This August I attended the Los Angeles Epicurean Fest and was thrilled with a number of different vendors serving up their artisan delights from Gin to Truffles. In the closing of my story on the event I wrote, “And then there was Yvan Valentin of Sweet Temptations Artisan Bakery serving up the most decadently rich white, milk and dark chocolate truffles. Shoot. Me. Now.”
I was able to contact Yvan Valentin and ask him everything I wanted to know about why his rich truffles tasted better and lacked that “waxiness” I had found from others:
- Hello Yvan, please start off by telling our readers how you create your truffles and what flavors you have.
YV: For each recipe I look for the best ingredients so that they blend together. Twenty years ago I won best truffle of the year and that taught me that you can always do better than best. You challenge yourself to win and make the best – and that’s exactly what I do.
My cappuccino truffle is made with both dark and milk chocolate, and cappuccino. The Praline flavor has caramelized toasted hazelnut paste blended with ganache and milk chocolate. I use a little bit of Grand Marnier in the dark chocolate and Cointreau orange liqueur in the white chocolate so the taste is wonderful.
- You also offer true French-style croissants. Please tell readers where they might find them and, how they are made.
YV: I have an entire line of breakfast items that are served in many hotels, airlines, restaurants and by catering companies. How we do it is like this: One person makes the dough in day, then 12 people do the night rolling, then the bread goes through a proofer (A proofer is a room that is kept warm, where we put the bread so yeast get action and rises – which takes many hours) and finally, baking.
- I looked at the cakes on your website – much to grand to bring to the Epicurean Fest! I also noticed that you’ve had a few famous clients. I have to know, one very large design, that I first thought was a Chocolate Mission on your site, isn’t. Tell us about that cake Yvan.
YV: That cake was a special order for President Clinton’s second election in 2000. It was set at train station – Union Square – in downtown in Los Angeles. I spent a lot of time on that cake. It had a sugar-made station and used quite a bit of chocolate. (See photo – it’s a must!)
- Where can we find your products in the Los Angeles area?
YV: Your readers can email me to order, Info@YvanValentin.com, with the subject line reading, “chocolate”, or find my products in Los Angeles area wine stores and specialty stores. If you are staying in one of the nice hotels in Los Angeles…check your pillow at night, you might find my truffle there waiting.
- We were wowed by your chocolate, and we’ve had plenty of chocolate. So, why? What makes you different?
YV: Of course when you want to make a good product you must begin by using top quality ingredients. That means top chocolate. You must have the chocolate, chocolate liqueur and cocoa butter. Too much sugar – too much anything – can equal a crunchy product instead of a smooth one. Chocolate prices range between $2 to $12 a pound just for the raw ingredients. Cocoa butter is also very expensive. And you must have both chocolate liqueur and coca butter for a better taste, and, better result – then the savoir faire.
My goal is to make my own chocolate soon. To make the best chocolate in the world you must use the best cocoa beans from trees grown in Central America. To be able to produce the chocolate here we need to get the beans from the farmer and roast them just like coffee beans.
We are lucky here in California as we are close to the best beans from Central America.
From the website
Our goal is to achieve your complete satisfaction. Our highly experienced pastry chief and chocolatiers make sure all recipes are made following the exact procedure so we can provide you with the highest quality truffles. We do not use any preservatives or artificial flavorings. All truffles are made with fresh products, and we mix our own selection of chocolates to provide you with the best quality.
Originally from Roanne, France, Patissier/Chocolatier Yvan Valentin worked in the famous Troisgros Restaurant before traveling to Los Angeles in 1984 to serve as pastry chef at the city’s most acclaimed French restaurant, l’Orangerie. After eight years at l’Orangerie, he opened Sweet Temptations, a wholesale bakery and chocolatery. With a reputation for excellence in both quality and service, Sweet Temptations supplies the finest French pastries and artisan chocolates throughout Southern California.
Yvan Valentin chocolate products are widely distributed in the hotel industry as well as catering companies and specialty food stores. His truffles won many awards and are distributed worldwide.
