FEAST Hands on Classes – QUIN Candy

QUIN Candy Interview Feast Portland

Delicious little candies. I still remember spending my allowance on all the Rock Candies or Fun Dips or Jolly Ranchers I could hold in both hands–or God forbid I have a baseball game that evening and was out of my Big League Chew Bubblegum or remember that one time Dad had eaten all my Neccos? Or perhaps it was me that ate all his… 😉 Candy was definitely a central to my life as a child–yes of course my parents kept it in moderation, but they seemed to trust me from a young age to learn how to make the decisions of “how much is too much” on my own, and looking back, I am grateful as it’s helped me create a balanced relationship with sweets into my adulthood. I’ve always maintained a love for the occasional gumdrop or lollipop–so I’m obviously very excited to attend Feast this year as Jami of QUIN Candy will be hosting a hands on class (sold out!) to help us harness that favorite candy memory.

If you were one of the lucky ones to get your hands on Jami Curl’s QUIN Candy Class on Saturday, September 16th from 1pm-3pm, you are in for a treat! This hands on class to create a candy from scratch! I had the pleasure of discussing the course with Jami as well as the opportunity to ask her questions about her practice.

First, a little about QUIN – started in 2013 by Jami Curl, QUIN Candy is a company founded on using top notch ingredients. In every sucker, Dreams Come Chew, etc. you’re going to find local fruit (like Oregon berries!), or in the caramels you might find coffee syrup derived from locally roasted coffee beans. They only use pure granulated cane sugar and GMO-free glucose and real dairy (no powdered stuff!). This makes for chocolate mix that melts to the touch, suckers with delectable real berry tartness, and caramels that linger on your palate, tempting you to eat just one more. All QUIN Candy products are made by hand locally and can be found online as well as all over the city–from specialty shops to their own retail store located at Union Way in downtown.

I’ve been enamored with QUIN Candy‘s candies since mid-2014 when I had my first candy of theirs, a scrumptious little bag of caramels, which I found out recently was Jami’s very first featured candy item at QUIN–and here I had assumed she perfected the Dreams Come Chew (think somewhat starburst-y but on steroids) first! I was so excited to talk a little candy with Jami and I found her answers so insightful, I thought it best to share things with you directly from her!

Dreams Come Chew

 

Where did the name company’s name, QUIN, come from?

A QUIN is a type of sprinkle – the little flat pastel rounds that kind of look like tiny necco wafers.
Before I started QUIN I had a bakery for many years and used a lot of those sprinkles. QUIN as a name was a way to connect the two loves of my life at the time.

 

What’s your personal favorite candy QUIN makes?

I love everything equally but have weeks where one thing or another rises to the top. Right now I am eating a ton of our new Christmas caramels – they are caramels that we’ve made to taste like marshmallows. We have three flavors – one plain marshmallow, one chocolate marshmallow, and one coconut marshmallow – the coconut is the one I wish I’d brought home with me at night. 

 

How have you seen the candy industry change since you’ve entered it? 

Thankfully we are not a typical candy manufacturer and are still very much outliers when it comes to the industry.
That said, something that is very noticeable, even from a consumer standpoint, is that manufacturers are looking for ways to turn candy into “snacks”. The snack food segment is the fastest growing segment in food in the US. More and more Americans are turning to snacking throughout the day instead of regular meals. Big candy has caught on and now you see “snackable” marshmallows and other candies that are made without individually wrapped pieces – this is all to encourage us to see candy as a snack (vs. what it really is which is CANDY).

How do you think QUIN has influenced the candy market—either regionally or nationally?

I think we’ve shined a real light on the use of high quality ingredients in non-chocolate candy.
It’s super easy to make candy with crappy/artificial ingredients. But it’s incredibly expensive and difficult to make it on a mass scale using high quality, real food ingredients.

 

What’s something that surprised you since starting QUIN production?

Everything is more difficult and more expensive than you plan. Everything. Every time. It’s hard work made harder by always having to plan for the unexpected – supplier price increases, delivery schedules, customers not paying on time – the REAL business ins/outs of doing this. All surprising, every day. Yet it’s still fun. Most of the time!

