Sunday, February 13, 2005

New York Chocolate Cafes

Hershey bars are for the weak - one needs to travel to NYC to get a taste at a local chocolate cafe! Each cafe has its own personality and at most cafes, chocolates from the display case are $1 to $3.50 apiece; desserts requiring a fork run $5 to $8. Hot chocolate so thick you'll need a spoon and a cold water chaser runs $3 to $7.

The Chocolate Bar, in the West Village
(48 Eighth Ave., near Jane Street).
Specialty: Chocolate tea. light, palate-clearing alternative to the thick hot chocolate.
Treats: creatively flavored -- rosehip chocolates and seriously spicy brownies.

Jacques Torres Chocolate Haven (350 Hudson St., near King).
Specialty: Chocolate is made from scratch, starting with the cocoa beans. Window show of candymakers in white gowns assembling goodies amid the mini-factory's gleaming silver tubes and vats. The spacious, light-filled, unpretentious cafe has a warm and welcoming staff. Cookies and other treats are also available.

Payard (1032 Lexington Ave. near 73rd Street).
Specialty: Masterpiece collection of chocolates named for painters. Picasso is dark chocolate flavored with Earl Gray; Van Gogh is chocolate with pistachio, and Chagall has pralines.

Chocolate Chess, anyone?

La Maison du Chocolat (1018 Madison Ave., near 78th Street).
Specialty: Togo, dark chocolate filled with mousse ($6), is a nice alternative to individual chocolates. There's another Maison at 30 Rockefeller Plaza if you're ice-skating or visiting the newly reopened Museum of Modern Art (53rd Street near Fifth Avenue).

SOHO Boutiques
Vosges Haut Chocolat(132 Spring St., near Greene).
Specialty: The unusual combinations, like white chocolate with olive oil and Kalamata olives, and "Budapest" -- dark chocolate with Hungarian paprika.

Lunettes et Chocolat (25 Prince St., near Mott).
Specialty: Eye candy. The store sells eyeglass frames -- $225 to $1,000 -- and MarieBelle chocolates -- two for $7. Chocolates here are miniature works of art, topped with colorful, edible geometric designs and silhouettes, all silkscreened on cocoa butter with natural food coloring. Wash them down with spicy hot chocolate, containing cinnamon, nutmeg and chipotle. (Another MarieBelle is located at 484 Broome St., near West Broadway.)

The Ritz-Carlton Battery Park (Two West Street, at the foot of Manhattan, near the Bowling Green subway station):
Specialty: Chocolate Bar. Fridays and Saturdays in February, at 7 p.m., 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., plus 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Feb. 14, Valentine's Day.

Finally, if you've got an extra 100 bucks to blow, go to FAOSwartz(58th Street and Fifth Avenue).
Specialty: Volcano. A chocolate-and-ice cream concoction, with candy boulders and chocolate caramel lava, serves four; kids get hardhats and shovels before digging in.

We've love to frequent Marie-Belle on Bloome. They've got thee best hot chocolate served up European style. We enjoy bringing it back as a gift to our kitty sitter.

Marie Belle

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