By Rich Eldred
There’s a lot more than just a lotta chocolatta in chef Paul Olaf Lively’s terrific truffles.
The chocolatier hand rolls 75 different original truffles with ingredients as diverse as blue cheese, sugar cane, wild blueberries, jalepeno pepper, sun-dried apples, Sumatra coffee, toasted pumpkin seeds, real live mushroom truffles and, naturally, chocolate.
It’s a dizzying array of gourmet dessert treats that he sells at Chocolate Peddler at 2628 Main St. next to True Value Hardware along with (amazingly good) soups, biscotti and sundries.
“When I get into a creative mode, I can mix anything with chocolate. I can take my culinary skills, mixed with the pastry stuff to create phenomenal chocolates,” he said proudly. “They’re all created here, it’s about a three-day process where I infuse chocolate for two days, make a mix and hand scoop and roll. I push them so far they’re off the wall.”
You can buy a Georgia-Ray (for Ray Charles), white chocolate infused with white peach, blood orange and raspberry, or the King Kong BBQ comprising grilled red banana, bittersweet chocolate ganache, fresh nutmeg, sugar cane barbecue sauce and mango.
“I make them because I can and nobody else does,” Lively reflected. “The B.B. King has blueberry (for BB), dark chocolate around luscious Lucille (his guitar) caramel and it’s sweet because he plays some sweet riffs. The King of Pop contains orange Grand Marnier, Fuji apples, smoked Gouda cheese dipped in white chocolate and wrapped in silver foil because those were some of Michael Jackson’s favorite things.”
The Neo contains actual truffles. “A chocolate truffle reproduces the look of a mushroom truffle,” Lively pointed out.
Ingredients come from local organic farms such as Ron Becker’s in Brewster and his landlord, Stephan Brown, is next door in his herb shop. “I said, ‘Would you like to sell my product in your store?’ And he said, ‘no, because I’d like you to open your own store.’ Part of my creativity is because I’m in a place that has almost become my home. And being on an organic farm inspires me,” Lively observed.
Lively came to Brewster from Wareham, where he’d started making and selling his chocolates after leaving New York City, where he had established himself as a pastry chef.
Lively was born in Rockland County, N.Y., and started out as a pastry chef in Manhattan at the Russian Tea Room next to Carnegie Hall before being lured into the world of fine chocolates.
“I got into pastry because I wanted to have a bed and breakfast when I was in my 20s,” he recalled. “My job from December ’91 to Jan. 15, was to make truffles, 25,000 in a month.”
That might have put someone off chocolate forever but it had the opposite effect on Lively.
“I worked a 40-hour week and then stayed afterward to learn chocolate; how to mold chocolate, do sugar,” he recalled.
He worked as a pastry chef at the 21 Club with chef Andre Bonhomme [in New York City] and soon succeeded him as the head pastryman. “Andre taught me the essence of French pastry and myself, and he and Michael Lomonaco came up with the recipes in the 21 Cookbook,” Lively said. “At the Tea Salon is where I got into infusions. Everything was infused with tea.”
Infusion is one of the secrets of Lively’s truffles. “The infusion process is like steeping a cup of tea. The ingredients are steeped into the chocolate so the natural flavors are extended into the chocolate and flavor becomes concentrated and intensified,” he explained. “I’m very particular on how things taste. If you’re infusing shrimp with coconut, you taste the coconut, you taste the shrimp, so one doesn’t overpower the other. I was fortunate to have been a sous chef and then become a pastry chef,” he noted.
Lively intends to produce his own ice cream next year, and add to his line of soups, pastries and organic gourmet takeout meals such as coconut key lime smoked barbecue ribs. He will teach a cooking class in your own kitchen or cater a fancy wedding as your personal chef.
“I really want people to feel welcome. The aura you should feel as you come into the store is comfort,” Lively said. “Everything is the essence of who I am and who you are. Every day is different. I get to experience and meet people and I’m producing a product that is great.”
The shop is modeled after an old mercantile with a soft sofa, copper pots and pans, an old Victrola, several antique radios, cookbooks, photos, jars and boxes of chocolates.
“I have regular customers who come in for soup and food. I love the town of Brewster; it’s one town that really hasn’t changed but where we’re creating a downtown Brewster where we’re all pulling together,” he said.
2628 Main St., Brewster
Reprinted with permission from http://www.wickedlocal.com/
Wicked Local photo by Barry Donahue