In-Store Demonstrations

Posted on February 15, 2017 by Adriana Nelson | 0 comments

All demos are open to the public and free of charge.

Toque Blanche - Half Moon Bay

Toque Blanche - Santa Cruz

February 18th11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Poco Dolce Tasting 

Poco Dolce Chocolate and Toffee Tasting -- From San Francisco



February 18th 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Mexican Hot Chocolate

We'll have some Spiced Hot Chocolate from Hernan to warm you up.

February 25th11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Kul Chocolate Tasting


We liked this so much we bent our Local Chocolate rule for this Farm to Bar company in Minnesota!



February 25th1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Cake Pop Demonstration

We're making cake pops! Fun to make and easy to switch up different toppings.

March 4th11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Pasta Faggioli

This classic Italian dinner is super easy in the Pressure Cooker! The beans and the past are all cooked together for a warm, comforting dish.

March 4th1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Bean Salad

Warm Herbed Corona Bean Salad with Arugula. These large white beans are a treat all by themselves.

March 11th11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Flageolet Beans in Citrus Vinaigrette

Typically used in Cassoulet, Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo loves Flageolet Beans in a simple vinaigrette, and we couldn’t agree more.

March 11th1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Chickpea Fritters with Harissa Aioli

Garbanzo, Ceci, Chickpea. Whatever you call it, it’s just delicious!

March 18th11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Domingo Rojo Beans

Domingo Rojo in Chamba – A favorite bean cooked in our favorite bean pot.

March 18th1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Cranberry Bean & Bacon Ragout

Cranberry Bean & Bacon Ragout, a warming winter side dish.

March 25th11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Masabacha, think of this as an inverted hummus—whole or lightly smashed chickpeas served in a warm tahini dressing.

March 25th1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Bean Dip

3 Chili Midnight Bean Dip with Corn Chips. It’s party time!


Posted in Upcoming Demos

Feb. Newsletter: Chocolate is not Candy; Chocolate is Food!

Posted on February 15, 2017 by Adriana Nelson | 0 comments

Valentine’s Day, when love is in the air and our hearts and thoughts are filled with chocolate. We carry a delicious variety all year long: whether you are looking for a quick pick-me-up (Chocolate does nice things to your brain!), a gift for a friend or loved one or for baking with, we have you covered in chocolate… so to speak. And no need to feel guilty, this year Chocolate is a Superfood! 

Question of the Month:
How do you pick the chocolate you sell?

Over the years our focus has become a bit more, well, focused. We have always searched out the good and the great and sometimes they find us. We go to the San Francisco Fancy Food Show (which unfortunately has some decidedly UN-fancy foods!) and we have to taste some bad chocolate to find the good stuff. We suffer through that for one reason only, because we love you. Like our selection of olive oils, we also prefer to keep it local, and we are very fortunate in the Bay Area to have some great people doing amazing things with chocolate, such as Kathy Wiley at Poco Dolce and Christine Doerr at Neo Cocoa. Stuart is also an occasional judge at the San Francisco Chocolate Salon. This year we did find some great single varietal chocolate created “farm to bar” by K’ul Chocolate based in Minnesota. And loved the bold statement on their website: CHOCOLATE IS NOT CANDY. CHOCOLATE IS FOOD!

Tip of the Month:
“Bloomed” Chocolate

Some chocolate will get light streaks in it during storage. This is just cocoa butter melting and coming to the surface, then solidifying again. It is perfectly fine to use in recipes, as the melting or tempering of it will make the streaks go away.

Book of the Month
Dorie's Cookies

Sweets for your Sweet! Dorie’s Cookies has been out a short while, but has already made several “Best Of” lists this year! It’s with good reason; Dorie Greenspan is a multi-award winning author and expert baker, but with a writing style that makes it easy even for the beginner.

Dorie Greenspan, Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, 2016 

February Facebook Giveaway:
Swissmar Fondue Set

Staying in the love and chocolate spirit, our monthly giveaway is a Swissmar Chocolate Fondue Set, perfect for just the two of you.

To enter the drawing, go to our Half Moon Bay or Santa Cruz Facebook page and comment on the giveaway post. 

Posted in Articles

Dark Chocolate-Caramel Truffles with Sea Salt Recipe

Posted on February 15, 2017 by Adriana Nelson | 0 comments


20 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, divided
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
2/3 cup whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon flor blanca (Mexican Sea Salt)  
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Additional flor blanca


Put 8 ounces chocolate in metal bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water and stir until chocolate is smooth. Remove chocolate. Combine sugar and 2 tablespoons water in small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves, occasionally brushing sides of pan with wet pastry brush. Increase heat; boil until syrup is deep amber color, brushing down sides and swirling pan occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add cream (mixture will bubble). Stir over very low heat until caramel is smooth. Mix caramel and 1/4 teaspoon flor blanca into melted chocolate. Chill until truffle filling is firm, at least 3 hours.

