To Hong Kong and Back Again: Big City Chocolate
I like to say that where I live is a two-hour train ride from Hong Kong. The truth is that the trip usually takes two subways (and the accompanying suffocating crowds) in Guangzhou, one train to the wacky frontier town of Shenzhen, a voyage through a seemingly endless network of escalators and walkways leading to an immigration checkpoint more or less in a subway station, and then rides of a couple of different Hong Kong metros before arriving in the central district of the city aptly named Central. What's more, the city of Hong Kong (much like the city of New York) seems to levy some kind of mystical financial capital tax of exactly twice the amount of money I intend to spend on any particular trip. But there are advantages to being on that side of the border, among them that Google is efficient and uncensored. In fact, it was the artificially intelligent Google, not a savvy expat or coffee-stained issue of Time Out Hong Kong, that pointed me toward Epoch Desserts on Star Street. Star Street is a sort of planned community of boutiques and happy-hour bars behind the one of the three Pacific Place office tower behemoths. Epoch serves and epic seven-layer chocolate cake, each layer made with Valrhona chocolate, the old artisan standby and really the best option for baking again now that Scharffen Berger's fine edge of flavor has been sanded off in the Hershey factories. They also serve two varieties of hot chocolate, a regular and a light (the shop attendant described the light variety as "chocolate mixed with milk" and I asked "isn't the regular hot chocolate mixed with milk, too?" and she said yes and looked confused--but you get the idea). If you want to do a live-action google search of chocolate outlets in Hong Kong, you could wander down Star Street from Epoch to find the little art gallery and culture library run by the designer agnes b., which might, in turn, turn you on to the various other agnes b. operations in town, including a couple agnes b. Delices shops that serve elegant little pastries a roster of ginger- and coconut-spiked hot chocolates (that the staff will pour over ice for you during these summer months).