Today’s birthday girl, Lisa, had to return home to North Carolina for her actual celebration date, but not before getting a serious chocolate fix during a few days in NYC. Lisa’s first request, a return to Brooklyn’s The Chocolate Room for flourless chocolate cake in a pool of raspberry sauce—“sex on a plate,” in her words—set off our plan for a chocolate tour of the city. Not so difficult, since the location of various chocolate purveyors made for convenient pit stops on our shopping adventures with fellow summer b-day girl, Jeanine. Got to keep your strength up!
A stop by small chocolate shops wherever you visit can be a wonderful way to taste products by local food artisans, and it’s easy to sample a piece of two without spending a lot. (In my hometown of Kansas City, I always head for Christopher Elbow Artisanal Chocolates for beautiful, jewel-like bonbons, and the more traditional comforts of Annedore’s.) Stops on our NY tour included:
- Jacques Torres Chocolate Haven. Mr. Chocolate has a few locations around the city, but nothing beats a trip to the source in Soho, where the chocolates are made. Really, who can resist a place called Chocolate Haven? Where you can sit at the marble counter and have a signature Wicked hot chocolate (frozen for summer)? Bonus: Jacques is very hands-on with the factory’s operations and was even spotted on our Saturday visit, before donning his motorcycle helmet and scooting out the door.
- Kee’s Chocolates. A low-key shop in Soho with a small, but innovative selection of truffles (and French-style macaroons) made on site. Lisa could be heard muttering ‘’mmmmm’’ every few seconds as she slowly consumed her coconut truffle while walking down the street.
- MarieBelle Sweets. Time for another Soho shopping break, where the European-style café in back serves chocolates and teas. MarieBelle’s ganache-filled chocolates are like miniature silk-screened works of art; my caramel square looked much like a blue and white Delft tile. The real surprise here was a saffron ganache that pairs amazingly well with chocolate.
- Nunu Chocolates. A stop at the Atlantic Avenue storefront, where this small producer is headquartered, for sea salt caramels and a Prosecco-filled bonbon, plus some chocolate-covered cacao nibs. As Nunu’s info tells us, they contain high levels of flavonoids and antioxidants, “making them an incredibly tasty and healthy treat.” Can’t argue with that.
- Roni-Sue Chocolates. Time didn’t permit a trip to the Lower East Side for this chocolate maker, known for her selection of truffles with cocktail combos like the Dark and Stormy and the Manhattan, plus a fantastic buttercrunch. But have to give a shoutout to Roni-Sue, having had the pleasure of meeting her on a previous visit, where she packed up a gift box, and even added her signature to boot.
Oh well, there’s always next year. In the meantime, think I’ll slip out for a slice of The Chocolate Room’s triple-layer chocolate cake (which has even got the nod from Oprah) in honor of the birthday girl.