A Great Taste for Us, a Great Danger for Dogs

 

Chocolate: A Great Taste for Us, a Great Danger for Dogs

eric and dogs

 

 

Most people with a sweet tooth love chocolate, but chocolate can be toxic to dogs. Chocolate poisoning can cause serious health issues in dogs, and is the most common cause of dog poisoning, according to WebMD’s Pet Health information. But how can something that tastes so good be so bad for our four-legged friends?

Why Is Chocolate Toxic to Dogs?

Chocolate contains two substances that are harmful to dogs when ingested: caffeine and theobromine, an alkaloid. While these substances are harmless to humans, they can cause serious problems if your pet ingests them. Dogs’ bodies aren’t built to handle the stress that caffeine and theobromine put on their systems.

Certain kinds of chocolate are more harmful to dogs than others, notes PetMD. For example, white chocolate may not necessarily be toxic, but its high sugar content could lead to tummy problems. Milk chocolate, on the other hand, has a low level of toxicity, but should still be taken seriously, while dark or baking chocolate have a very high level of toxicity and ingestion of these types of chocolate should be considered an emergency.

What Are the Signs of Chocolate Poisoning?

If your dog has chocolate poisoning, he will exhibit symptoms that can include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, seizure, muscle rigidity and even seizure. As your pet’s body reacts to the substances in chocolate that are harmful to him, his system will be stressed and start to shut down.

What Should I Do if My Dog Eats Chocolate?

If your dog ingests chocolate, you should call your vet or the ASPCA’s poison control center at 888-426-4435. The experts on the phones will help you to determine how serious the situation is by asking you how much and what kind of chocolate your dog ingested. Based on your dog’s situation, they can recommend whether you should induce vomiting or take your dog to a clinic where he or she can receive treatment. If only a small amount of low-level toxicity chocolate was consumed, you may be instructed just to keep an eye on your pet for the rest of the day.

While not guaranteed to be consistently accurate for your pet, as each pet’s metabolism varies just the same as people, PetMD offers an online calculator that shows the toxicity of different types of chocolate for dogs based on the amount consumed and the dog’s weight. Though chocolate can be harmful to our furry friends, that doesn’t mean that we can’t still enjoy it! Just make sure to keep the chocolate of your choice – especially our handmade artisan chocolates that are much better enjoyed by people – out of your pet’s reach!

 

The Rise of Artisanal Chocolate

For the better part of the last century, chocolate culture in America had been suffering from something of an identity crisis. Americans have always loved chocolate, but until recently many of us have tended to favor quantity at the expense of quality. Mass produced chocolates distributed in king-sized packages, designed to be devoured rather than savored, have dominated the market – leaving consumers with a sweet, albeit somewhat unsatisfying taste lingering in their collective mouth.

Over the course of the past twenty years, however, a small, devoted group of chocolatiers has made it their mission to provide American consumers with a fresh, great-tasting alternative to supermarket chocolates. These enterprising souls treat chocolate making as a creative endeavor, a craft, even a calling. At The Chocolate Fetish, we’re proud to be part of this movement to bring the time-honored tradition of fine chocolate making to a new generation of sweet-tooths.

We always serve our chocolates with a smile.

We work closely with a network of chocolate makers in order to personally select the chocolates that comprise our truffles, bars, sea salt caramels, and other delectable delights. We choose each chocolate based on its unique flavor profile in order to produce confections of uncommon quality for our patrons. Then, we employ traditional chocolate-making techniques in order to infuse contemporary ideas with classic sensibilities.

Delving into the rich world of artisanal chocolate might seem intimidating to the uninitiated, but there are a few easily identifiable features to look for that are indicative of good-quality chocolate. The chocolate should be shiny rather than dull, and free of any streaks, spots, or residues. The chocolate should smell like chocolate, and it should have an audible snap when you break it in half. Finally, it should feel pleasantly smooth in your mouth; not dry or waxy. High-quality chocolates are also typically made with cocoa butter rather than vegetable oil substitutions.

Many people associate darker chocolate with high-quality chocolate, but this is not necessarily the case. You won’t have to look too far to find dark chocolates of inferior quality, and there are plenty of examples of exceptional milk chocolate out there as well. Likewise, it’s best to make these judgements on a case-by-case basis. In determining which kind of chocolate is better – extra dark, dark, or milk – we think it’s best to go with your proverbial gut. If it tastes good, enjoy it!

Stop in today, and find out just how delicious a box of chocolates can be. Want to learn more about our trade? Check out our chocolate facts page for more information.

