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.
Before I had Royce’ Chocolate, I didn’t like white chocolate. In fact, I hated it. But after tasting the melting white chocolate cream that is Royce’s NAMA white chocolate, I love it. This is white chocolate at its very best, and here at Hunting for the Very Best, that is what we look for!
I first read about Royce’ Chocolate on Asian food blogs. Without a trip to Asia planned any time soon, I thought I’d never get to try this elusive creamy goodness I’d heard about. Lo and behold, on a cold, winter day, I passed the doorway of a narrow shop on Madison Avenue, Royce’. Indeed, this was the chocolate I’d been longing to try. The small shop showcases chocolates along its sleek white-lit walls. The company’s famous NAMA chocolates are in a refrigerated case on one side. The NAMA chocolates are a mix of chocolate and fresh cream and come with or without liqueur. The cream comes from a dairy farm in Hokkaido, in Northeastern Japan. In addition to the NAMA chocolates, there are chocolate bars, chocolate-covered cookies, chocolate-covered popcorn, chocolate wafers, chocolate truffles and much more.
The friendly staff greeted me and gave me samples of almost every product. Besides the NAMA chocolates, Royce’s claim to fame is chocolate-dipped potato chips. Yes, I was skeptical, how could this taste good? But after sampling the milk chocolate, caramel-flavored white chocolate and cheese-flavored white chocolate (yes, cheese-flavored white chocolate) varieties, I am a convert. In fact, here I go again extoling the white chocolate at Royce’, but these are out of this world good. The only problem I see is that the box is too small!
cheese-flavored white chocolate
Royce’ Chocolate opened in 1983 and began producing NAMA chocolates in 1995. While I was visiting Royce’, I met co-owner Ken Romaniszyn, who is also the owner of Lady M Confections, the popular cake bakery on the Upper East Side. I also met Maiko Yamazaki, daughter of Royce’s founder, Yasuhiro Yamazaki. In addition to the Madison Avenue store, Royce’ is opening a store on Bleecker Street in the West Village.
- ROYCE’ Madison Shop, 509 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10022, 646-590-0650.