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Friday, November 11, 2011

New York Chocolate Show

 

Today (or, rather, yesterday) I went to the annual New York Chocolate Show that took place at the Metropolitan Pavilion on 18th street between 7th/8th Avenue with a couple of friends. There was quite a lot to see and taste. Reminiscent of a marketplace, shops were all lined up, merchants were waving over customers and giving explanations, and as I went around each and every booth and tasted the scrumptious sweets they had to offer, I thought I was in chocolate paradise.

 

The first shop located near the entrance was "Spices and Tease" which boasted its extravagant collection of, as its name reveals, spices and teas. The aromas of curry, tea leaves, dried berries, and, of course, chocolate all intermingled into an exotic scent.


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Now that I think about it, I wish I had purchased some unique tea and spices :-(

 

Next up was the booze - I mean, wine. I guess they infused cacao beans to create these chocolate wines. I tasted all four of them, and they all were sweet like dessert wine and tasted very strongly of chocolate - bittersweet with that stinging sensation unique to wine.


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The bottle in the middle looked and tasted like coffee milk. All pretty interesting but, meh, I'm not a big fan of alcohol.

 


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But I did get this cute keychain made out of a wine bottle cork.

 

Next up was Prestat from England. Apparently, they carry Queen Elizabeth's favorite chocolate - the mint chocolate - and have been providing her with it for the past 40 years. Not a big fan of mint chocolate, but according to my friend, it was pretty good.


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Their chocolates were all very smooth and melted wonderfully in your mouth.



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They also carried truffles. While I'm also not a big fan of truffles - I know, I know, picky chocolate eater - these were really good. The one I tasted was praline milk chocolate (or was it hazelnut?).


Next up was one of my favorite shops from the show, Aux Anysetiers du Roy.


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These are solid chocolates of various flavors contained in ceramic pots with a reusable, rubber lid. Basically, all you need to do is remove the lid, pop the pot in the microwave for 2~3 minutes (or in boiling water for 10~15 minutes), stir the melted chocolate, dip in your favorite fruit or pretzels, and voila, you can easily enjoy fondue! The ceramic pots are so adorable, and once you have finished all its sweetness, you can use it elsewhere, like storing sugar and whatnot.

I decided to get myself 70% cacao (dark chocolate) and Lait "Gourmet" (milk chocolate). I personally think fondue tastes best when the chocolate tastes like pure chocolate.

 

Next up was American Heritage Chocolate, which demonstrated how chocolate was processed and refined during the colonial days.


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I felt like I was at a museum with a tour guide, but it was really interesting to see the process. The cacao beans were roasted and then crushed, which would then be ground on stone. Since trade was actively going on at the time, one could sprinkle spices and salts while grinding. The gooey substance was then hardened into chocolate bars. Chocolate was served as drinks, mixed with water, milk, or brandy. We tried it the "Martha Washington" style - mixed with water - and it felt like I was drinking some sort of chocolate elixir. I bet it would taste really awesome with boiled milk!

 

There were so many chocolates with a great variety of flavors and textures, that I think my palate for chocolate has definitely expanded!


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And this was one of our favorites - chocolate covered potato chips!! YUM YUM YUM!!!

 


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Around the midpoint of our adventures, we ran into an ice cream stand, and we tasted a spoonful. I tried the chocolate brandy one, although the owner didn't seem too convinced that I was over 21 (HARHAR).

 

And then more chocolate!


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And, uh, Obama chocolate?

 

This was really cool - some students created Herald Square and Times Square with chocolate!


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These were also my favorite! Little candies that came in such beautiful tins and boxes from Maison Boissier.


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Contrary to its looks, these candies were very soft and chewy, though they kept sticking to my teeth.



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I didn't taste these... but I love the blue tin!! This candy reminded me of Charms Candy Sour Balls that our family used to enjoy years ago.

 


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These were a delight! The moment you chew on them, they would burst and fill your mouth with sweetness. These were very small, and the juice was very light and not too sweet, so my tongue wasn't overwhelmed with sugar.


And, of course, what do I find? MACARONS!!! There were about three booths that carried macarons.


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These were Francois Payard's macarons, which I had heard of before. I thought of getting these before I discovered this...

 


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Macarons from Chocolate Christophe Roussel. They had a variety of flavors, so I decided to get these instead. Looking forward to tasting these tomorrow (well, today)! For now, they are chillin' in my fridge.

 

And being the macaron nerd that I am...


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I got myself a book! A very thorough and comprehensive book on macarons... with NUMEROUS flavors and fillings, including four different ways of making macarons - the French style, Italian style, Swiss style, and a very quick and easy way to make macarons when you are short on time. Hopefully I'll review this book soon on this blog (crossing fingers).

 

Overall, the show was fun to look around, although I did get a bit sick of chocolate (I never thought this was possible for me) by the time I was through with looking at all the booths. Recommended if you love chocolate and would like to see and taste something different from your standard chocolate bars!

 

...and I should be packing, not posting on my blog. I HATE PACKING!!!


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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bouchon Bakery!

 

Bought myself some macarons this afternoon from the famous Bouchon Bakery!


I've been meaning to try these for over a year now, and since I'll be leaving the U.S. next week to work back home in South Korea, I decided now would be a good time to try them.

I've heard great reviews on these macarons, so I'm excited to taste how these are different from Ladurée! Stay tuned for reviews!


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Monday, November 7, 2011

[La Maison du Chocolat] All About Chocolate

 

Just a couple of weeks ago, my friend got assigned to another flight to NYC, so we had a nice, long date. We started off the day by eating ramen at Menkui Tei, and after doing some shopping, we decided we needed something sweet. My friend told me that after our experience at Ladurée, she got hooked onto macarons. Of course, that meant we had to have macarons. I yelped the nearest macaron shop, and since I hadn't tried this place before, we began to walk to La Maison du Chocolat.