 

Your chocolate dust has always hands down been my favorite, and so I understandably always have at least one jar in my house—how do you like to use it at home?

I do mix the dust with a little boiling water to create a chocolate syrup, then I store that syrup in a squeeze bottle in my fridge – then I use that syrup to make chocolate milk each morning. 

How do you prefer to make your cocoa with the chocolate dust?

My milk of choice for hot chocolate is whole milk, and I like 2 tablespoons of dust to 8 ounces of milk that I’ve allowed to reduce a tiny bit on the stove. I like vanilla bean marshmallows on top (when I have them), but am generally just fine having it plain!

 

Are there any candy cardinal sins in your opinion? What is/are they?

There are so many. My entire life in candy is built around unbreakable rules. You have to be that way because candy isn’t a craft with grey area. It’s black and white. It works or it doesn’t. And we know why things work, so we stick to the rules of what makes things work. For home candy making I always tell people to never put warm candy in the refrigerator and to never stir a pot of candy that’s cooking. 

 

What’s on the horizon for QUIN?

We’re looking forward to the holiday season. It’s something we start working on a minimum of six months ahead, so around this time of year I am always thinking WHY CAN’T CHRISTMAS JUST GET HERE. We are our busiest, of course, during the holidays. I’m traveling to Charleston in March for the Charleston Wine + Food festival where I’ll be teaching a class that covers baking and candy making. I’m super excited about that. And QUIN has a book now that I wrote, so I have lots of upcoming travel around that – always exciting. (Get Jami’s book, Candy is Magic via Amazon Here.) But in general this time of year we just come to work every day and do the work – trying to get that Christmas candy ready!

 

I know you’re doing a survey for QUIN class attendees—how are the responses stacking up for how you will shape the class? Are you open to sharing a little about the class direction you’re planning? 

We’re going to make candy at the class, but first we’re going to talk about the IDEA of candy and how to generate creative ideas in general (for more than just candy). I am continually seeing people turn to the internet for “ideas”, and I never do that – so we’re going to basically talk about how to think of new things in old ways – before you could create a pinterest board or read a blog. The surveys are a precursor to that idea development. I’m taking the answers and compiling them all then making a candy inspired by the responses. Then I’ll teach that exact candy at the class.

 

What’s the most interesting application of your candy that you’ve seen to date? (Use in a savory dish, a wedding cake topped with it, etc.)?

I did a pop up at a Japanese restaurant in San Francisco and made toasted rice tea ice cream and topped it with whiskey barrel aged soy sauce caramel – then I crushed our tangerine sparkling candy into “sprinkles” and showered them over the top of the sundaes. I’m not sure if that’s the most interesting use of the candy, but it’s certainly been my favorite of what I’ve seen!

 

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You can follow Jami and her sweet creations on Instagram @QUINcandy.

Are you still hoping to attend FEAST?! There’s still time! You can enter to win tickets via their partnership with Williams Sonoma or purchase tickets to some of the remaining events! Click on the images for more info!

Portland Burger Week 2017 Comes to a Close

Portland Burger Week 2017 comes to a close today, and I do intend to go out with a final delicious burger, however, this is one of the first years I’m kind of ok with things ending–I think it has everything to do with the impressive change in the weather yesterday evening into today.

The rain returned.

You might think it odd that I’m dedicating the open of an entire post to the rain returning, but it had been nearly 60 days since we’d seen a drop. 2 MONTHS. And in that time temperatures in Portland spiked near record highs, fires (both locally and in other parts of the world) impacted our air quality and visibility, and the will to cook was temporarily lost. I became resigned to only turning on the stove early in the morning or after 10pm, and we grilled everything we could to keep the heat out of the house. Then last night around 9pm, it rained drizzled, really. We were sitting outside enjoying a fire with friends and it was so surprising and welcomed that we all stopped talking for a few moments and tipped our heads upwards to feel the droplets hit our skin. And now I can nearly taste fall. I’m thinking about canning some heirlooms for September soups and sauces–freezing peaches so that in November I can pull them out and eat them for a week with nothing more than a spoon…I just need to keep telling myself, it’s August. It’s August. It’s. AUGUST.

