pairings at Grandfather and Linville, especially with their wine clubs.

“They’ve had my chocolates a lot, so I brought in the Creole just to let them try the prince of cacao – this rare chocolate – and I’m hoping that if the farmers are well taken care of, then they’ll have more motivation to keep the prince of cacao going, so we don’t lose it. It’s a phenomenal chocolate,” Clouzeau explained.

Chocolate is made from the beans of cacao trees, which are native to Central and South America. 

“The cacao tree can only grow along the equator, 20 degrees below and 20 degrees above, and it’s slowly spreading from South America to Asia,” Clouzeau said. “Asia is starting to grow chocolate. I haven’t tried any of theirs, but I want to.”

Suzanne Clouzeau can often be seen with her mobile retail cart doing pop-ups. Photo by Freddie Georgia.

The history of chocolate, and its creation from the beans of the cacao tree, can be traced to ancient Maya and even the Olmecs of southern Mexico. 

“Thousands of years ago, chocolate came from Mesoamerica, and they would drink it,” Clouzeau described. “It wasn’t a solid like we know chocolate today, and they would put chili peppers in it.” 

Instead of the rich-tasting treat that is popular now, chocolate used to be a bitter beverage. 

“When the Olmecs, Mayans, and Aztecs were drinking this, it was considered food of the Gods,” Clouzeau said. 

Theobroma Cacao is a scientific name for a type of tree that cacao beans are sourced from. Theobroma is a Greek word that means ‘food of the Gods.’ Cacao is a Mayan word for ‘bitter/acidic water’ and later came to be associated with chocolate. When the Mayan word, with its modern definition, and the Greek word are combined, Theobroma Cacao can be interpreted as ‘chocolate is the food of the Gods.’

The Spanish brought chocolate to Europe, where originally it was a drink for the wealthy. Over time, others were able to enjoy chocolate as well. 

“It was the Belgians that made it into the solid that we know today,” Clouzeau said.

Clouzeau mainly gets her ingredients from two different sources – a French and Belgian manufacturer. 

“Every once in a while, I will play with different chocolates,” Clouzeau said.

Clouzeau’s historical knowledge of chocolate sparked her inspiration in creating her Devil’s Choice variety, which is dark chocolate ganache infused with dried chili peppers and cinnamon, molded in dark chocolate. 

Her background and experience makes her a master chocolatier. When I have the pleasure to indulge in one of her elegant chocolates, it transports me back to when I visited a gourmet chocolate shop in Belgium. I often tell folks it’s not just chocolate, it’s an experience. We as a business feel so blessed to be able to partner with Suzanne and her amazing confections.

– LINDA WISEMAN

“I like when I’m doing infusions, like my Devil’s Choice,” Clouzeau shared. “When I’m infusing it with the chili peppers, you don’t always know what you’re going to get because sometimes the chilies are a little bit hotter than others. I like when they are a little more complicated because it’s a challenge that I enjoy.”

 As Forrest Gump once said, “Life is like a box of chocolate. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

“The other challenge we try to aspire to do as chocolatiers is we try to give you the experience,” Clouzeau described. “So, when you bite into it, you’re going to get one flavor, and then as it’s melting in your mouth, you’re going to get another flavor and another flavor.”

One example of this experience can be found by tasting Clouzeau’s Paradise.

“It is a white chocolate ganache with mango and passion fruit purée, so when you bite into it, you’re going to get – and everyone is a little bit different – either the milk chocolate first, or you’re going to get the mango and the passion fruit, then you’re going to get the lime,” Clouzeau detailed. “Then after the chocolate is practically gone, on your tongue, you’re going to taste licorice. That’s coming from Pastis.” 

Guests indulge in the delicious truffles. Photo by Freddie Georgia.

Over the years, Clouzeau has been reflecting on what she has learned from her experiences.

Clouzeau shared, “Chocolate is not easy. I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way. Chocolate is temperamental, and if you don’t treat chocolate right, you’re not going to have beautiful looking chocolates. I still struggle with certain molds getting little air bubbles. I bang my molds to get those air bubbles out, but every once in a while, they are there. It’s a lot of trial and error, especially with my new recipes.”

However, experimenting with chocolate is what helps Clouzeau determine which recipes she will share with the world. She is starting to build a large following, as Linda Wiseman, the Tasting Room Manager at Linville Falls Winery, said, “I am a big fan! She really is talented, and her craft is fantastic.”

