New York Is Chocolate Country, Chocolate tours of New York City
You can do your Chocolate walking tour in NYC !!!
New York is rapidly becoming one of the most exciting cities of the world for high-quality, artisan chocolates. What better way to experience them then to take a unique tour of some of Manhattan's finest chocolate shops and bars. In addition, since this is a walking tour, you can combine some healthy exercise with a decadent "foodie" adventure
(You can get the specific walking directions and view maps on MapBlast.)
Spend the morning in SoHo, starting at MarieBelle, 484 Broome Street; then the charming postage-stamp sized Kee's Chocolates, 80 Thompson Street, finishing with Jacques Torres' Chocolate Haven, 350 Hudson Street.
Hop a cab uptown to Payard Patisserie, 1032 Lexington Avenue (between 73rd and 74th Streets), where you can have a light lunch and/or enjoy Francois Payard's award winning chocolates. (For subway directions, see: Hop Stop.) The remainder of the afternoon, tour Martine's Belgian-style chocolate shop in Bloomingdales', 1000 3rd Ave; and La Maison du Chocolate,1018 Madison Ave.
As soon as you walk into MarieBelle, the aroma of freshly brewed chocolate calls you in, all of the sudden you are transported back in time. Our experience started at the Cacao Bar where you can relax and drink the Aztec Hot Chocolate, which I think is the darkest and richest hot chocolate we have ever had. I had mine with milk and Tom had his with water. The hot chocolate contains NO COCOA POWDER, but instead, is made from the purest Belgian cocoa and most refined sugar. There are 4 flavors (Aztec Original, Aztec Dark, Aztec Mocha and Aztec Spicy) and 4 recipes (Hot Chocolate, Ice Chocolate, Chocolate Pudding and Spicy Hot Chocolate Nightcap with Tequila. There are beautiful and fun chocolates displayed like jewels in antique cases and boxed in gorgeous packages. Some chocolates look like works of art; others are fun things like chocolate rocks and chocolate olives. MarieBelle’s chocolates are handmade, with over 20 exotic flavors, including Earl Grey Tea, Saffron, Spices, Cardamom, Lemon and Hazelnut.
Kee's Chocolates (80 Thompson Street)
This tiny shop set a few feet off of Spring Street is definitely a must see on any tour of New York's chocolate shops. We found the owner, Kee Ling Tong, hard at work producing a new batch of truffles. This is a very informal setting. You can ask her all sorts of questions about her chocolate making process. Kee's chocolates are amazingly fresh. You buy them only minutes after she has made them. Her flavors are eclectic and unusual (e.g., sesame, passion fruit, pumpkin), but we thought the best were the white chocolate with green tea, Crème Brulee and the key lime. Her creations come in both milk and dark, as well as white chocolate. Try to arrive early in the day as she frequently sells out of her most popular flavors by lunch. Since her chocolates are so fresh and made without any preservatives, they must be eaten within a day or two.
Jacques Torres' Chocolate Haven (350 Hudson Street)
Jacques Torres is New York's "Willie Wonka". The Chocolate Haven is his own real chocolate factory. Enormous windows allow passersby to see every step of the chocolate-making process. Inside, there was chocolate everywhere, lining the windows, on small stands between the counter and the door, and for a good twenty feet along the counter. Just inside the door, facing the main display, was an espresso and hot-chocolate bar, where you can get decadent hot chocolate and various pastries and cookies. Hot chocolate flavors are with Classic or Wicked (laced with Ancho and Chipotle Chilies). Treats for sale included small bags of chocolate-dunked macadamias, hazelnuts and almonds. Huge slabs of nut-studded milk, dark, and white chocolate bark, to be broken upon request. Try some with the dried cranberries!! You will also find simply-wrapped bars of plain chocolate for baking or eating, with varying percentages of cocoa solids; chocolate-covered marshmallows; champagne truffles made with Taittinger and shaped like corks; chocolate-covered cornflake clusters, espresso beans, fortune cookies and orange peel. At the center of the long counter, there are a pair of chocolate stations, each manned by a knowledgeable staff member and piled with easily twenty different kinds of chocolate. The flavors include: Love Potion #9 (dark chocolate ganache in dark chocolate), Golden Espresso, Fresh Squeezed Lemon, and Liquid Caramel, Cinnamon Praline, Grand Cru (red wine in dark chocolate), Heart of Passion (passion fruit), Wicked Fun (spiced with chilies), Fresh Coconut, Bin 27 Port (port wine in dark chocolate), Almondine, and Raspberry Fruit.
