Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Last Of My Truffles From Argyles.

Mr. Hawthorne and I finished up the last of the truffles from Argyles Restaurant on April 23. Here's our last serving of the divine truffles from The Belgian Chocolate Company of Argyles Restaurant. Here's my original post of our lunch at Argyles. Truffles. More truffles.
Viennese Amaretto Truffle.
It keeps getting better and better.
Praline Hazelnut Truffle.
Milk chocolate truffle.
Grand Marnier truffle.
And the very last truffle - Champagne.
I soooo want to learn how to make these confections. The first time we went to Argyles, we had an excellent meal. Mr. Hawthorne had the chicken salad and I had the rockfish tacos with a jalapeno tartar sauce and an Asian slaw. I loved it. And I was super impressed by the chocolate artistry. In fact, I called back later that evening to get the name of our hostess and when she found out I was blogging about the restaurant, she immediately handed the phone to PJ (the owner, along with his wife and executive chef, Debra). We had a nice conversation during their busy supper hour and while talking, I decided I wanted to do an interview of sorts and blog about Argyles. PJ graciously accepted A few days later, I sent my set of questions to PJ and Debra, and in spite of how busy they were, Debra responded immediately. When we had lunch the first time at Argyles, we filled up a little treasure chest of truffles to take home. Cherle, the hostess, told me they shipped all over and one of their shipments was to someone in the higher echelons of Bon Appetit who was so impressed by the truffles that Debra was invited to go to the Vegas Uncorked event with her confections. BoldHere's my "interview." And no, I'm no Oprah or Barbara Walters. (Thank God.) Rosie: Could you give me a bit of the history of Argyles? Seems like I remember it being a deli/sandwich shop years ago. Have you always been the owners? Debra: Yes. we are the original owners and started out in Manteo 22 years ago. One year there and four years on the beach road across from the Ramada Inn. This was just the Bake Shoppe. We moved into our location in 1994 and did the Bake Shoppe, Deli Lunch, and Pub Style Dinner for two years while we waited for the health department to approve our glassware. Rosie: When did you start opening for lunch. Debra: We did lunch from 1994 until December of 1999. We stopped after a storm came through in September and destroyed our deli cases. We just started up again due to popular demand. Rosie: What's your most popular dish? Debra: Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi with a Pineapple Rum Butter Sauce for dinner and our Tropical Thai Chicken Wrap and the Argyles Chicken Salad vie for first. Rosie: Your chicken salad is delicious. How do you achieve the lovely texture? Pulsing in a food processor? Debra: Hand chopping. Rosie: How did Debra start cooking? What were her influences? Debra: I started cooking when I was about 13. My Father and Grandmother were great cooks. Years later a friend of my mother's who was trained in France at the Cordon Bleu trained me. Rosie: Where do you find your inspiration for your dishes and your chocolates? Debra: Believe it or not, in my head. I see a recipe or hear about a dish and then I start thinking about what I would like it to taste like and go from there. No measuring, just pinch, dash, or a free pour. Rosie: How did Debra come up with those divine truffles? Debra: I made up the recipes and just filled them up. Rosie: Please tell me about the upcoming Vegas Uncorked. Debra: A wonderful experience for all. Grand tastings of all the big restaurants in Vegas. Paired with over 40 vintners from the West Coast. There are huge dinners you can go to and meet the chefs. The costs range from $200 - $500 per person. We are located in with the vintners and we will be at the dinner at Madalay Bay Casino at Better By The Bay event with Alain Ducasse and Charlie Palmer. We are providing the VIP Gift Bags for his guests exclusively. Rosie: I noticed you had an award from Taste of the Beach for the "healthiest dish." What was it? Debra: It was a lobster and shrimp pineapple salsa with a Key Lime and Pineapple Balsamic reduction drizzled over the top. NO FAT! Lo calorie. Rosie: What are your plans for the future? Debra: A lot of hard work! I love my restaurant and love making chocolates. I would love to sell the chocolates in a large city. It's hard to do that here. Rosie: What has been your biggest challenge? Debra: Well, I think I need to clone myself. My hands can't work fast enough, time is too short, and I am a perfectionist. I want consistency, and you can only get that by doing it yourself. Rosie: What has been your greatest success? Debra: My three children and grandchildren. I like to take credit for them. They are all of them wonderful women and all of them work here at the beach. 1 lawyer, 1 salon owner and wedding coordinator, and the last is my catering manager and a hairstylist. Business-wise, my restaurant. It proves if you are willing to work 115 hours a week you can have anything. But you have to be willing to really work. Today is my day off and I have made 60 cupcakes, 10 cakes, 45 gallons of she crab soup, 45 gallons of French Onion Soup, 40 gallons of Marinara sauce, and 2 gallons of our shrimp Daniel sauce. Answered 20 bridal requests. Oh, and I answered your e-mail!
Thank you so much, Debra, for taking time out of your ridiculously busy schedule to answer me. Now, about that opening for chocolatier apprentice ...


Anonymous said...

What does this mean?
two years while we waited for the health department to approve our glassware.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

I, too, wondered about that. I didn't bother Debra with asking about it since I knew she was knee-deep in truffles for the Vegas show. I'm thinking THOUSANDS of truffles. If you'd like to e-me at I'll let you know when I find out about the glassware issue.

Marilyn said...

Yeah, Rosie, you got some splainin' to do!