Yvan Valentin was awarded “Pastry Chef of the Year” in 1995 and 2002.
Central Coast restaurant moves to the forefront with recent accolade
San Luis Obispo, CA – Wine Enthusiast magazine (winemag.com) announced Foremost Wine Co. of San Luis Obispo (foremostwineco.com) among the top 100 wine restaurants in America for 2015. The annual “100 Best Wine Restaurants” issue hit stands July 7.
“Our wine list includes everything from international to hyper-local bottles, but the common thread is that they’re all hand-made, a little geeky, and close to their roots, just like Chef Julie Simon’s cuisine,” said Owner, Rob Murray. Murray and the Foremost team worked together to curate the globe-trotting wine list, which includes Murray’s wine brands Tooth & Nail, Amor Fati, Stasis and Force of Nature.
Wine Enthusiast informs thousands of wine lovers and gourmands how to travel and dine across the country. According to their website, the 100 Best Wine Restaurants list “caters to those looking to drink up while dining out. The focus is firmly on wine (although delicious, creative cuisine is kind of a prerequisite), and our editors scoured the nation for unique wine programs.”
Foremost Wine Co.’s commitment to hand-made wine and cuisine is possible via the support of local farms from which they source their produce, as well as Rabble Wine Co., which encompasses Murray’s four brands showcasing vineyards across Paso Robles and Santa Barbara County.
For more on Wine Enthusiast’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants of 2015, please visit winemag.com.
ABOUT FOREMOST WINE CO.
Supported by local farms and 1,000 acres of vineyards across Paso Robles and Santa Barbara County, Foremost Wine Co. is a restaurant and lounge that redefines farm-to-fork dining. At its helm is epicurean savant, Chef Julie Simon, whose uncanny ability to assemble vibrant, playful dishes has brought her to the forefront of the restaurant scene on both a regional and national scale. With produce sourced from local purveyors, Simon’s menu pairs seamlessly with an ambitious international wine list that placed Foremost on Wine Enthusiast magazine’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants list of 2015. For more information, please visit foremostwineco.com. Foremost Wine Co. is located in The Creamery at 570 Higuera Street in San Luis Obispo, CA 93401. For reservations, please call 805.439.3410 or email email@example.com.
I’m almost afraid to be asked what I liked best at the LA Epicurean Fest. It’s like being asked to suggest a wine without knowing the drinker’s palate. How would I know which of the following you would dig as much as I did:
My Vienna coffee in chocolate cups and Cantaloupe sorbet, High Roller’s brand of sweet-sweet potato vodka, dark or milk chocolate truffles, several types of crab meat, Fortaleza reposado, everything Crater Lake Bendistillery in Bend Oregon makes from gin to Hazelnut Espresso Vodka, VIP’s real Bavarian pretzels, my friend Mark Newman’s flavorful Crocktails, a little contraband foie gras, Amalie Rover wines, Jim Kimmel’s wines from Mendocino, La Colombe Pure Black Coffee, smooth liver pate, every winery that the Family Wine Partners is now representing, Sir Kensington’s gourmet scooping ketchup, Living Tree’s Hazelnut Cloud, the lineup from H. Mercer’s imports, Buena Vistas’ “The Count” red blend, Grace & I’s dried fruit bars served on their own cutting boards, Jericho’s cilantro or plain hummus, Art Moskowitz’s Lavender or Rosemary Vinaigrette, Angel Salumi & Truffles LLC Duck salami, Vina Sutil’s Chilean wines, Tequila Dos Artes in a ceramic container or with a glass blown cactus inside?
It seemed to me that a restaurant owner would be the only other person having a harder time narrowing down his favorites as he may want to try them out in a menu. Glad not to have that job I’ll just give you a few more words on a few of my favorites (Or you can scroll down to the bottom of this post to see the website links alone):
I haven’t visited Buena Vista wines in years, but at the fest I got to try “The Count” Sonoma red blend and was pleasantly surprised. Buy it!
My wine friend, and educator, Mark Newman has helped create the new “Crocktails” brand of RTD (Ready To Drink) pouches. I tried the icy-cool Pomegranate Margarita…only to wish that the other five in the line up were ready to sample. Another one to TRY and BUY!