Wiseman further shared these words about Clouzeau: “She is an amazing and talented woman, cultivating the most delicious bonbons out of the finest ingredients, sourcing cocoa from various countries, bringing the High Country outstanding and beautiful truffles. Her background and experience makes her a master chocolatier. When I have the pleasure to indulge in one of her elegant chocolates, it transports me back to when I visited a gourmet chocolate shop in Belgium. I often tell folks, ‘it’s not just chocolate; it’s an experience.’ We as a business feel so blessed to be able to partner with Suzanne and her amazing confections.”

In response, Clouzeau said, “I’m so blessed that they have welcomed me with open arms.”

Nicole Tatum, Event Coordinator at Grandfather Vineyard & Winery, shared, “Suzanne has been bringing her delicious artisan chocolate and friendly face to Grandfather Vineyard for five years. She has forged an amazing partnership with us and quickly became a cherished friend to employees and customers, alike! Her expertise and knowledge in chocolate has made her a true Boone treasure!”

“I’ll go to wineries, and people will go, ‘You’re here! We’re so thrilled you’re here. You’re chocolates are so good!’” Clouzeau described. “And Nicole will be like, ‘Suzanne, there are already a few people asking if you’re here.’ To see how excited they are to get my chocolates, that’s the greatest compliment you can get – To see the excitement. Sure, my demographics are older, professional women, but I’m starting to see men as well as younger people.”

Suzanne Clouzeau is eager to share her chocolates with others. Photo by Freddie Georgia.

Clouzeau also said that she has started to see repeat customers as well who reach out to her and say, “We’re going to be in town. Where are you going to be? We have to get more of your chocolates!”

“That touches the heart,” Clouzeau responded.

As far as what the future holds, Clouzeau plans to venture into more wholesaling with local businesses. Boxes of artisan chocolate can already be purchased during business hours at Grandfather Mountain Vineyards and Linville Falls Winery.

“My chocolates are always available at Grandfather and Linville, even if I’m not there. They will sell my little boxes of four chocolates,” Clouzeau said. “I advertise where I’m going to be, and I give out my business cards. You can always call me or send me a text, and I’ll meet you to give you chocolate. Or, I’ll send chocolate. I’ve sent chocolate down to Charlotte, Texas, and Louisiana.”

For more information about Boone Chocolat and its products, please contact Suzanne Clouzeau at 704-796-2801 or via email at boonechocolat@gmail.com. To see the schedule of upcoming appearances, visit the website at https://www.boonechocolat.com/ or follow @boonechocolat on Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date on latest announcements.

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Barbie soundtrack album breaks chart record by getting thre…

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And Finally Artist News

By Chris Cooke | Published on Monday 31 July 2023

So this ‘Barbie’ film then, that’s a thing isn’t it? I ran some checks over the weekend and can definitely confirm, a thing it is. There’s a soundtrack too, of course, and that had quite an impact on the UK singles chart on Friday.

In the week following the release of the film and ‘Barbie: The Album’, six tracks from the record were sufficiently streamed to appear in the UK Top 40, three of them in the top five.

Billie Eilish’s ‘What Was I Made For’ is at number three, Dua Lipa’s ‘Dance The Night’ is at four, and Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice’s ‘Barbie World’, complete with a little bit of Aqua, is at number five.

That’s Aqua’s first appearance in the top five in 25 years, the Official Charts Company told us on Friday. And their actual 1997 song ‘Barbie Girl’ has also been pushed back into the top 40 – just, at number 40 – despite not being on the soundtrack.

The other tracks from the soundtrack on the chart this week are Charli XCX’s ‘Speed Drive’ at number nineteen, Ryan Gosling performing ‘I’m Just Ken’ at number 25 and Lizzo’s ‘Pink’ at number 39.

And now another nugget of chart trivia courtesy of the OCC. ‘Barbie: The Album’ is “the first film soundtrack in UK chart history to land three top five singles simultaneously”.

The soundtracks for ‘Saturday Night Fever’ and ‘Grease’ both had three tracks in the top ten at the same time when they were released in 1978, but not the top five. Though had streaming existed back then, they’d probably have matched or out-performed the ‘Barbie’ soundtrack chart success.

But it didn’t, and that’s not Barbie’s fault.



READ MORE ABOUT: Barbie The Movie | Billie Eilish | Charlie XCX | Dua Lipa | Ice Spice | Lizzo | Nicki Minaj | Ryan Gosling


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‘Shifting perspectives for the better’: World-renowned

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‘Shifting perspectives for the better’: World-renowned violinist takes classical music in a new direction

Grammy Award-winning violinist Nicola Benedetti speaks to Bianna Golodryga about taking on “the role of a lifetime” as director of Edinburgh International Festival and the future of the classical music world.

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