 

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Make Your Thanksgiving Dinner Table One to Remember

Now that the month of November is officially upon us, one of the most prominent topics on everyone’s minds seems to be Thanksgiving and the subsequent preparation that goes along with it. For those who have chosen to host the festivities at their own table this year, we have one piece of advice on how to make your Thanksgiving dinner one to remember: think outside of the turkey.

Certainly, the turkey and its trimmings should leave both you and you guests feeling more than satisfied, but it’s important to remember that for some, the most exciting part of every meal is the dessert that follows.

Amongst the plethora of pies that adorn your dessert table each year, we would highly encourage you to add an array of gorgeous, handmade artisan chocolates from The Chocolate Fetish, as well.

As previously mentioned, overindulging in a large Thanksgiving meal may sometimes cause a guest to pass on dessert. Though their sweet tooth may be craving a taste of sugar, the limited option of one heavy slice of pie or another may simply be too much. Offering an assortment of small yet delectable truffles, caramels, frogs and more will not only add variety to your table, but it will eliminate any reason for someone to ignore that sweet tooth.Handmade Artisan Chocolates for Thanksgiving | The Chocolate Fetish

When placing your holiday order with us, remember that though our petite chocolate creations are considered a favorite among many, your size options are not limited to bite-sized sweets. The Chocolate Fetish’s larger, hand-decorated chocolate pumpkins and Jack O’Lanterns, along with our chocolate turkeys and hand-painted maple leaves not only make delicious desserts, but perfect table centerpieces, as well. We believe that being able to indulge in your table’s ornaments once Thanksgiving dinner has come to an end is a far better alternative than storing them away for another year; don’t you? There’s no better way to enjoy chocolate than as a dessert and as an art.

To ensure that your chocolates ship and arrive in time for Thanksgiving dinner, please be sure to place all orders before noon on Friday, November 21st. Visit our website today and inquire about what our chocolatiers can create for you.

 

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In Honor of Elaine Gonzalez, chocolatier.

Noted chocolatier, Elaine Gonzalez, passed away this July.  Our owner Sue, and myself both had the opportunity to attend some of her classes and learn about chocolate with her.  Elaine’s passion for chocolate, mastery of chocolate, and kind unassuming nature was an inspiration to both of us as well as countless other chocolate lovers.  Here are excerpts from an article that appeared in the Chicago Tribune commemorating her life and work.

Noted chocolatier, Elaine Gonzalez, passed away this July.

Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune

3:18 p.m. CDT, July 26, 2014
Elaine Gonzalez of Northbrook, an innovative chocolatier noted for transforming chocolate into edible bowls, plates, ornaments, flowers and much, much more, died July 25. She was 79.
“She was an artist and took chocolate to new places,” said restaurateur Ina Pinkney. “Everything she did had this artistry. She was more comfortable with that ingredient than anyone I ever saw with any other ingredient. It was like she was one with the chocolate.”  “I never saw anyone roll, twist and coax chocolate like she did,” Pinkney added. “I was always in awe and always learned something.”
Judith Dunbar Hines, formerly Chicago’s director of culinary arts and events, agreed that Gonzalez was a chocolate trail-blazer who could create all sorts of “fantastical things.” But what Hines remembers most is a recipe for chocolate rice pudding.  “It was a Mexican recipe…and she made it her signature,” Hines recalled. “Her style was more like the chocolate pudding. She was very quiet and calming….There was no drama out of this woman – ever.”
While Gonzalez trained with some chefs, she told the Chicago Tribune in 1983 that she most of what she learned came from family. Her mother, the late Mary Garcia, was a cooking teacher noted for elaborate cakes, the Tribune wrote in 2001 in reporting Mrs. Garcia’s death, and “whose lessons in the 1960s and ’70s opened an era of specialized cooking at home.”
Gonzalez modestly attributed her success to timing and fate in a brief biographical passage included in “Chicago Cooks,” a book of food history and memories by members of the Chicago chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a professional group.  “I was there when the chocolate craze hit this country in the late 1970s and early 1980s,” she recalled, crediting an assignment to teach a chocolate class – a subject she claimed to knowing “next to nothing” – at The Complete Cook, a North Shore cookware shop owned by the late Elaine Sherman, for getting her in the chocolate game.
“Using skills from my party-food and cake-decorating experiences, I taught what turned out to be my first class in chocolate artistry: edible, chocolate-mint-flavored place cards, personalized lollipops, and a few fancy confections,” Gonzales remembered. “Nobody had ever seen anything like that before and neither had I. I must have had an angel sitting on my shoulder that night because in spite of my lack of chocolate experience, everything worked and the excitement in the classroom was beyond description – mine as well as theirs.”
Described in “Chicago Cooks” as “an accomplished teacher of ‘all things chocolate,'” she taught at local cookware shops; became a master chocolatier; launched in 1983 a chocolate consulting firm called Chocolate Artistry; served as a consultant for Peter’s Chocolate and, in 2006, was inducted into the Candy Hall of Fame. She also wrote two books on chocolate, 1983’s “Chocolate Artistry” and “The Art of Chocolate,” published in 1998.
Chocolate rice pudding recipe
Makes: 8 servings
Elaine Gonzalez demonstrated and shared this recipe with students in the now-defunct city of Chicago’s World Kitchen program. The director, Judith Dunbar Hines, added the following headnote: “This recipe is a favorite from friend and author Elaine Gonzalez, who like the dish, has roots in Spain but a heart in Mexico, where the large production of fine cooking chocolate with cinnamon is reflected in this dish. It takes a bit of patience to make, but is well worth it!”
2 quarts milk
1 ounce coarsely chopped unsweetened chocolate (use Mexican chocolate if possible)
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 4-inch piece Mexican cinnamon bark
1/2 cup short-grain rice
2 large egg yolks
Cocoa for dusting the final dish before serving
1.) In a large, deep saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk, chocolate and 1 cup of the sugar plus the cinnamon bark to a boil, stirring frequently. Lower the heat and add the rice. Stir with a wooden spoon to prevent the grains from sticking together. Don’t be concerned if the milk at first appears to be speckled with chocolate, as this will change as the cooking progresses.
2.) Simmer, uncovered, over very gentle heat for 1 hour, stirring the mixture most of the time. Check for doneness by squeezing a grain of rice between your fingers…it should feel completely tender with no hard part in the center.
3.) Whisk the egg yolks and the remaining tablespoon of sugar in a small bowl until well mixed. Remove 1/2 cup of cooked rice from the pot and stir into the eggs, stirring vigorously to avoid scrambling the eggs. Add this mixture to the pot, stirring for 5 minutes. The pudding should now be the consistency of soft custard (it will continue to thicken as it cools). Discard the cinnamon bark, transfer the pudding to a metal bowl set over ice and let cool, stirring occasionally. When it is room temperature, it may be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for several hours.
 4.) Dust the pudding with cocoa powder and serve with lots of hot coffee, also flavored with Mexican cinnamon.
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC

The Chocolate Fetish Wins Over a Dozen Awards at National Competition

For the third year in a row we entered the international Chocolate Salon’s Award Competition and we are delighted to announce that we earned 15 medals!   The awards won include one Gold Medal, eight Silver Medals, seven Bronze Medals, and two Honorable Mentions.  The medals recognize excellence in a variety of categories including Most Artistic Designs, Most Luxurious Chocolate Experience, and Best Taste.  Awards are decided by a panel of esteemed judges including culinary experts, respected magazine and newspaper editors, and food and lifestyle gurus.

Among the many products that received awards at The International Chocolate Salon was our Four Piece Favor Box featuring Velvet Sin Ecstasy Truffles and Hand Decorated Dark Chocolate Hearts.  The Four Piece Favor Box features a long time customer favorite, Velvet Sin Truffles.  Velvet Sin Truffles are a decadent blend of four European Dark Chocolates; the ultimate dark chocolate experience.  One judge mentioned that The Chocolate Fetish was among their favorite in the competition while another commented on the Velvet Sin Truffles saying, “The dark chocolate ones were amazing!”  Another judge mentioned us as one of their favorite overall chocolatiers!

We also won a variety of awards for our Custom Bride and Groom Wedding Toppers.  These are one of my favorite products that we are currently offering.  We can customize these including skin tones and hair colors to make them truly individualized and perfectly match the real bride and groom.  These chocolate Bride and Groom cake toppers don;t just have to go on top of a cake… they would also make great gifts for the bridal party or bride and groom’s parents.

