Thank you so much to Caron Golden for spending time with me, and for such a beautiful write-up!
Getting the Dirt on Truffle Making from Andrea Davis
By Caron Golden, San Diego Food Stuff
Wed, August 7, 2013
Andrea Davis of Andrea’s Truffles is your typical overnight success — in that while the San Diego food obsessed are now suddenly raving about her deeply rich chocolate truffles with the crazy flavor profiles, the San Diego native actually spent many years working in kitchens like The Prado, The Dakota, Pacifica Del Mar, and La Valencia. She started making truffles in 2003, and thanks to mentors and customers like Chef Hanis Cavin, Specialty Produce, and Catalina Offshore Products, now finds herself in wild demand.
Overnight success indeed.
Davis trained at the California Culinary Academy in the Bay Area and then returned home to San Diego, where she started her professional cooking life with The Cohn Restaurant Group. She worked on the savory side of the kitchen until she landed at Pacifica Del Mar. She initially was a line cook, working pantry and sauté, but when a pastry chef left, she took that on to learn those skills. She then went on to La Valencia to focus on pantry and pastry and get more knowledge before moving to Brockton Villa and its sister restaurant Beaumont’s.
But Davis tired of restaurant life and escaped to Trader Joe’s, all the while playing around with truffle making. She brought a batch to her yoga class, and was asked to make truffles for each shakra. It was a chance meeting with Cavin a couple of years ago that got her to consider starting her own business, making truffles for Carnitas’ Snack Shack. And the Pannikin. She made truffles for Chad White’s initial pop up dinners.
Trader Joe’s is now just a place where she shops. Davis’s Andrea’s Truffles has become a full-time occupation. She makes 500 to 800 truffles a week, calling Flor Franco’s Indulge Contemporary Catering kitchen in Chula Vista home base. Now you can find her truffles at The Patio, Ripe, Specialty Produce, Mission Brewery, and, on occasion, Catalina Offshore Products.
I spent several hours with Davis this week, learning all sorts of great truffle-making tips. The first thing you’ll notice about Davis’s truffles is that, well, they’re not traditionally truffle shaped–as in round and dusted with cocoa powder to imitate truffles rooted out from the dank ground. Davis admits she was watching Alton Brown on TV making truffles and when saw him pour the ganache into a tray, then slice them up into squares like brownies she had an aha moment. “For years I’d been scooping them into balls, but this was much better. Much less labor intensive,” she says.
Davis works on several batches in different stages at a time — making the thick ganache that’s the base of the truffle, tempering chocolate chunks for dipping other batches that have set overnight in the walk-in, prepping ingredients like her homemade raspberry jam that will go into a truffle variety she makes for The Patio, and reducing beers and red wines for still other varieties.
While I was there she was focused on three projects: a batch of Raspberry Jam truffles for The Patio, batches of Bacon Whiskey and Ballast Point Sculpin Caramel truffles for Carnitas Snack Shack, and a batch of Spicy Cinnamon with Tequila truffles for the Specialty Produce farmers market bag. There was a double boiler holding chips and cocoa powder to melt and begin a ganache for the Raspberry Jams and another holding chunks of 72 percent chocolate that would be used for dipping the Bacon Whiskey and Spicy Cinnamon with Tequila. On still another burner, Davis was reducing the Sculpin to intensify the flavor.