Place cocoa in bowl. Using 1 Tablespoon truffle filling for each truffle, roll into balls, then roll in cocoa. Arrange on baking sheet. Cover and chill overnight.

Line a 13x9x2-inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Place remaining 12 ounces chocolate in medium metal bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water and stir until chocolate is melted and smooth and thermometer inserted into chocolate registers 115°F. Remove bowl from over water. Working quickly, submerge 1 truffle in melted chocolate. Using fork, lift out truffle and tap fork against side of bowl to allow excess coating to drip off. Transfer truffle to prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining truffles. Sprinkle truffles lightly with additional flor blanca. Let stand until coating sets, at least 1 hour. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

Posted in Recipes

Cooking Classes

Posted on February 15, 2017 by Adriana Nelson | 0 comments

The next Toque Blanche Cooking class will be held Thursday, March 30th, from 6:30 to 8:00 p.min the beautiful courtyard at La Piazza in Half Moon Bay.Cost is $36 ($60 for two). Bring one child under 16 free! Wine pairing is optional and can be purchased separately. Sign up here

Breakfast for Dinner Menu

Toque Blanche cooking classes are prepared by Stuart Cristol-Deman with assistance from Toque Blanche staff. Includes a 4-Course meal cooking demonstration and small servings of each course. Wine pairing is optional and can be purchased separately, here.

Have a Question? Call (800) 936-1055 10am - 6pm PST or email us 24 hours a day

Posted in Classes

January Newsletter: A Healthy New Year!

Posted on January 16, 2017 by Adriana Nelson | 0 comments

A Healthy New Year!

This is the time of year we all strive to eat healthy--a desire that gets renewed each year after our overindulgence during the holidays. Whether it is a food item, like Rancho Gordo beans, great heart healthy olive oils from California or spices to enhance your dishes  or tools to make things easier like the kale and herb Stripper , the Fagor LUX Multicooker to make healthy meals in minutes or the best juicer we have found (which is great for making quick vegetable broths as well!) ; we have the stuff that will make it easier to help you stick to your plan.

Tip of the Month

Kale can get a bad rap, but there is no denying its health benefits. Our favorite variety is the Lacinato variety, sometimes called “Dinosaur Kale.” When juicing kale we recommend adding some lemon into the mix for two reasons: the vitamin C in citrus actually helps your body absorb the iron in the kale better, plus it hides that “green” and slight bitter flavor some people don’t like. When eating kale raw, we like to put a little olive oil and a small pinch of salt on it and then give it a little massage. This helps break down the fibers (you will see a noticeable difference in volume after a few minutes!) which makes the kale less chewy as well as a bit easier to digest.  Oh, and did we mention the kale stripper

Question of the Month:
What can I do if I’m not supposed to use salt?

If you are just trying to cut back, the number one source of high sodium is processed food, so cooking fresh will drastically reduce your intake. When cooking, salt can play an important function even beyond taste. If you season with salt as you cook it will get into the food, will help break down fibers and draw out moisture allowing other flavors to go in. When you cook with salt you actually use LESS than when shaking it on at the table. And the food will taste better. If you are trying to use no salt at all, then we recommend adding a dash of something acidic like vinegar or lemon juice or use an ancient salt substitute, sumac. Sumac is the dried berry of the sumac tree (no, the berry is not poisonous!) and has been used for centuries in place of salt on food because salt was very expensive. (Roman soldiers were paid in bags of salt, giving us the word “salary.”) Sumac actually hits the same receptors on the tongue as salt and its slightly tart flavor helps heighten the taste of food.

Entre Nous

2016 was a rewarding year for us, to say the least. In the spring our Half Moon Bay location was named “Best Homegoods Store” in the Bay Area in a readers poll and our Santa Cruz store received a similar honor as “Best Kitchenware Store” in The Good Times Santa Cruz. Our Half Moon Bay cooking classes were touted as one of the 5 Best Bay Area Cooking Classes. In February one of our products (the Chamba Comal) was featured in the Front Burner column of the New York Times!

The frosting on the cake was when our company as a whole was named the national “Retailer of the Year” Gourmet Retailer Magazine and concurrently the U.S. entrant in the international Global Innovator Award (gia).