Tequila Dos Artes 100% Agave tequilas were pretty cool. Several had a colorful blown glass cactus inside the bottle, and my favorite, the Amore Mio, came in a handmade painted porcelain bottle. Find it.
The flavors coming out of Crater Lake Vodka and Gin from Bendistillery were remarkable. Tasting the 80 proof vodkas, one distilled 10 times and the reserve at 100 times, you could really taste the difference, yet appreciate both. The gin, with only the juniper showing, was clean. And my favorite was the Hazelnut Espresso Vodka. Only 50 proof it worked great over ice and I would bet would be outstanding in a cocktail. (Note: I asked to taste all straight, no cocktails.)
H. Mercer wine and spirits imports had a nice selection of white and red imports. I started my day with Mark Huddleston and sent my first tweet about my breakfast simply being his 2011 Picpoul De Pinet from Domaine Julie Benau in Languedoc, France…then I had a Sancerre…a great way to start my tasting.
I guess your first taste should be something grand…well Sir Kensington’s Gourmet Scooping Ketchup was just that. Rich flavors in the classic and my husband Eddie enjoyed the spiced version. This is the kind of ketchup I’d much rather see in a nice restaurant, or any restaurant, over the standard brands.
Another tequila brand I tried that I hadn’t had before came from the “oldest” tequila maker, “five generations of tradition”, and boasted 100% stone milled blue agave. I liked all three served: Blanco, Reposado and Anejo, but my palate preferred the last two as I like a little oakiness in my tequila.
Tasting the High Roller sweet potato vodka was a new one for me too. I loved the hint of the sweetest of potatoes! I look forward to finding this one in a bar and liquor store…and soon because the rep gave me a card with lots of cocktail recipes to try.
Living Tree Community Foods made many spreads that a dairy-free girl like me could love. My favorite that day was the organic Hazelnut Cloud and Chia Seed Oil. Tasted like a dark chocolate Nutella, with a lot more substance. Gotta find that.
Another great find was the Family Wine Partners table serving Caliza, Hearthstone, Alta Colina…among a few other tasty brands. Look for more from Bill Brandel’s company – soon to be serving up a tasty selection at The Stonehaus inside the Westlake Village Inn due to open up late this September.
I steered clear of My Vienna Gelato and Coffee table as I didn’t think there would be much for me to try there. But when Ed pulled me over, to sample the coffee served in a dark-chocolate lined cone, I just couldn’t leave. Then…they served me up the freshest cantaloupe sorbet I’ve ever had as a chaser. I would never pass them up again.
LaRRoque wine imports had some nice $5 Chilean wines from Vina Sutil. It was the first Carmenere I had found that day and for $5 I thought you couldn’t go wrong.
Cilantro hummus, plain hummus or mustard? I took all three from Jericho Mediterranean Foods and happily dipped into each with a soft and salty Bavarian pretzel from VIP Pretzels. A great midday break.
Duck salami anyone? Yep, I had this right after my hummus courtesy of Angle Salumi and Truffles, LLC. Incredible.
Jim, not Jimmy, Kimmel had a nice line-up of wines from Kimmel Vineyards from Mendocino that I enjoyed sampling. I remember a crisp Chardonnay followed by a more oaky variety – and I liked both.
Art Moskowitz, of Chef Arts Healthy Eats, serves up an incredible vinaigrette. I had a tough time choosing between two new favorites: Rose Petal-Pomegranate or Lavender.
Picture dark black coffee…in Europe it works, here, for me, not so much. I was thrilled to discover Nicolas Capes with La Colombe Torrefaction coffee roasters, serving his “Pure Black” coffee. Over ice, alone, no sugar needed in a cocktail, I found it just as good as an Espresso in Paris…perfectly robust and lingering. And it is steeped for 16 hours in stainless steel wine tanks!
Amalie Robert Estate in Oregon produces, you guessed it, a very nice Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley. (Pronounced Will-am-et…rhymes with Janet.) I enjoyed an 06 and 07.
