So I finally did it – in honor of the blog I bought tickets, abandoned the husband and child, picked up a friend and headed for my first NYC food event, “The Chocolate Show“. Never having gone before, I really didn’t know what to expect. I had a lot of different pictures in my head, the best ones involving coming home with a bag full of goodies and having made a lot of contacts who would be interested in the blog. The reality, though, was a bit disappointing, but nevertheless, quite yummy. It was chocolate, after all……
The biggest negative for me, I suppose, was that at $40 a ticket, I expected to go home with a lot more swag. Most (although not all) had small plates out with samples and all of the tables were selling items. I was blown away to see that most of the items for sale were super expensive – with candy bars going for as much as 8 or 9 dollars a pop! I wound up buying only two things, one thing for my husband and one rather pricy thing that I don’t think I would have bought if it hadn’t been right after the two wine tasting tables. They were pouring some rather large samples (being far more generous than then most of the chocolate vendors), and the rather significant buzz loosened my purse strings somewhat. I’m not sorry I bought it, but as I walked through the city afterwards (more about that later), it was obvious that there were much more economically sound ways to push me further towards diabetes.
Secondly, it was the height of naivete and idiocy to think that I would be one of the few food bloggers there. On the contrary, it seemed like there were very few people there who was not a food blogger! I was constantly being shoved aside by people with cameras and I swear I saw more than one vendor roll their eyes. They had had enough of us and didn’t want to hear it. They weren’t impressed that I was going to write about them and they had no interest in my hastily printed business cards. It made me feel a little embarrassed, at least until the aforementioned wine tables. Perhaps it wasn’t the right first event for me – after all, I mostly write about NYC neighborhoods and the eating within, but I suppose the reality check was warranted.
Lastly, about 75% of the vendors weren’t all that impressive. I mean, chocolate is never bad, but there was very little there that was exceeding good or different enough to catch my attention – and where were my favorites? Where were the best of the best? I could not believe that Vosges wasn’t there – they would have stolen the show. And if the focus was on smaller companies, I can still think of a ton of smaller companies who are really pushing the boundaries of chocolate who weren’t represented. Where was Mast Brothers? Where was Liddabit or Taza? These are the people that are writing the book on new chocolates and sweets. I guess I expected a little more cutting edge.
That being said, there were a couple of tables that made the trip worthwhile. The first was Mariebelle. This was not a new company for me, and they’ve had a lot of press over the years thanks to Oprah, but there’s a reason she loves them. Their hot chocolate is divine, and it’s one of the few around NYC that reminds me of the stuff I got in Poland, which ruined me for American cocoa forever. This is not the kind of stuff you float mini-marshmallows in – this is the kind of stuff you drink out of little demitasse cups with perhaps just a dollop of barely sweetened whipped creme. This is the very definition of luxury. I think it says it all that I didn’t even remember to take a picture of the container………..
Another pleasant surprise was the truffles from No Chewing Allowed. They call it that because you are supposed to let them melt in your mouth and I tried, I really did. The flavor was really rich and pure and made your eyes roll back in your head a little bit. They come in some really cute tins, too and would be the perfect gift for the chocolate lover in your life.
One really big pleasant surprise for me were the Toasted Corn Dark Chocolate Bars from Eclat Chocolate. Everybody and their brother these days are sticking practically anything into chocolate bars to be new and original, not always to their benefit. This bar on the other hand was new and really delicious. The toasted corn was sweet and gave the bar just the right amount of crunch. It was a treat to try something new and yummy and was one of the highlights of the day for me.
Another lovely surprise were the cookies from Salt of the Earth Bakery. Their Choco-Rama cookie was chewy, slightly spicy and had just the right amount of saltiness from pyramidal Bali Rama sea salt (no, I don’t know what that is – it was just really good). I’m sorry I didn’t buy any but even if I had, they would be gone by now I would still be sitting here wanting more. I checked out their website and I have friends who’s mother lives by one of the stores in North Jersey who sells their stuff. I will be using that resource frequently.
After all the chocolate and wine and more chocolate, my friend and I were feeling a bit ill ( my heart was actually palpitating a bit by that point and I briefly considered the idea of medical attention). It seemed like the perfect time to take a walk around the city and see the sights. I had a blast showing my friend Eataly and we also enjoyed walking around the temporarily relocated Union Square Market. All their vendors were scattered around Madison Square Park, making the whole thing feel like an impromptu festival. I found an amazing bottle of apple wine from a place called Eve’s Cidery. Apparently they are serving this stuff in a lot of restaurants around the city, but you can’t get it anywhere around me in New Jersey. Next time I’m there – I’m getting two bottles – this stuff was great!
Then it was off to the East Village to eat. I was a little worried I find a deserted area due to the storm damage, but I was thrilled to see that not only was the neighborhood up and running, but it was packed full of people happy to be out and to support their local businesses. First we stuffed ourselves full of dumplings at the Dumpling Man (where for the first time I was able to restrain myself long enough to take a picture of the plate uneaten)……
Then we got a sample plate of hummus at Hummus Place. I had never tried them before and I really liked all the different varieties of hummus on the sample plate. It was the perfect dish for sitting and relaxing and chatting with friends.
By then we were ready for more sweets, so first I hopped next door to the Macaroon Parlour . I had been dying to try this place and I was so happy to see they were up and running after the storm. The people were very friendly and great to talk to and the macaroons were fantastic! I really loved the Elvis, which was peanut butter and banana. I wish I had brought a lot more home!
Then it was off to my beloved Big Gay Ice Cream Store. If there is anything I love more than eating a Salty Pimp, it’s introducing friends to a Salty Pimp. Sheer joy!
On the whole – a great day! I’m not going to give up on going to food events, but this day showed my that my true love is just walking around the city and discovering. In fact, we were way too full to try it, but the East Village now has a place that just serves pudding! I can’t wait for my next trip!