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.

A Supreme Stash of Winter Spirits

Who needs central heating when you can blow your bonus on premium spirits that will have you feeling toasty inside and out? Here’s a baker’s dozen that will keep you warm and happy until the first buds of spring appear.

I don’t normally love holiday beers – enough with the cloves already – but Samuel Adams Griffin’s Bow Ale ($7) hits all the right citrus and floral notes. To really get in the spirit, pop a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Vintage 2004 ($75). It’s crisp and balanced with hints of pear and that austere oaky note common to vintage champagnes.

Gentleman Jack Rare Tennessee Whiskey ($32) has complex notes of oak, vanilla, and caramel. It’s a tough southern boy dressed in his Sunday best. Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey ($35) is earthy and warm, with a whisper of orange and a nice kick. Let the ice melt for five minutes and it’s heaven. I love the new Johnnie Walker Double Black Blended Scotch Whisky ($40), from its gorgeous amber color to its woody aroma to its vanilla and honey notes. A peppermint nip mellows its peaty undertones.

Winter’s a wonderful time for dark rum, and Bacardi Reserva Limitada ($110) is one of the best, with a smoky bouquet, vanilla and coconut flavors, and subtle sugars that tickle the tip of the tongue. The new Brugal 1888 ($50) is a delightfully smooth rum, with a flawless balance of oaky and sweet. The even newer DonQ Gran Añejo ($60) is a fun rum, sharp and spicy at first, then mellow and sweet.

Vodka knows no season, but Stoli Chocolat Razberi ($24) seems perfect for a snowy night. It smells like Cream Savers and tastes like a fancy box of chocolates. The interplay between flavors makes it quite sexy – put a glass on your nightstand. I wasn’t sure I’d like Patrón XO Cafe ($25), but I do, a lot. Its aroma alone perks you up, and the agave flavor of the tequila melds surprisingly well with the coffee. I’d want this in my rucksack during a cold night in the Sierra Madres.  

Moving up the sweet scale, the new Kahlúa Cinnamon Spice ($20) is everything it should be. The cinnamon knows its boundaries, and the sweet coffee flavor massages the palate. Baileys Irish Cream ($21) has always had a light touch. You can taste the whiskey, but the creaminess makes it the smoothest dram you’ll ever sip. Finally, when you’re really ready to indulge, open a bottle of Godiva Original Chocolate Liqueur ($30). It has a velvety texture and it’s as chocolatey as you’d ever want it to be, yet balanced enough to not be cloying. It’s delicious chilled, mixed in a cocktail, or even poured over ice cream. Feeling cozy yet?