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 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 Essex Street Market 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 in honor of the birthday girl.