Payard Patisserie (1032 Lexington Avenue)
Just about everything here is extraordinary, from the bistro menu with dishes like bouillabaisse and potato tourtes to the amazing pastries and chocolates sold in the bakery up front. For a light lunch, try one of the appetizers or a salad. The biggest problem here is choosing among the fabulous, beautifully presented sweet treats. In the patisserie up front, everything is displayed like the jewels: elegant cakes, tempting pastries, fabulous sorbets and handmade chocolates fill the gleaming glass cases up front. Flavors of the chocolates include: a wide variety of ganache (Almond Paste and Pistachio, Cinnamon, Raspberry, Coffee, Earl Grey Tea, Kirsch and Grand Marnier, White Chocolate Ganache with Passion Fruit and White Chocolate Ganache with Rosewater). There are also homemade candied orange peel covered in dark chocolate, shredded coconut covered in dark chocolate, champagne truffles, chocolate fondue and many other confections for sale. There is also a selection of Kosher chocolates.
Martine's (1000 3rd Ave)
There are two Locations for Martine's Chocolates: in Bloomingdale's (6th floor) and Martine's Chocolates Too(400 East 82nd Street., right off First Avenue). We visited the former. The "Bloomie's" location is a delightful little shop at which you can watch Martine's own chef chocolatiers make their fresh cream truffles and chocolate creations right in front of the customers. There is an assortment of truffle flavors, e.g., caramel, champagne, cognac, Grand Marnier and Raspberry. Martine's truffles are made fresh daily without preservatives--so the truffles need to be refrigerated and eaten within a few days. There are chocolate barks of all sorts, marzipan, chocolate covered fruits and nuts. There are also many amazing chocolate creations, animals, flowers, hats, fruits and vegetables, hearts, holiday items, angels and others like the American Flag, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, New York Skyline, etc. You can even have a creation custom-made for your own special occasion.
La Maison du Chocolate (1018 Madison Ave)
At La Maison du Chocolat, everything is the color of chocolate. The walls, the displays and the gift boxes all come in warm cocoa tones. The chocolate confections are all delectable. There are champagne, cognac, apricot and mocha truffles. All sort of of filled chocolates with flavors like Earl Grey Tea, cinnamon, pistachio, lemon; chocolate covered nuts and fruit, chocolate bark, chocolate bars, etc. All the chocolates are made in France and flown into NYC. There are other types of treats; brownies, chocolate cakes and mousse, etc. There is a tea room in back of the Madison Avenue store that serves excellent hot chocolate.
After the dazzle of Michel Cluizel, if you still have any energy, proceed west on 18th Street to the nearby City Bakery, which features a small chocolate room of treats in addition to other chocolate desserts and an entire month (February) featuring a different type of hot chocolate each day! Continue on West 18th Street to Ninth Avenue, and then two blocks north up to La Bergamote, where in addition to New York's finest truffles you'll find phenomenal triple chocolate mousse, chocolate mousse cakes, and souris au chocolat (in the shape of chocolate mice).
From here go back down Ninth Avenue four blocks to the Chelsea Market, with astounding brownies at Fat Witch Bakery, chocolate goodies at Eleni's Bakery, Ruthy's Ruggelach, Sarabeth's and ice cream at Jimmy's Gelato and Leonidas pralines at Chelsea Market Baskets. Exit the market and proceed back to Eighth Avenue: we have only three more stops to go! Make a right on Eighth Avenue, and at the corner of 14th Street head in to Balducci's, this wonderful gourmet temple which of course has a nice selection of chocolates and desserts. Further south and on the opposite side of Eighth Avenue you'll encounter Chocolate Bar, with its sensational truffles, fascinating chocolate-inspired goods (ranging from teas to t-shirts) and great bars and gift ideas. Better sit and have a hot chocolate (or maybe a white mocha) while you're here, to rest up for your final stop right nearby: Lilac Chocolates.