Elemental Chocolate: Fika's Earth, Wind, Fire, Water
Don't call too early in the morning, he had told me. It was going to be a late night.
Actually, that was yesterday. The party was two nights ago. But here I am, up early, a day behind, trying to catch up before the sun comes up. So I won't bother Håkan Mårtensson, Culinary Olympian and colleague of Patrick Roger in chocolate sculpting. Instead, I'll recreate the experience from memory. It was freezing, the ice core of the New York winter, and I walked through the glass doors of the newest Fika at 450 Washington Street in Tribeca to find the crowd sipping from champagne flutes, warm and aglow. "I write about chocolate," I said to Mårtensson. "Come with me." More a Hunter S. Thompson-invented candyman than a Muppets character, this particular Swedish Chef has taken what began as a Northern European espresso bar and turned it into one of the most memorable chocolate--to use his word--experiences in New York.
The four elements. This is Mårtensson experiential creation. I wasn't supposed to know what I was eating. I was supposed to follow instructions, give in to sensations. Earth: put the bon bon in your mouth, don't do anything, the tempered chocolate resists any change at first and then starts to melt away, a gravelly hazelnut praline takes over. Wind: I was supposed to crush the bon bon with my teeth and let the flavors fly past me--I did, I can't remember what I was tasting. Fire: Chew, wait, the chile volcano burns down your throat. Water: the prettiest one, white chocolate with waves of blue, coquettishly pastel or dangerously incandescent, it's hard to tell--sea-salt caramel with more honest taste of the sea than you expect, you just approach it with your tongue and the tsunami hits you.