I hope everyone is able to enjoy Valentine’s Day even if plans got a little messed up with the weather. I feel sorry for florists and chocolate shops because they may have lost a lot of business. Luckily, my flower delivery went through and so did my chocolates! I’m a happy girl! I got double chocolates for Valentine’s Day. First, I got a box from Anna Shea Chocolates in Illinois. I always wanted a box of artistically decorated chocolates. These are so lovely with bright colors and glitter. Some of my favorites from this collection included the candied bacon caramel (smooth with nice smoke–who knew I’d like bacon and chocolate?), aged balsamic caramel, cinnamon swirl (just like a cinnamon roll), cherry baby, raspberry blush (I love the taste of raspberry puree and chocolate), and vadelma.
I also got chocolates from FIKA, the Swedish coffee shop in NYC I mentioned in my Dina’s Guide to NYC Chocolate Shops. These truffles were melt-in-your-mouth good. Many were exceptional like the incredibly good goat cheese, macadamia nut, water sea salt caramel and hazelnut gianduja.
I love dark chocolate and one of my favorites is sea salt dark chocolate. In Raleigh, NC, there are two chocolate makers, Escazu Artisan Chocolates in Mordecai on Blount Street and Videri Chocolate Factory on West Davie Street in the Warehouse District. Escazu’s sea salt dark chocolate bar is 65% cocoa; Videri’s, 60%.
I decided to do a taste test involving three other people. We tasted both of these (they blind, me knowing) and it was 50/50 split of which is best. Two tasters thought Videri was too bitter and preferred the flavor of Escazu’s chocolate. (Escazu’s chocolate also has vanilla in it.) Two tasters thought Escazu’s was too salty while the other two thought Videri’s was too salty. Go figure. The taste and texture of both chocolate bars is different. For a taste test yourself, visit both shops. For $5, you can tour Videri’s factory.
Halloween is not a gift-giving holiday, but it can be if you want to give a gift to someone special or to yourself! I found some cool Halloween- and fall-related gift items.
The first is this adorable pumpkin-shaped cookbook of pumpkin recipes I saw at Kinokuniya, a Japanese bookstore in Manhattan. (They even have ones on potatoes, eggs and pasta too.)
If you want something a little more eerie, opt for the chocolate skull at Fika, a Scandinavian coffee shop in Manhattan.
Posted in Chocolate, Cookbook, Holiday
Tagged chocolate, cookbook, Fika, Halloween, Japanese, Kinokuniya, pumpkin, Scandinavian, skull
National Ice Cream Month is nearly over, so I’m featuring spumoni. I have a memory of the best spumoni at Villabate Bakery in Brooklyn (before it became Villabate Alba). Where better to try spumoni than at L&B Spumoni Gardens in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. L&B is a pizzeria that sells spumoni and ices as well. It’s still owned by the same family as the original owner. There are outdoor tables outside, and you can walk up to the window and either order pizza or spumoni/ices. On my visit, I got both. I saw a lot of people with plastic cups of the signature spumoni with its distinctive green, brown and yellow color representing pistachio, chocolate and vanilla. So I got one too while my friend got plain vanilla. While it was a smooth treat, I prefer my spumoni with pink cherry in it. Also, I prefer the lemon ice at L&B to the spumoni.
The second spumoni I sampled was at the recent Giglio Festival in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, from an Uncle Louie G’s stand. It had the same vanilla, chocolate and pistachio in yellow, brown and green. However, it was smoother than L&B and had more flavor. I really enjoyed this one.
Posted in Gelato, Ice Cream, Italian, New York
Tagged Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, cherry, chocolate, Giglio Festival, ice cream, L&B Spumoni Gardens, lemon ice, National Ice Cream Month, pistachio, spumoni, Uncle Louie G's, vanilla, Villabate, Williamsburg
OK, Sweets Week is over, but National Ice Cream Month isn’t! On every Monday in July, I’m going to feature some yummy ice cream or frozen treat!
Today’s ice cream comes from an unlikely place, a chocolate shop. Vosges Haut Chocolat is probably my favorite chocolate shop. The flavors are exquisite, and the chocolate just melts on your tongue. Well, a few of those wonderful flavors are also available as ice cream! Their popular chocolate Naga®–sweet Indian curry + coconut +41% deep milk chocolate is one of my favorites. Now, they have Naga curry and coconut soft-serve ice cream. And it’s creamy and delicious. The flavors are subtle, so if you’re afraid of curry in ice cream, don’t be! This is one of the most delicious ice creams I’ve had in a while. And the waffle cones are made in house, and they, too, are delicious.
July is National Ice Cream Month, so I’m doing a Sweets Week with a focus on frozen treats like ice cream and frozen yogurt.
I love Van Leeuwen ice cream. My favorite flavor is currants and cream, a flavor that is seasonal and often sold out. I like many of their flavors (except cinnamon, which I think is a bit overdone with cinnamon). I usually have to chase down their truck on Bleecker Street or in the Meatpacking District, but now they have a permanent store on East 7th Street, so I can visit at my leisure. On this trip, I got the basics, strawberry and chocolate.
Verdict: Do you remember when Breyer’s ice cream was all natural and good? When I taste Van Leeuwen strawberry, I taste that familiar fresh strawberry ice cream. Van Leeuwen captures the texture and flavor of pure ice cream. The chocolate is good too, but the strawberry lives up to being called strawberry ice cream.
Posted in Ice Cream, New York
Tagged artisan, chocolate, cinnamon, currants and cream, ice cream, July, National Ice Cream Month, strawberry, truck, Van Leeuwen
Enter my giveaway to win a copy of Susan Meisel’s new book, New York Sweets: A Sugarhound’s Guide to the Best Bakeries, Ice Cream Parlors, Candy Shops, and Other Emporia of Delicious Delights.
First up, L.A. Burdick in Flatiron. L.A. Burdick is a chocolate shop known for its fresh, European-style chocolates, especially cute chocolate mice and penguins. L.A. Burdick also has a cafe where you can try a number of pastries and cakes along with a hot chocolate. I got a chocolate coconut cake, mostly because I’m feeling coconut these days.
Verdict: This cake is a coconut lover’s paradise. From the large flakes of toasted coconut on top to the coconut cream to the chocolate cake with coconut in it, this cake is chock full of coconut–a cake version of a coconut macaroon.
Posted in Cake, Chocolate, Dessert, New York
Tagged chocolate, coconut, giveaway, L.A. Burdick, New York Sweets, Susan Meisel, sweets, Sweets Week