The one we went to was at the Rockefeller Plaza, although there is one at Wall Street and another in the Upper East Side.

 


Apparently, this store's specialty was chocolate, so I was curious as to what kind of macarons it would carry.



Rows of macarons!!! I couldn't resist this scenery and took a picture, but a lady came up and told everyone, "No photography please." Meh.

 

I bought a box of 6, which cost a total of $16.50. That's $2.75 per macaron.


I got passion fruit, coffee, caramel, pistachio, raspberry, and lighter dark chocolate.




The colors are really pretty! Earthy colors, fitting to a store whose specialty is in chocolates.

What's unique about these macarons is that the fillings are all chocolate. However, they have incorporated various extracts into the chocolate according to its flavor - for example, the chocolate filling for the caramel macaron tastes like caramel. Also, I don't know if this is because the filling has melded and seeped into the macaron hats, but the hats have a strong flavor too.

Well, here goes the tasting!


First off, the lighter dark chocolate. Wasn't too unique, so I don't have much to say.



Next, coffee!! This was one of my favorites, as it had a nice, rich coffee flavor that wasn't too bitter nor too sweet.



Rasberry. I love berry-flavored chocolate, so this was also pretty good.



Passion fruit. Not a big fan of passion fruit - it has a sort of bitterness that I can't get used to.



Pistachio. Didn't taste much like pistachio, so it was a bit of a disappointment, since I love pistachio macarons.



Caramel! This was pretty good. I loved how the chocolate filling tasted like caramel and had a sort of gooey texture that is unique to caramel.


OVERALL


The macarons of La Maison du Chocolat were nice quality and tasted good. However, the store doesn't carry a great selection of flavors. I'm not talking about HOW MANY flavors, but the VARIETY. But then again, this place specializes in chocolate, thus the flavors are centered around that and the macarons are all filled with chocolate.

Besides the whole texture of the macaron hats, which is key to a great-tasting/feeling macaron, the fillings are what essentially delivers the flavors. So in that sense, I've become an anti-fan of chocolate ganache, which, with its strong flavor and sweetness, covers up other flavors. While La Maison du Chocolat incorporates different flavored chocolates to fill their macarons, chocolate is what you taste the most. As much as I am a lover of chocolates and macarons, I sort of got tired of eating these macarons.

But still, these are good macarons to have if you are craving something chocolatey! The next review will be on the macarons from Cha-An!

Sneak preview:


Filed in: Shop Reviews
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Afternoon Dessert

 

I decided that I needed a nice dessert before picking up my school transcripts and going to Macy's to buy some Lenox dinnerware.


Raspberry macarons with rose buttercream from Panya and hot black tea with milk with tapioca from Saint Alp's Teahouse! Yum yum-

Shop reviews for La Maison du Chocolat and Cha-An coming soon!


Filed in: randomness
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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

[Ladurée] Imported from France

 

Early September, while walking along the streets of the Upper East Side near the Guggenheim, I spotted a lady with a Ladurée bag. "Ladurée in NYC?!" I immediately took out my iPhone and searched online. (Ah, technology. Thanks, Mr. Jobs, RIP.) Turns out that the world-famous macaron shop opened up on Madison Avenue between 70th and 71st street late August. I knew I HAD to visit this place - I had only heard about their macarons through word of mouth and and through pictures. My friend and I strolled to the shop with anticipation.



(Oh, those pretty little macarons waiting to be taken home!)

 

Little did we know that we had to wait nearly over an hour to finally have our own little Ladurée bags. On top of the long line formed outside the pastel green doors of the shop, the tiny shop was packed with customers waiting both patiently and impatiently for their macarons. Being a macaron lover that I am, I decided to be more on the patient side of the wait, although my feet were quite aching by the time I walked out of the store with my Ladurée bag.



(Happy me, while waiting for someone to take my order)

 

The macarons were on the expensive side, with the price set for about $2.75 per macaron. The minimum is a box of 8, and I think I paid around $24 after tax. If you want the fancier gift boxes, the price really jumps.




But this is the basic box that you get, and I don't think it's bad itself.

 


And voilá! I got rose, pistachio, chocolate, and raspberry.

 


I think you can tell if macarons are authentic or not by the frills.

 


The macarons looked so delicate and fragile yet sophisticated, if that even makes sense.

 


Whatever the case, these macarons were beautiful!


 



The box also came with a piece of paper that listed the available flavors. I heard that "Caramel with Salted Butter" is really good, so I have yet to try that out.

 

 


Before indulging myself.



Perfection ♥ Thin, delicate shells with chewy insides, where the filling has perfectly melded the two hats together.

At first, I wasn't sure if it was worth the 1+ hour wait. But having tasted macarons from several other places, I guess these macarons aren't world-famous for no reason. The perfect size, texture, and colors with authentic, natural-tasting fillings - perfection is probably the right word. Each macaron tasted the way they should according to their names, with each flavor and fragrance pleasantly filling my mouth.

Still, I think the price is a bit on the expensive side. Sure, these are the real stuff from a shop with a long history, but still... nearly $3 for one macaron? Sigh... I heard that they bake the macarons in France and then bring them to New York - maybe that's why?

Anyhow, my verdict is 4.5 out of 5. Overall experience? Not sure if I want to wait another 1+ hour to get a box of 8, and the price definitely keeps you from indulging in these French sweets too often, but I can't deny the fact that the texture + taste is one of perfection. I definitely want to go back (when there's not much of a long line) and try out all the other flavors!

 


Filed in: Shop Reviews