Sunday, February 12, 2012

Timely Chocolate: Valentine's Day in New York

Last year at this time, I took my first annual Chinese New Year pilgrimage through lands foreign and familiar, ending up in Washington, DC, where I contemplated Steve DeVries's favorite pizza and was generously received by the patient proprietor of what was then Biagio Fine Chocolate.  I hear that Biagio himself (always on the move as a flight attendant) has turned over the keys to the shop, now called Cocova, to someone else while his chocolate colleagues look on to see where he'll land next.

My own mileage-heavy route this month, my second holiday-season hiatus from Mainland China, has taken me to a couple of new places.  It's possible that I sampled Sinn für die Sinne's fudgy and figgy truffles at the Winterfeldplatz farmer's market in Berlin and overheard a couple of Bay Areans discussing the merits of the new confections from Miette's Hayes Valley shop all in one week.  And I ended up at home in New York, once again seeking out the best pizza in a ten-mile radius while chatting with the enthusiastic owner of a novel chocolate emporium--this time, the new Chocolate Earth, owned by Conrad Miller.  The first time I met Conrad, when he was working at a Michel Cluizel outpost downtown, he took me on a free chocolate tour of the city.  The second time we met, when he was behind the counter in the Vosges outpost on the Upper Eastside, he politely asked me not to take photos and I was characteristically grumpy about it online--but not only did he not hold a grudge, he even volunteered to stealthily deliver a set of documents for a project I was working on to a top secret office at UN Plaza several months later.  This time, he calmly ambled trough explanations of the "top-down/bottom-up approach" to his new business ("I'm trying to use technology to blur the line of open hours") and of his libertarian politics ("we have a robot army--let's use the robot army").  He also showed up with a new licorice "dark milk" chocolate bar from Askinosie (I prefer the subtle flavor of the anise seed sprinkled on the bar to the licorice itself, but I can image lots of candy-loving Dutch people celebrating the new fusion) and a variously spiced milk chocolate from ki'XOCOLATL in Mexico, representing two of the fifteen or so brands of chocolate bars he stocks for wholesale, retail, or in between sales (Conrad offers himself up as a consultant, or chocolate factotum).  Rounding out the inventory are Dick Taylor, Potomac, Patric, Artisan du Chocolat, Original Beans, and Amedei.  You can catch a close-up view of the shop in Brooklyn's Dumbo online, which is lucky for me because I don't think I'll make it down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass before I have to head back to China for the year of the Dragon on February 14.  But for those of you who are more traditional and less peripatetic, Conrad's recommendation for the perfect Valentine's gift is "Five awesome bars from Chocolate Earth--and you'll only pay for four of them."

Chocolate Earth also carries notebooks and even lamps made from the leaves of the cacao tree but not many bon bons and filled chocolates with a short shelf-lives.  Though if he did, I'd recommend he start with a few that have caught my eye and/or tongue lately: the Frangelico truffles from Mariebelle, the reliable Kimono Collection from Chocolat Moderne, and the Hearts and Arrows box from Michael Recchiuti, which you can have shipped from San Francisco before 11am on Monday to arrive in New York on Tuesday.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to have missed you this visit. Hope our paths cross soon.

10:23 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Stacy said...

These are some of my favorite chocolates...

10:21 PM GMT-5  

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