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Fun With Lore’s Chocolate

I got invited to attend a sampling of a birthday party at Lore’s Chocolates. It’s designed for kids, so I brought Eve along. She loves her some chocolate so I thought she would be a perfect fit.
They have a shop on the ground floor and the “factory” part is downstairs. In this little factory party, kids get to make their own chocolate! There are vats of milk, dark, and white chocolate ready to be dipped, molded, and formed…You get to make some nonpareils. I always thought that the sprinkles were laid on top of the chocolate. Nope! The sprinkles are on the bottom and the chocolate is plopped on top. Who knew? Not this idiot!
Here’s Eve making some chocolate flower lollipops with milk and dark chocolate.
Let’s move on and get our I Love Lucy on! So this is a magical conveyor belt of chocolate… with chocolate on the bottom and chocolate flowing down from the top. You get a little box of different things to cover with chocolate, like marshmallows, animal crackers, and pretzels.
You can’t really tell but there’s chocolate on the bottom now!
After they get covered on top, you can put little designs on them. That’s where the swirls come from! Then they get cooled a bit more and move further down the conveyor belt until they’re ready to pack and eat! And you get to take home everything you make!

Sonata – BYOB

Sonata is an adorable BYOB in Liberties Walk. When I say adorable, I really mean it. Both E and I could not get over how cute the space is. I mean it’s pretty much just clean and simple, but also totally cute. It seems like a fairly subdued place, but the night we were there there was a very large birthday party table so it was a bit noisy from their festivities, but that doesn’t seem standard. And I love the music-related name. Their menu changes seasonally and is very small. In fact, it’s probably changed to the spring menu by now. I like the small menu because I don’t have to waffle between too many choices. We did get some help from our awesome server on some of his recommendations.
Freshly baked complimentary bread. It was warm, delicious, and herby.
We got the crispy pork belly as an appetizer. It is a giant and thick hunk of pork belly with a thick crispy skin with smoked tomato marmalade, compressed apple, and calvados molasses. Holy crap, this thing is just awesome. I mean pork belly in an of itself is awesome, but then you put all this other stuff with it and damn, I just can’t tell you how good this is. And it’s so damn pretty, too!
E got the cod entree. There are three pieces of potato wrapped pacific cod on napa cabbage and hedgehog mushroom in a sweet onion cream. The fish was super fresh and cooked perfectly and E could not get over how much she loved the cabbage.
I was also pretty crazy about my entree, the chicken. It was a pan roasted bacon wrapped chicken with chestnut stuffing, bourbon whipped potato, haricot vert, and glazed cipolini onion. First off, the chicken was beyond tender, having been pounded, but then once wrapped in oodles of butter, it gets even more tender and beyond juicy. I love chicken that melts in your mouth. The potatoes were great, the green beans were just crispy enough, and I love the cute little onions so much that I wished the plate was full of them.
Ok, onto the dish that E loved the most… her dessert! It was basically a trio of chocolate goodness – warm chocolate beignets, chocolate decadence, and a chocolate hazelnut chipwich. Ok, so these beignets, they were warm and had ooey gooey chocolate on the inside. Like seriously. And she pretty much wanted to marry this chocolate decadence.
I got the apple pie for dessert, only these were adorable little mini fried apple pies with vanilla whiskey ice cream and caramel sauce. These were so cute and tasty! The ice cream was pretty intense… I thought to myself “it’s like vanilla, only with extra awesome.” Then I realized that the awesome was whiskey.
And with our check came these homemade chocolates with caramel and  sea salt. Yes, they were as good as the rest of the meal. E and I both loved our meals at Sonata so much that we can’t wait to go back. Not only was the food perfect, the service was excellent. Everything was just spot on. Even the executive chef, Mark Tropea, came out to check in with us after our meal. We felt so honored. We can’t recommend this place enough!

Sonata Restaurant on Urbanspoon

South American Dinner Party

I love going over to M’s house for dinner because she feeds me so incredibly well. And it’s always gourmet! She also usually prepares a special cocktail to go along with the meal. This drink was called the amazonia, and is made with champagne, cachaca, mint, and others. It was delicious and super strong.
We started off with some black bean and banana empanadas. Yes, it sounds like a strange combination but it was really great. She just made these with store bought phyllo dough so they were also super easy to make.
The main entree was a brazilian seafood stew. This also seemed fairly simple to make. To speed up the process, she had actually prepared some of the ingredients in advance. She used shrimp along with fish and had them marinating in one bowl.
The tomatoes, cilantro, and green onions were also prepped in one bowl.The green peppers, onions, garlic, and crushed red pepper were in another. Then everything was cooked together and coconut milk was also added and fresh cilantro was sprinkled on top. This was so good! It was flavorful and fresh and there was no ingredient that didn’t work in the dish. I typically don’t even like coconut milk in my food either, but I still really loved this. This is definitely something any seafood lover would enjoy, and since I witnessed it all, it is super easy and quick to make.
She also made these ridiculous salted caramel truffles and I ate three of them. And because of how rich and luxurious they were, it was about two too many… but beyond amazing!

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