Here is the full listing of each of the awards we received and the products we received them for:

Luxury Caramel Awards

Sea Salt Caramel Collection – Bronze Best Ingredient Combinations

Habenero Sea Salt Caramel – Honorable Mention Best Taste & Most Unique

Top Chocolate Bar Awards

Hazelnut Crisp Bar – Bronze Best Milk Chocolate Bar

74% Cranberry Pistachio Bar – Bronze Best Taste

Bridal Luxury Chocolate Salon

Custom Bride and Groom Cake Topper – Silver Best Bridal Gift Set, Silver Best Traditional Chocolates, Silver Most Artistic Designs

Four Piece Favor Box – Silver Best Dark Chocolate, Silver Most Luxurious Chocolate Experience, Silver Best Flavored Chocolate, Silver Best for The Wedding Reception, Silver Best in Salon

Best White Chocolate Awards

Midsummer’s Dream Ecstasy Elite Truffle – Silver Best Ingredient Combinations, Bronze Best Texture

Chai Moon Ecstasy Elite Truffle – Bronze Best Taste, Bronze Best Texture

 

 

 

Spiceland’s Time Machine

“Samurai” on display at The Satellite Gallery until March 23rd.

Asheville is a city alive with the arts and The Chocolate Fetish is frequently blessed by the creative energies of local artists.  If you’ve been following our blog and Facebook pages then you have probably heard about talented artist Joshua Spiceland.  In addition to being an artist he is also an art teacher and part time chocolatier.  If you’ve eaten a Sea Salt Caramel from us in the last four years then chances are good his hand helped make it.  We frequently find doodles and works in progress tucked around the shop on there way to other places.


An exhibition of Spiceland’s work is on display at The Satellite Gallery in Asheville until March 23rd.  The show, titled “Time Machine,” features numerous paintings in Spiceland’s eclectic folk art inspired style. Spiceland draws inspiration form many things including art history and music and many works incorporate detailed geometric patterns.  Titles of pieces range from “Fishing for Inspiration”, “Killing Time”, and “These Rooms Have Seen It All.”   In the world of Asheville art this is a must see exhibition and a good chance to get a great deal on some fine art as Spiceland usually prices his art very affordably.  
You can see the show at The Satellite Gallery located at 5 Broadway Street in Downtown Asheville .  The gallery’s hours are 11am – 6 pm Tuesday – Saturday and 11 am – 5 pm on Sunday adn the show will be up until March 23rd.
If you would like to read more about the exhibition or about Spiceland’s art check out the following links:

Small Business Saturday

We're giving away 40 of these tote bags for FREE!  Read more to find out how to get yours.

We’re giving away 40 of these tote bags for FREE! I wonder how many pounds of chocolate one will hold?

I know you’ve heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but have you heard of Small Business Saturday?  Sandwiched right between the two biggest shopping days of the year that mostly support big box and chain stores is a day encouraging you to shop small and support locally owned, independent businesses.  Small Business Saturday is celebrated on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, this year it falls on Saturday, November 30th.

In 2010 American Express spearheaded the Small Business Saturday movement offering cardholders a credit on their accounts when they shopped at small businesses.  Today the movement has grown to being officially recognized by the US Senate and generating an estimated $5.5 Billion in consumer spending at small businesses.  If you are an American Express Cardholder you can go to www.shopsmall.com to register your card and receive a $10 credit on your statement.  Be sure to register soon as space is limited.

We hope you’ll come by this Saturday and do your part to help make Small Business Saturday one of the biggest shopping days of the year for small businesses like us!  In celebration of Small Business Saturday we have a special FREE offer for you.  This Saturday, November 30th be one of  the first 30 in store customers to mention Small Business Saturday (or first 10 online customers to write “Small Business Saturday” in the additional information section) and you’ll receive a free Shop Small Tote Bag!  So… what are you going to put in your tote bag?

Pick Your Chocolate Purse!

Hand Sculpted Chocolate Purses.  Yes!  They are as delicious as they are beautiful.

Hand Sculpted Chocolate Purses. Yes! They are as delicious as they are beautiful.

What’s the only thing more exciting than winning a designer hand bag?  Winning a hand sculpted chocolate purse!  We are so excited about an upcoming promotion we are sponsoring with local radio station, Mix 96.5!  The promotion, “Pick Your Purse” begins next week and gives 96 people the chance to win great prizes including $1000 cash, designer handbags, hand sculpted chocolate purses, massages and more!  I know your excited to hear more about the chocolate purses… but hold on a second while I tell you all about how “Pick Your Purse” works and how you can win $1000 which may actually be better than winning a hand sculpted chocolate purse… although then again, maybe not.

Starting next Monday you can go to Mix 96.5’s website and register to qualify.  Then listen to 96.5 and if you hear your name called out call to claim your spot as a finalist.  On Saturday, December 7th join us at Paramount Kia in Asheville for your chance to win any number of great prizes, and taste some special chocolate samples.  At the event there will be a reverse raffle with the final 12 names called getting to pick one of a dozen designer handbags for their prize.  When all 12 finalists have selected their purses they will open them together and one lucky winner will find $1000 stuffed inside.  Everyone that qualifies as a finalist will win some sort of prize, it may be a gift card from The Chocolate Fetish, or a free massage or facial from Massage Envy, or any number of other fabulous prizes.