Rather than rest on our laurels, we will strive to be even better and continue to be the best stores we can and keep improving and innovating in 2017. Thank you to all our customers for your support. You are why we do what we do.

Looking Backwards
Here’s a list of some of our top sellers in 2016.
  1. Oxo Spiralizer. The essential “play with your food” tool, we sold more than two a day throughout the year. $14.95 
  2. SCI Nylon Pan Scraper. What can you buy in a fancy kitchenware store for less than a buck? And, yes, they really work. $0.50 
  3. Rabitos Chocolate Stuffed Figs. Pure Decadent Bliss! Decadent brandy fudge stuffed dried figs dipped in chocolate. Imported from Cáceres, Spain. Our customers couldn’t seem to get enough of them. $19.95 (box of 9) 
  4. Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler. Best $5 bucks you can spend. Choose your color or collect the whole set! $4.95 
  5. Dream Farm Tools. Colorful, fun and functional, the tools from this Australian company solve everyday kitchen problems with clever, original designs. Our customers caught onto this right away and we could hardly keep them in stock.  
  6. Chef’n Kale and Herb Stripper. Sales of this took off as the demand for kale exploded. Works great for removing the stems from kale or smaller herbs like rosemary. Invite a stripper to your next party! $7.95 
  7. Chamba Comal. We couldn’t keep up with demand after this versatile piece was featured in a New York Times article. Great for heating tortillas and grilling vegies. $34.95 
  8. Lekue Popcorn Popper. Make healthy popcorn in just a few minutes with this microwave popper. Made in Spain. $19.95 
  9. Norpro Mini Whisk. Just the thing when you’re beating only a couple of eggs. $0.79 
  10. Kuhn-Rikon Paring Knife. A sheath, non-stick surface, inexpensive—great for picnics. $9.95 



January Giveaway

This month’s Facebook giveaway is a Chamba 6 Qt. Soup Pot (SS4), the perfect vessel for healthy soups, beans and whole grains. To enter, just go to one of our Facebook pages for Half Moon Bay or Santa Cruz and follow the instructions for the giveaway post. Tag a friend in your post and if you win, your friend wins one, too!

Posted in Articles

Roasted Green Beans with Cremini Mushrooms Recipe

Posted on January 16, 2017 by Adriana Nelson | 0 comments

From Fast,Fresh and Green by Susie Middleton (Chronicle Books)

Learning technique is the best way to learn how to cook. Susie Middleton does a superb job in Fast, Fresh and Green of teaching 10 different techniques for cooking veggie-centric meals (don’t worry, some of the recipes have meat!) One of our favorite ways to cook veg this time of year is roasting them. It really brings out the deep flavors and transforms them into something completely different from steaming or boiling them. Here is a great example:


10 oz. cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, wiped clean with a damp towel, and either halved or quartered, depending on their size
12 oz. green beans, rinsed and trimmed
1/4 c olive oil
1 t salt

Rosemary-Garlic Oil

1 t olive oil
1 t minced garlic
1 t chopped fresh rosemary
1/8 t crushed red pepper flakes

1. Preheat the oven to 4750. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper.

2. In a large mixing bowl, toss the mushrooms with 2 T olive oil and 1/2 t salt. Spread the mushrooms in one layer on half of the baking sheet.

3. In the same mixing bowl, toss the green beans with 1 T olive oil and 1/2 t salt. Spread the green beans in one layer on the other half of the baking sheet. Roast for 25 minutes, or until the cremini mushrooms are tender, shrunken, and darker brown, and the green beans are wrinkled and browned in spots.

4. Meanwhile, in a small nonstick skillet, heat 1 T and 1 t olive oil with the garlic, rosemary, and red pepper flakes over medium-high heat. Once the oil starts to bubble, turn down to medium-low and cook for a minute to merge the flavors, stirring to make sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Set aside.

5. Transfer the roasted veggies to a serving bowl and toss with the oil.

Serves 4

Posted in Recipes

It’s Knife Month at Toque Blanche

Posted on November 02, 2016 by Adriana Nelson | 1 comment

Whether you need a new knife, some help keeping it sharp or a little brush up on your skills, we got you covered. (We also have covers for your knives!) One of the most important aspects of owning knives is the upkeep.

Question of the Month:
“What is the difference between sharpening and honing?”

As you use your knife you create burrs, a rounding (read “dulling”) of the edge that causes the knife to slip rather than cut.  Honing gets rid of these burrs and is something you can and should do at home on a daily to weekly basis (depending on the knife and usage). You can do this in one of two ways. The most common is by using a steel, (that long, rod looking thing in your knife block). It’s not difficult and our staff is happy to show you how to properly use this tool. (Ignore how you see people use them on TV!) Stuart shows you how in the video below. 

