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More Chocolate

Oh, right – there’s more chocolate from last weekend.

So one of the things I had been delighted to note when I was planning the trip to New York was that there was a Vosges store near my aunt’s apartment. But, hey, I figured I’d see them at the Chocolate Show anyway – only they weren’t there. (I found out later that they were in the other side of the convention area in the Food & Wine section… and once I finished the Chocolate Show I did stop by the ticket counter to see how much it would cost to upgrade my ticket, but there was no way I was paying an additional $50 when I was already stretching my limits with just the chocolate.)

So I stopped by the store on Sunday. And while my favorite local purveyors of fine chocolate (and excellent coffees and teas), Walnut Bridge Coffee House (I am biased because I was dating someone who lived in the same building as the owners when the shop opened, and so there was the whole introduction and the hearing about their hopes and dreams and quest for amazing chocolate, but still – it’s run by a wonderful couple) have introduced me to their bar chocolates, I have never tried their truffles.

So I popped into the store, chatted up the people behind the counter, and was introduced to the truffles they had in stock.

I left with

  • Gianduia
    • store description: Crunchy hazelnut praline + milk chocolate + praline bits
    • my description – I’m not even sure that this is the right one… my receipt says I left with a Jazz truffle, and I’m sure I did not buy anything with any flavor of coffee. So this is my next best guess. Anyway, this was the one that was a pretty standard chocolate truffle with no distinguishing flavors at all.
  • Dulch de Leche
    • store description – Argentinean dulce de leche + milk chocolate + Costa Rican cashews. A creamy caramel-like spread, Dulce de Leche is a staple among Argentinean breakfast fare and desserts. Our Dulce de Leche truffle combines Argentinean caramel, milk chocolate and Costa Rican cashews to reference a truly Latin tradition.
    • my description – truffle. with creamy caramel inside. I had a better one at the show
  • Balsamico
    • store description – Twelve-year-aged balsamic vinegar from Modena blushes with dark chocolate and roasted hazelnuts
    • I had to really strain to catch the faint notes of the vinegar. This was very modest and dainty, and I far prefer the unapologetic (but well chosen and balanced) flavors in their bars.
  • Olio d’Oliva
    • store description – First press extra virgin olive oil + white chocolate + dried kalamata olives
    • my description – Okay, finally, one with a little boldness. The olive oil flavor was very pronounced. Now I was a little tentative choosing this one since I am not a fan of olives… but I think it was just strengthening the oil flavor because I was not put off by the olives at all (and I probably should have had to work a little harder to like it because and olive fan might be disappointed).

And when I went to the counter, the Rooster (Taleggio cheese + organic walnuts + Tahitian vanilla bean + bittersweet dark chocolate) caught my eye as it popped up in a proud little mountain, but they hadn’t gotten a proper shipment at this location, so I didn’t get to try that one.

Conclusion: I’m sticking with their candy bars.


And then I walked over to the 92nd Street Y to see Neil Gaiman be interviewed by Chip Kidd, and I figured I’d ooze into a sexy coffeeshop somewhere along the way and pick up some hot tea. Only the Upper East Side seems to be a vast wasteland for coffeeshops. There are corner diners and fancy restaurants, but I don’t think I passed a single coffeeshop. When I got to the Y, I asked the guys manning the desk, and they waved me over to the Dunkin Donuts across the street. Now I have nothing against Dunkin Donuts, but there’s one across the street from where I work, and I’m not going there when I’m in New York City. So I saw two properly urbane-looking women conversing on the steps, so I asked them if they were local enough to offer a recommendation – and it worked!

They pointed me up a block to a cupcake shop called Crumbs!

So one hot chocolate (ghirardelli powder, I think) and a lemon poppyseed muffin later, I was camped out on the steps myself waiting for a line. And then right before we started queuing to be let in (no real line because there was assigned seating), I popped back over for a second hot chocolate – because the beverage and the service was just that good.

moar chocolate

So I’ve been sampling local hot chocolates. Well, today I went to Starbucks because a co-worker had a coupon for free coffee. And I’m afraid their hot chocolate might be the best of the lot. It was the least sweet and possibly the most flavourful. A medium, however, was $2.94

And then I had three 30g chocolate bars from Dolfin:

  • Dark w/ pink peppercorns from Brazil – I’d had this one before and adored it. One of the things I like is the occasional crunch of a piece of peppercorn. It’s a nice balance of spicy and intriguing flavor.
  • Dark – white pepper & cardamom from Guatemala – surprisingly tasty. This one was a bit of a risk for me, since I’ve had bad cardamom experiences in my past, but it ended up being quite tasty; it did not taste at all like chai to me. Sorry to get poetic, but it kind of tasted like dancing.
  • Milk w/ green tea and jasmin from Morocco – I love how people have discovered that the bitterness of the tea makes it go better with these dark milk chocolates instead of with dark chocolate. It makes these (by which I mean this one and the Vosges bar) incredibly sensuous, and it makes me unwilling to eat them with any restraint at all. As for the Jasmine? That flavor was subtly there, but I didn’t think it changed the character of the bar much.

More hot chocolate

Because my data from the cafe in the basement was corrupt (I had sent a student worker to bring me hot chocolate, and so I didn’t know whether it was made from a syrup or a powder), I felt fully justified in trying there again… especially since it let me avoid an elevator ride with someone I don’t like.


Also, there is a hidden syrup option that doesn’t appear anywhere on the menu – I just happened to spot a jug of mayan chocolate syrup on their counter.

Today’s hot chocolate, therefore, was incredibly sinfully good, but I have no idea whether I should blame that on “exotic” chocolate or the fact that the other syrup was added on top of the regular syrup and I had 160% of the recommended chocolate syrup portioning. MMmmm!

And there was more decorative syrup on top of the whipped cream.

A+ for the convenient cafe. (but possibly not replicable)

ETA: totally replicable.

Hot Chocolate

In the ongoing quest for really good hot chocolate nearby (since the best I’ve found in the city so far is either from Walnut Bridge or Naked Chocolate, depending on the type of hot chocolate you want, but I’m not popping over to either on a quick break)…

Anyway, so in the ongoing quest for nearby hot chocolate, I used a coupon for a free cup of Milky Way brand hot chocolate from Dunkin Donuts (the closest external hot chocolate source. So even though I have never heard of this unholy combination, who am I to pass up free stuff I want anyway?

So it’s hot chocolate from a machine. With caramel flavor. And it’s pretty damn good. I think this might be the best hot chocolate I’ve had on this quest. And by far the cheapest.

The quest for the best local hot chocolate

I am at work, so I thought I’d console myself by buying a fancy hot chocolate (and by earning overtime, so not so much consoling as luxuriating)

Only – woe! – the cafe in the basement is closed because they are not working on Martin Luther King day.

So my other options for a fancy pantsy hot chocolate within a 1 block radius include:
– Dunkin Donuts (who pretty much just has a machine where they’ll give you the equivalent of cheap ass powdered cocoa, but I have coupons that would make this option free. Also, they are the closest)
– Starbucks (I have gotten tasty hot chocolate from Starbucks before when I was in Seattle and people were trying to brainwash me to the glory of Starbucks – no lie!)
– Cosi (most likely to have an annoying line, but also probably the most satisfying option)
– Bucks County Coffee Company – (untried, but it seems reasonable that they’d be good, ya’know?)

I will be waffling about this for at least another hour while I am inside and toasty warm.

ETA: The winner was Bucks County Coffee. Well, sort of winner. They looked at me funny when I asked for a fancy pants cocoa and did not try to sell me on drizzles of chocolate syrup or odd flavors or anything. They just made me a regular hot cocoa and charged me $2.50. That said, it was like good powdered cocoa where you get just the right ratio of powder to milk. It was light and creamy, but went down easily and is now all gone. Not a luxury drink, but tasty and yummy nonetheless.

ETAA: The next day, I tried Cosi. Again, I went up and asked for some kind of fancy hot chocolate (only not the white chocolate thing they were advertising), and again the person shrugged and offered me a regular hot chocolate. A large was $3. This time it was milk and syrup, instead of powder, but she could have had a heavier hand with the syrup. It ended up being a bit too bland for my taste.

ETAAA: Hot chocolate from the cafe in the basement. Eh – it’s a lot like hot chocolate everywhere else. I did not see how they made it, though, since I sent a student worker to get it for me. No, not quite that imperiously: I just asked if she’d mind getting it after she asked if she could go get a coffee for herself.

When did dark chocolate sexiness go out of fashion? I liked that fashion.