Burger Week!!! Here’s a complete list of the burgers we consumed this week–

DOUBLE BARREL 

*Descriptions from The Portland Mercury’s Burger Week Site*

Curd Is the Word!
Here’s a burger the Trashmen would approve of: Double Barrel Tavern’s Curd Is the Word! boasts the undeniable pairing of ground beef and squeaky, chewy cheese curds. More specifically, it’s Painted Hills beef, so you know exactly where it came from, and the cheese curds are accompanied by gravy and crisped potatoes in what I can only imagine is a wise homage to Canadian superfood poutine. (There’s also butter lettuce, because they had to get a veggie in there somewhere, right?) It’s enough to make you manically repeat the phrase “The curd is the word!” Or you would, if your mouth weren’t full of delicious dairy and protein.

First stop @doublebarreltavernpdx Curd Is the Word! Painted Hills beef, butter lettuce, cheese curds, gravy and crisped potatoes #portlandburgerweek # #inpdx #pdxnow #pdxeats #burgerweek

 

HOME, A BAR

*Descriptions from The Portland Mercury’s Burger Week Site*

The Dirty Picnic
The best part of a picnic is that last bite, when all the flavors come together, like a family reunion without fighting and disappointment (if those exist). Home, A Bar captures the fleeting feeling of that last bite with the Dirty Picnic, featuring beans, chips, coleslaw, meat, bacon, cheese, hot dogs, and a bun. This is a feat of burger engineering: using the space between a bun as a vehicle for an entirely separate culinary experience! But that’s the Dirty Picnic’s deal—it just loves bringing people together. Come Home and get yours.

The search is over. My #portlandburgerweek just may have hit its crest–meet the Dirty Picnic from @homebarpdx — beans, chips, cole slaw, meat, cheese, and hotdogs on a bun. Bravo @dieselboi and co. ❤️

 

BOISE FRY CO.

*Descriptions from The Portland Mercury’s Burger Week Site*

The Real American Hero Burger

The United States is in peril, so we need Boise Fry Company’s Real American Hero Burger more than ever before. It’s an all-natural, seasoned chuck patty topped with delicious charred onion aioli, thick-cut bacon, house-made dill pickles, and American cheese on a sesame seed bun. USA! USA! While you’re there, you should probably order a side of fries, too: There are six BFC locations, and the other five are in Idaho, so they really know how to serve a potato.

A solid choice for a classic take on a burger–enjoyed an all-natural, seasoned chuck patty topped with delicious charred onion aioli, thick-cut bacon, house-made dill pickles, and American cheese on a sesame seed bun. USA! USA! Also so many sauce options! #portlandburgerweek #inpdx #pdxnow #latergram #burger #summer

 

ICONIC

*Descriptions from The Portland Mercury’s Burger Week Site*

Southern Chowdown

We have no beef with Iconic’s Southern cookout-inspired burger, made with ground pork and bacon. This piggy patty is coated in dry rub and grilled with barbecue sauce for extra goodness, just like they do in the southland—calories be damned.That hyper-juicy meat is set atop a chewy cornbread bun that’s been bedecked with a delicious housemade Southern chow-chow chutney, and then covered in a cabbage slaw. Wash it down with an iconic bourbon-based drink and you’re set for a real hootenanny.

@iconicpdx Southern Chowdown | pork and bacon. This piggy patty is coated in dry rub and grilled with barbecue sauce for extra goodness, just like they do in the southland—calories be damned.That hyper-juicy meat is set atop a chewy cornbread bun that’s been bedecked with a delicious housemade Southern chow-chow chutney, and then covered in a cabbage slaw #portlandburgerweek #portlandnw #inpdx #pdxnow #latergram

 

ELEPHANTS DELICATESSEN

*Descriptions from The Portland Mercury’s Burger Week Site*
The Pig Kahuna
Keeping in tradition with their previous Burger Week offerings the Pig Lebowski and the Pig Mac, Elephant’s Pig Kahuna burger is constructed around a pork-based patty that sets it apart from more traditional beef offerings. Utilizing a staff favorite “hamloaf” recipe for the base, Elephant’s then coats the meat with a pineapple-bourbon sauce that brings things to just the right level of sweetness, before balancing it out with a little spice in the form of roasted jalapeños and pepperjack. Add a layer of shredded lettuce to provide a bit of crunch that doubles as a cooling note, then stack it all up on a homemade sesame seed bun, and you’ve got a scrumptious Burger Week offering.

