Goodbye Wall

(green wall, durham, gentrification continues apace)
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The End of the Green Wall

The Green Wall has felt like it has been part of Durham forever. Forever only stretches back to 2005 when Greenfire purchased the burnt-out remains of 120/122 W Main Street and painted it green in an act of hubris that come to haunt them in 2008, but still, ten years is plenty in a city that has transformed radically in that time.

It’s been home to many things, as detailed in the tweet above, but it was also just a lovely quiet space in the middle of the city where you could find a patch of grass, walk, have a pleasant lunch in the sunshine, or just have a sit-down. Something that I feel every city needs.

To be fair, the wall was rotting, the buildings it enclosed had been burnt out since 2001 and the whole thing could have collapsed in the face of a gale force wind. I’m not the hugest fan of the plans to build a massive 26-storey office/retail/condo block on the parkland and two storefronts deep into the block, but maybe it won’t be as bad as it sounds.

Not everything can be saved. We had ten years of the Green Wall which probably would have been three or four if not for the Great Crash of 2008. Let’s be sad about the event, but be thankful for the memories we made.

Dustbin_Lorry

(ruby, method caches, all hail rubyvm.stat())
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Quick release this week: dustbin_lorry - a small piece of Rack middleware that will dump changes in the method/constant caches after a request to the current logger (rack.logger or Rails.logger if you’re running it under Rails). Hopefully, it will be of some use when debugging MRI performance issues (needs Ruby 2.1 or above to work).

Please Stand By

(normal service will be resumed..., ...whenever)
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I spent most of the week inside with a bad foot, so:

This Week In Chocolate — White

(grind, grind, grind, local, hand-crafted, artisan)
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Ingredients

Grinding (repeat this picture for 10 hours)

Setting

Tempering

Poured into mold)

Unmolded

Tempered, with a firm snap!

This weekend, then: ten hours of running the grinder, and my first batch of white chocolate. You’d be surprised about how hard it was to find whole milk powder in Durham instead of non-fat (and non-goat, though I’ve got some goat powder for later). It is not the best white chocolate I’ve ever had, I’ll admit, but it’s pretty good nonetheless, and now that I’ve done white, dark and milk will follow as soon as I source the beans…

This Year In Chocolate

(grind, grind, grind, local, hand-crafted, artisan,, and i can probably pickle it too)
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Wet grinder

If you’ve ever heard me talk about making chocolates before, I’m normally at pains to point out that I don’t make the chocolate myself; I merely melt, temper, and refashion chocolate into other forms, whether it’s molded bonbons, truffles, or bars.

And there’s nothing wrong with that - the vast majority of chocolatiers operate in this fashion, buying chocolate from companies like Valrhona or Callebaut. But I won’t deny that I’ve always wanted to go a step further and make my own chocolate at some point.

Above is a wet grinder. It’s the last big piece of equipment for the chocolate room. It has large granite rollers which are used to grind down all sorts of things into pastes; grains, nuts, and cocoa beans. Using it, I can grind roasted beans, add cocoa butter and sugar, and 48 hours of grinding later, I will have made chocolate.

So that’s the plan for 2015: full bean-to-bar chocolate production. I’m going to be working up to that process rather than simply grinding beans from the off; firstly, I’m going to make white chocolate (and perhaps a goat’s milk variant, just for fun), then I’ll purchase 100% chocolate liquour to have a go and at and milk chocolate. Finally, I’ll get hold of some cocoa beans and grind them instead of using the pre-ground liquour.

2015, then: beans go in…chocolate comes out. Fully-artisan, all the time!

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