If you feel uncomfortable using a steel, then a pull-through device might be for you. With these devices, the angle is set for you making it much easier for novices and pros alike to maintain a great edge. Which pull-through device you get might depend on what knives you have, but here is one of our favorites that can work for a variety of knife types, the KitchenIQ Angle Adjust.

Sharpening is needed about every six months when the knife has flattened out some and honing doesn’t bring back the edge like it should. Many pull through devices can do this as well, or you can have it done at one of our stores (we are now offering inexpensive, while-you-wait knife sharpening at both stores). After sharpening, wash the knives in warm water and remember to be careful handling them because they are now sharper!

We’ll sharpen your knives for free on Saturday November 19th at our Half Moon Bay store! Click here for details.

Tip of the Month:
Selecting a knife

Selecting a knife is a very personal thing. The feel of the handle in your hand, the weight and rock of the knife as you cut, slice, mince and chop--all of these things can vary from cook to cook. However, if the knife you choose is well-made it will last you a lifetime and make your tasks a pleasure and not a chore. Our staff is here to help you select the right knife for you, but in the meantime here is a list of terms and tips that will help you in the process.

Holding a Knife– The best way to hold a chef knife is to pinch lightly with your thumb and forefinger where the bolster (see definition below) and blade meet, and then wrap your remaining fingers comfortably around the handle.  This gives you the best control because you are at the pivot point of the knife. 

Stamped vs. Forged Blades Stamped blades are punched from a single sheet of steel and a handle is attached; they often lack the balance, sharpness and tensile strength of the forged blade. They are typically less expensive, but may need to be sharpened more frequently than a forged knife. Forged blades go through dozens of steps to create a temper and shape that create a stronger, sharper knife. 

Bolster The bolster is a shaft of metal where the handle and the blade meet found on forged knives. It helps create balance, giving the cook better control in the knife.

Tang The tang is the shaft of metal that runs along the back spine of the knife and adds balance.  The tang should be at the very least three quarters through the handle, but preferably a full tang that goes to the end of the handle.

Metal Most knives today are made from High Carbon Stainless Steel, which combines the superior edge quality and maintenance of carbon steel as well as the stain resistant qualities of stainless steel.

Weight – The heft of a knife is a personal preference.  European knives tend to be thicker and heavier, letting the weight of the knife do the work for you, where Asian knives tend to be thinner and lighter, following the “path of least resistance” and reducing fatigue if you are cutting for longer periods of time.

Hollow Ground – This is a scallop that alternates on either side of the blade creating not only a fine edge, but the hollows help release surface tension, creating the ability to get very thin slices of meat or fish.

Cleaning – Hand wash your knives and towel dry.  Never put them in a sink full of water or in the dishwasher, as this could damage the blade and other items (and fingers).

Storage Keep knives in a block on the counter or in a drawer.  If storing in a drawer, make sure to use an edge guard of some sort; it protects the knife AND your fingers.

On the Surface of Things…

What you cut ON is just as important was what you cut WITH. Glass, marble, granite, porcelain and those cheap white plastic boards are BIG NO-NOS. These will dull your knives

Quality wood boards, or cutting boards from Epicurean Surfaces are what we recommend. 

Knife Specials

Wusthof Knife Sets – we have 2, 3 or 7-piece knife sets to meet your needs, and if those don’t work, spend $300 on open stock knives and get a free 7-Slot block with shears and a steel for free! 

Wusthof Classic Ikon Sale – ALL knives in the Ikon line are on sale! We have found the rounder handles of these knives feel better to people with either larger or smaller hands because of the fullness of the handle.

Shun Kanso 7SantokuKanso means “simplicity”, and that is exactly what this knife exemplifies. AUS10, a high carbon vanadium stainless steel with a rustic look for strength and durability and a simple contoured tagayason wood handle completes the look. Normally $114.95 now $89.95.

Shun Dual Core Kiritsuke The Dual-Core line from Shun uses two hard metals of various strengths, VG10 and VG2, so that the edge wears down at slightly different rates, creating micro-serrations to keep the edge razor sharp. Normally $299.99, now $239.99 

November Giveaway – Wusthof Studio Set

Go to our Half Moon Bay or Santa Cruz Facebook Page and tell us which knife in your kitchen you absolutely can't live without. You’ll be automatically entered for a chance to win this 5-Piece Knife Set (a $199.95 value)! Winner will be chosen at random at the end of the month.



Posted in Articles

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