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So all in, about 5 burgers each–not bad! The only thing that’s sad is that Burger week goes Monday through Saturday–So if you were thinking about heading out today to have your favorite ONE LAST TIME, you are too late.

Did you partake in Portland Burger Week this year? How’d you think it went? Who had your favorite? Hit me up on social and let’s talk burgers! 

 

As always, if you’d like to follow my travels in real time, remember to follow me on Instagram at @TheSpicyBee — have a wonderful week!

Ham & Brie Melt with Peppercress Micro Greens from Gilded Greens

Ham and Brie Melt Featuring Gilded Greens' Pepper Cress Micro Greens | The Spicy Bee

After our heatwave broke here in Portland (multiple days over 100°F in June!?), I found myself craving hot, delicious, melty sandwiches. I had also just come into some fun peppercress micro greens from Gilded Greens, located here in PDX, so I put my thinking cap on and came up with a sandwich, which rivals all other sandwiches in my arsenal: The Ham and Brie Melt with pickled shallots, honey dijon (Toby’s Honey Dijon Dressing), mayo, and peppercress. I enjoyed this delightful melt with some wavy BBQ chips (because, summer), and our newest beer on the keg, Occidental’s Alt.

Before I get into this too much, I should explain how I approach building a proper melt because perhaps this is your first time attempting one at home. Start with a beautiful loaf of bread; I, myself, fell hard for Pearl Bakery’s Paesano loaf from the Wednesday Park Blocks Farmer’s Market–it’s like fluffy white bread center meets the thinnest, golden crust. It’s perfection for melt-making in my opinion. Slice off up to 1 inch thick slabs, spread one side (this will eventually become the inside of your melt) with mayonnaise, and toss onto a hot (HOT) cast iron skillet until nicely browned. This is a trick to aid in the melting of the brie as well as creating a crunch to the inside of the sandwich. The mayonnaise can be subbed out for butter instead if you prefer. This method should be done with both pieces of bread, though that said, you can also make a melt open faced–so how much bread you use is really up to you.

What I loved about these pepper cress is their spice! They add the perfect amount of crunch and their assertive flavoring means that a little goes a long way! They are packed with vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium as well. You can get your hands on Gilded Greens‘ many micro greens options by contacting them via the Gilded Greens Facebook Page.

Ham & Brie Melt with Pickled Shallots, Honey Dijon, Mayo & Peppercress Micro Greens from Gilded Greens

Ham and Brie Melt Featuring Gilded Greens' Pepper Cress Micro Greens | The Spicy Bee

Ingredients

  • 4 Slices of hearty, Italian bread
  • 2-3 T mayonnaise
  • 2 T Toby’s Honey Dijon Dressing (or other honey mustard)
  • 6 oz Applewood smoked ham
  • 8 oz Double cream Brie
  • 1/4 c Red wine vinegar
  • 1 Large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 oz Gilded Greens peppercress

Method

Ham and Brie Melt Featuring Gilded Greens' Pepper Cress Micro Greens | The Spicy Bee

In a small bowl, combine the shallot and red wine vinegar to give them a light pickle; set to side. Apply mayo to one side of each slice of bread and place in a hot cast iron until browned–this will become the inside of your melt. *Assemble one sandwich at a time–showing toasted sides up, place nice fat slices of brie straight to the hot, toasty side and top with greens. For the other slice, slather on the honey mustard and top with ham. Remove shallots from vinegar bath and apply them to the sandwich. Vinegar can be disposed of or reused to dress a salad.

Put sandwich together, apply more mayo, and place back in pan to toast. Apply mayo to the final side and flip! Brown to your preferred level of darkness. Repeat instructions from *asterisk* above for second sandwich.

Slice and serve immediately! This recipe makes 2 sandwiches.