As I mentioned before, The Hill Team is going to be attending the 3rd Annual Harvest on the Harbor, Portland, ME, October 21-23, 2010. I trying to share as much a I can about the participants ahead of time as they are all so intesting.
Meg Swoboda, owner of Sweet Marguerites, will be the featured dessert at the Grand Tasting on the Harbor and Savory Samplings at the Marketplace–Another delicious treat to try. I can see Norm and I will have a day of grazing continually.
Sweet Marguerites is the pride and joy of the Swoboda family, in South Portland, Maine. The family’s passion is making and sharing the finest homemade chocolates. Every step of the chocolate making process is done with care and using the finest ingredients. The Swobodas make each batch of chocolates entirely by hand. They consider the chocolate making process a craft and make their sweets with an artisan approach.
Meg has a culinary arts degree and has trained with chocolatiers from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY and Ecole Chocolate in Oregon. Her passion for chocolate keeps her in the kitchen many nights, testing new flavors and techniques. Nothing makes her happier than the process of melting and tempering fine couveture chocolate.
The remainder of the family, husband Bill, daughter Anna, and son Jeff, do just about everything else, from sample tasting, to construction, shipping and handling, production, web management, support and encouragement. Without them Sweet Marguerites would still be a dream.
I had some questions for Meg.
Meg: My favorite recipe is our Fleur de Sel Caramel. It’s based on a macadamia nut turtle I had one time and I love the combination of salty and sweet. The caramel is very dark and the chocolate ends up very rich and decadent! Plus, making caramel consistently is a challenge and keeps me on my toes.
Maralyn: What is your favorite ingredient to work with when cooking and why?
Meg: I can’t imagine cooking or baking without salt. Salt seems to “complete” foods and balances and brings out their flavors. My favorite treats are ones that have a bit more salt that usual… salted caramel ice cream or salted chocolate chip cookies. And, my favorite restaurants are ones where the chef knows the importance of salt—it makes every dish better.
Maralyn: What is your favorite cooking utensil and why?
Meg: I’ve fallen in love with my induction cooktop. It is fast, consistent, cool, portable, and easy to clean. It makes great batches of caramel, but is terrific for sautéing and wok cooking too. Not adding the extra heat of a traditional cooktop makes our production room easier to keep at a steady temperature, which makes a chocolatier’s life so much easier!
Maralyn: Do you have any tips for those desiring to become a chef/chocolatier?
Meg: The most important aspect of being a chocolatier is patience. Learning to work with chocolate (tempering, enrobing, etc.), is difficult and takes a lot of practice. And, there are so many variables in the process that each day is new and different. Chocolate is one of the most difficult ingredients I have worked with… but that is what makes it so fun!
Thanks Meg. You have some great answers. You can learn more about Meg Swoboda of Sweet Marguerites at: http://www.sweetmarguerites.com/
Company Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/South-Portland-ME/Sweet-Marguerites-LLC/87930581178?ref=search
For more about Harvest on the Harbor. I hope to see you there.
Watch for more about the chefs participating in Harvest on the Harbor.