Dried fruit combinations, sandwiched in a colorful mini loaf-looking rectangle, attached to its own mini cutting board, stole my heart. The combination of presentation and taste always gets me and the “Grace and I” company did just that with their “extraordinary handcrafted artisan products.”
And then there was Yvan Valentin of Sweet Temptations Artisan Bakery serving up the most decadently rich white, milk and dark chocolate truffles. Shoot. Me. Now.
Our Esteemed Speakers
Anthony Diaz-Blue, Food & Wine Critic
Vinturi, the Essential Wine Aerator, creates better bouquet, improved flavor, mouth feel, and smoother finish. Mr. Diaz-Blue will explain how to use this nifty device and which wines you want to areate.
Phyllis-Ann Marshall, The Experience of Branding
Leading expert on growth strategies for independent restaurants and chains. Together with Gina Mims of Inspiro Brands they will tackle how to best position your brand.
Marc Huddleston, Le Nez du Vin
Le Nez du Vin/Make Scents of Wine is simply the world’s ultimate wine education tool, it helps develop the sense of smell and creates a common language to describe, understand and better enjoy wine.
North American Sommelier Association, Accredited Wine Education
Nina Sventitsky will talk about the Certified Sommelier course and take attendees through a “minicourse.”
List of exhibitors for the 2012 Festival
La Colombe Torrefaction
Farm Fresh To You
Santa Monica Seafood
Viola Imports, Inc.
Kendall Farms Creme Fraiche
Gourmet Balsamic Blends
Farm Fresh To You
Fancifull Gift Baskets
Principe Foods USA – Italian Prosciutto di San Daniele
Blue Star Foods – America’s Favorite Crab Meat
Ecospring – Shellfish Specialist
Azukar Organics – Organic Coconut Products
Cucina della Cucina – Locally Produced Fresh Raviolis and Pastas
Azukar Organics – Organic Coconut Products
Emil’s Swiss Pastry – Cakes, Pastries, Tarts and Breakfast Pastries
Maple Leaf Farms – Duck Products
Melissa’s Produce Company – Specialty and Organic Produce, Dairy, Grains & More
Sadie Rose Baking Co. – Preservative Free Artisan Breads
Sweet Temptations – Breakfast Pastries, Hand-Crafted Gourmet Desserts, Petits Fours
Tahitian Gold Company – Specialty Vanilla Products
West Central Produce – Specialty Produce, Cheeses and Diary Products
White Toque – Importer of Specialty Products from Europe
WINE & SPIRITS
A&T Importing – Tequila Dos Artes
Amalie Robert Estate
Ribevi Wines International
Bejot Vins & Terroirs
Arger-Martucci – Wine California Napa
Bache Gabrielsen – Cognac from France
Canihan Family Cellars – Wine California Sonoma
Canzona Vineyards – Wine California Sonoma
Cuvelier Los Andes – Wine Argentina Mendoza
Frontaura Y Victoria – Fine Spanish Wines
Green River Sake – Premium Sake Wine from Japan
Bernard Magrez – Pape Clément
Italia Wine Trader – Wine Italy
Joy Selection – Bas Armagnac, VDP de Gascogne from France
La Passion des Terroirs – Wine France Bordeaux
Maison Jean-Baptiste Béjot – Moillard – Wines France-Burgundy & Cotes du Rhone
Ambhar Tequila – Santo Spirit Inc
Terra Andina – Premium Wines from Chili
Private Collecion Baltazar Ress – German
Bourgeois Selection – France
Casa Marguery – Argentina
French Wine Company – South West – France
Lapalu Wine Partner – Bordeaux – France
Le Cengle Rosé – Chateau de la Galiniere – Provence – France
Malibu Vineyard – California
Raymond Vineyard – Napa – California
Vignoble Arbeau – Corbiere – France
Hollywood & Wine – Wine California
Hillside Wines & Spirits – New Items & Mixology
Southern Wine Group
W.J. Deutsch & Sons, Ltd.
Some of my photos are below, you can find more on my Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eve.bushman