Here you can see the first stage of creating chocolate purses.  Later I will add handles, buckles, buttons and other embellishments, all made out of chocolate of course!

Here you can see the first stage of creating chocolate purses. Later I will add handles, buckles, buttons and other embellishments, all made out of chocolate of course!

Winners’ number 13, 14 and 15 will each get to choose from three Chocolate purse sculptures.  You can’t stuff it full of all your miscellaneous paraphernalia but you can eat the entire decadently delicious thing, if you can bring yourself to destroy it.  Each chocolate purse is made entirely from our high quality custom blended chocolates and each one is a unique one of a kind edible masterpiece.

So which would you rather have?  A one of a kind edible chocolate purse or a designer handbag filled with $1000?

Mix 96.5 Website  http://mix965asheville.com/

Begining a Family Tradition… with chocolate!

Questions about our heirloom quality Advent calendars are pouring in so I thought I would take a moment to answer some of them on our blog.  I grew up with advent calendars.  Every year right after Thanksgiving my mom would give me a small cardboard calendar with 24 perforated doors.  Resisting the urge to drool, I would anxiously await December 1st, the day I got to open the first little door and savor the little morsel of chocolate behind it.  Advent Calendars filled with chocolate were a part of Christmas for me like decorating the tree and making Christmas cookies; they were a tradition I will always cherish.  For generations, families have marked the coming of Christmas in a variety of ways. From simple chalk markings to lighting candles, families have employed unique ways to enjoy the counting of the 24 days before Christmas.

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Here we are getting ready to fill the Advent Calendars with our chocolates. Each box represents a different day. Each bag is filled with two chocolates and decorated with festive holiday garland. You’ll never get the same chocolate twice!

Our Heirloom Advent Calendars are thoughtfully designed with 24 numbered doors behind which are a variety of our handcrafted artisan chocolates.  Every day you can savor a different Christmas themed chocolate shape in a variety of milk, dark and white chocolates.  These wooden calendars can be used year after year providing a tradition that your family is sure to treasure.  We make it easy for you to continue the tradition year after year with refill packages, 24 individually wrapped chocolates ready for you to refill your calendar.

The big question people keep asking me is, “Christmas, already?  It’s not even Halloween yet, why so early?”  For those of us who really get in the Christmas spirit it’s never too early for Christmas but more importantly advent starts on the first of December.  That gives us exactly 35 days to get all these wonderful Advent Calendars filled with delicious chocolate and heading your way.  If you’d like to see all the calendars you can check them out here http://bit.ly/16eBCvp.

The Southern Highlands Craft Guild Show

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This weekend at The Asheville Civic Center (I’m supposed to call it US Cellular Center but I just can’t bring myself to do it) is the Southern Highlands Craft Guild Show.  In my humble opinion this is one of the best Craft Shows in the country, and we’re blessed to have it on our doorstep.  This is a juried show representing high quality art and focusing on traditional Appalachian crafts like pottery, weaving, woodworking and blacksmithing.

The Southern Highland Craft Guild represents over 1000 craftspeople in 293 counties and 9 southeastern states. It operates five retail craft shops and two annual craft expositions which represent the Guild members’ work. These shows occur in July and October and have been an event in the Appalachian mountain region since 1948.

A ticket to the Craft Show will cost you $8.00 but it is money well spent.  Even if  you don’t buy anything (which I’m sure you’ll l be tempted to do) it’s a wonderful opportunity to check out some of our region’s most talented artisans and even get a chance to meet them and talk to them about their work.  There is also ample entertainment with live demonstrations and traditional mountain music.  Just walking by the Civic Center (US Cellular Center) you can watch Dede Styles spinning yarn and practicing natural dyeing techniques.

If you’ve been debating about whether to make a visit to Asheville this weekend, I strongly encourage it.   Not only can you visit the Craft Show but the leaves are also starting to turn and its shaping up to be a beautiful weekend.  And with the government back up and running all the services and campgrounds on the Blue Ridge Parkway are open again.  While you’re here don’t forget to swing by and taste a little fall.  Our seasonal Pumpkin Pie Truffles and Maple Walnut Caramel Cups are not to be missed!

The Craft Fair runs through Sunday.  For more info visit http://bit.ly/cVyCLc