Wednesday, May 04, 2005

There's Always Room For Chocolate

Lately, I've heard more than one person tell me that they just don't like chocolate. I think they're mad—in the British sense of the word. Plum loco crazy. And because of their affliction, I feel most sorry for them. Chocolate is the food of the gods. The Mayans are believed to have made drinks from it as early as 900 B.C. The Aztecs followed shortly thereafter. A few thousand years later, modern chocolatiers are perfecting the art of the chocolate confection throughout the world, and some of the best artisans reside in New York.

Happily, the friend I visited on my recent trip to The City is also a chocolate lover. Together, we have visited Vosges, MarieBelle, Jacques Torres, Jacques Torres Haven, and many of the other small chocolateries around New York. Looking at chocolate is pure bliss. Eating it, divine. When my friend told me that a new chocolate dessert shop had opened up near her apartment in Brooklyn, we were both dying to try it, and one night we did.

We wandered into The Chocolate Room around 9:30 p.m. on Sunday night. One of the beautiful features of New York is that it is built around late nights, early mornings, and everything in between. It seems like nothing closes there, except the museums, which are always closed when I want to go. So the fact that this little slice of chocolate heaven was still open felt like kismet.

The Chocolate Room is a small establishment with a glass counter up front selling gorgeous and delectable truffles and treats, and a soda fountain-style counter at the back where the pastry chefs hide and Willy Wonka their way into our hearts and minds. Since we were coming from dinner, and were stuffed to the gills, we only had room for a few truffles each. Initially, we thought we'd share. But upon further investigation, we decided it was wise to each get our own, as our tastes are different and, well, sharing is for children whose parents force them to.

It was next to impossible to choose from the wide selection of different tastes and flavor combinations, but we managed. My selection is on the top, in all its dark chocolate glory. My friend's selection is on the bottom. She is the more egalitarian of the two of us; an equal opportunity enjoyer, if you will.

Of the three that I chose, my favorite was Donna. The truffle genius names his truffles after women friends. I wonder if he's married, because I am available, and I promise not to get jealous. Donna is a sexy vixen, with a daring blackcurrent ganache inside. If I were a truffle, I would contain a blackcurrent ganache as well. Or perhaps apricot. But we'll get to that in a second. The tall tower was amazing, hiding a red chili and tangerine ganache. Her name is Patricia. She's a spicy little number. Kelly, the triangular truffle, was filled with a strawberry, lemon, and thyme ganache. Kelly was my least favorite, but I would still see her again.

Charming and comfortable, with a relaxed and knowledgeable waitstaff, The Chocolate Room is what I imagine when I think of opening my own dessert shop some day. I would change it a bit to reflect my own personality, but overall it was exactly what I hoped for. A respite from the noise of the city. A place where chocolate is king. And queen. And they rule together, benevolently.

As we were leaving, and I paid the tab, I noticed some bistro bars sitting next to the truffles in the glass counter. I swear they saw me first. Chatting with the proprietress, I asked after the bars, inquiring which of the apricot caramel or grapefruit caramel filled dark chocolate bars was better. "Oooo, that's tough," she pondered. "Hmmmmm...." It was as if she was mentally tasting them again in her mind. "I can't decide," she said. "You should get both," our waiter replied. "You won't regret it." Well, I never regret a chocolate purchase, so I put the dilemma to rest and got one of each.

The apricot bar made it all the way back to LA with me, but the grapefruit bar found a home on my friend's pillow, as a tiny token of thanks for hosting me over the long weekend. Last night, as I slumped onto the couch after arriving home, I tasted the apricot bar to reward myself after my long trip. It is chocolate perfection. An amazing combination of sweet, apricot goodness infused with a hint of caramel. Not too much, which is good, because I don't like caramel very much, and I was hoping for the tart taste of fruit to contrast with the smooth dark chocolate. It's jammy and thick, with just the right amount of ooze. One square is good, two exquisite, and the third square's the charm. I am hooked. I recommend rushing out and buying some right now.

The Chocolate Room
86 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217

Chocolat Moderne
Order online, or visit a retailer in your state.


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