Chocolate, Meet Beer

Sometimes I feel sorry for wine. Areas in which it once stood alone –  association with terroir, pairings with steak – are being taken over by other alcoholic beverage categories. And now, it no longer stands alone in the world of romance. Of all beverages, it’s beer leading the charge, with Boston brewers Samuel Adams figuring out that their flagship Boston Lager pairs perfectly with chocolate. But not just any chocolate, of course. For romantic occasions such as Valentine’s Day, you want the fancy stuff, like PureNotes Dark "Chocolatey" chocolate from San Francisco chocolatier TCHO. I tried this pairing and figured out why it works so well.

Don’t get me wrong, wine and chocolate aren’t getting a divorce any time soon. But beer is an exciting interloper in the relationship, because it does things that wine won’t or can’t do. While wine complements chocolate on the fruity side of things, the malt and hops of beer provide a dry counterpoint to the sweetness of the chocolate, bringing out a whole range of complex flavors. When you pop a square of TCHO’s 70% cacao chocolate into your gob and then take a pull of Boston Lager, it’s hard to figure out where the chocolate ends and the beer begins. Two become one, like lovers’ hearts on Valentine’s Day. And just when those flavors melt into your mouth, the carbonation comes along to shake things up and prep you for another go. It’s a sexy pairing that’s easy to enjoy, and with lager’s lower alcohol content, the night can go on and on.

To try this pairing yourself, get yourself a Samuel Adams Love of Beer Chocolate Box for $16.95 (you can order it here) and a six-pack of Samuel Adams Boston Lager. The candles, mood music, and smooth talk are up to you.

Why This Monday Rocks: Tonight’s Top Events

So it’s the first day of the work week and there are four more days to go. I get it. But why ruminate when you can start to make Mondays the best night of the week? This weekly column is devoted to finding the best events across NYC hosted by individuals and places that are doing amazing, crazy, wild, sexy things on Monday nights. And I am here to honor them. From Tony Award-winning shows to chocolate desserts, here are tonight’s top events.

Watch dogs show off their stuff:
Shampooed, manicured dogs and their owners get competitive tonight and tomorrow at the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, where 3,000 dogs of 187 breeds stroll across the carpeting as they’re judged across seven divisions, such as toy, terrier, hound, and sporting. Expect lots of owners in pencil skirts and bowties, and nonstop canine cuteness. Airing live from Madison Square Garden tonight, 8pm, CNBC & Tuesday, 8pm, USA. All info here.

See the reunion concert of a Tony Award-winning Broadway show:
In the Heights – the exuberant 2008 musical about three days in the life of Washington Heights residents – returns to New York for a one-night-only concert performance featuring nearly all of the original cast. Written and starring renaissance man Lin-Manuel Miranda (our interview here), this is one of Broadway’s most ebullient shows. A must for not only theatre-lovers, but simply anyone who loves this city. Tonight, 8pm, United Palace Theatre, 4140 Broadway. Tickets & info here.

Eat tons of rarely available chocolate:
Chocolate Week 2013 continues on until Wednesday the 13th, just before V-Day. Participating restaurants and chocolatiers –  such as French spots A.O.C. in the West Village and Bar Tabac in Cobble Hill – are offering special, rarely available desserts like chocolate lava cake and chocolate creme petit pot. Couple this with Valentine’s and there is absolutely no hope for a diet. And that’s just fine. From now until Wednesday the 13th. All details here

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Chocolate, Chocolate Everywhere At The Salon Du Chocolat

This weekend marks the 15th Annual New York Chocolate Show, otherwise known as Salon du Chocolat, which features confectioners, pastry chefs, and food artists from around the world.

Starting tomorrow, November 9, and through November 11, you can hit up The Metropolitan Pavilion in the Flatiron District and see demonstrations by chocolatier Fritz Knipschlldt on how to make chocolate truffles at home, and Zac Young from David Burke Kitchen shows guests how to make a white chocolate crème brulee with bourbon and pumpkin.

Aside from the 35 demos, there are also displays and sample stations. Even though Hurricane Sandy hindered some of the vendors, 45 companies and individuals still made it, including Gnosis Chocolate from Queens, John & Kira’s Chocolate from Philadelphia, Truffly Made from California, and Chocolate Shop Wine from Washington.

If you can’t go this weekend, or prefer your chocolate one bite at time, New York is a great place to indulge. True, there is always aGodiva shop somewhere or Max Brenner’s cacao empire to go to, but plenty of smaller shops also have amazing chocolate goods. Take Jacques Torres, their Wicked Hot Chocolate is spicy, sweet, and so rich, one cup is enough. Not to knock their truffles, those are definitely worth it too.

Kee Ling Tong has truffles in the bag too, and since 2002 she has run Kee’s Chocolates in SoHo. Each truffle is handmade in small batches, and when she runs out of the Earl Grey or passion fruit flavors, it could be a few days before there are more.

For incredibly high-end confections, Maison du Chocolate, MarieBelle New York, and Vosges Haut-Chocolat are the places to go. The latter boosts their Black Pearl truffle and the famous Mo’s Bacon Bar. If bacon is your thing, you can literally pig out on the Pig Candy, whole pieces of bacon dipped in chocolate, atRonnie Sue’s in the Essex Market.

Hunting for some artisanal chocolate made from single-origin beans? Where else would you go but to Brooklyn, and from there the Mast Brothers brick and mortar shop in Williamsburg. There they sell handcrafted bars named after their source. No matter what kind of chocolate suits you, there is something for everyone both at the New York Chocolate Show and on the streets of the city. And, if all else fails, you can always satisfy your sweet tooth at Dylan’s Candy Bar where they have not only retro confections, but every kind of candy you didn’t know you wanted.