City Pulse

By Charu Suri

A chance to visit a show devoted to chocolate is like being offered a knighthood or a Nobel Prize: you simply don’t pass up the opportunity.

Chocolate has a myriad of uses (think comfort food, molé sauce…it was also used to represent blood in the famous shower scene in Hitchcock’s Psycho!). But let’s face it, if you’re a chocoholic like I am, it simply doesn’t matter how versatile it is, or what form of chocolate you choose to love. Truffles, macaroons and brownies are all fair game for your most indulgent cravings.

It’s little wonder that New York plays host to the nation’s largest homage to chocolate. The 9th Annual Chocolate Show was held at the Altman Building from November 9-12th, and brought together the best confectioners from Kyoto to Kansas.

The event kicked off with a fashion show in which models wore chocolate-studded clothing created by designers including Abaete, Adrienne Landau, Nicole Romano and Rafe. Each designer teamed up with a well-known pastry chef to produce chocolate inspirations that ranged from a headpiece modeled after New York skyscrapers, to a pair of angelic chocolate wings. With all those sumptuous aromas wafting over the crowd, I’m sure the models felt extra hungry that night.

The costumes were elaborate and painstakingly put together, and the models’ hair was done by Aveda’s stylists, and the makeup by Sephora. Creations included a mosaic-studded cashmere robe and a Marie Antoinette-inspired dress ruffled with chocolate lace and buttons. To view scenes from the chocolate fashion show, click on our video PODCAST.

The real treat was the maze of chocolatiers with their amazing confections on display for all to enjoy, taste and purchase. Ganache, ballotins, liquer truffles, chocolate-dipped fruit (even potato crisps!) and chocolate fountains all made their appearance, much to the delight of my sweet tooth and to the dismay of my Weight Watchers points.

Here are some of our top picks from the show. Mary Chocolatier (not to be confused with Mary’s Chocolates), from Belgium, made their United States debut at the chocolate show. The store in Belgium is appropriately located on Rue Royale, and is considered the holy grail of chocolate. Their confections are handmade and pricey, but they are listed in the “1,000 places to See Before You Die” guide, and may well be worth the cost. The web site, http://www.mary.be, even has a picture of President Bush visiting the store.

A surprising encounter was Hershey’s (http://www.hersheys.com) new “Cacao Reserve” chocolates, which also made their debut at the show. A self-proclaimed Hershey’s snob, I was wooed by their new dark chocolate squares, made up of 35%, 65% and 70% dark chocolate. Soon, they will be available at local stores so you can finally taste something delectable from the brand.

Other notables included Fairytale Brownies (http://www.brownies.com), whose twelve varieties of brownies is a perfect gift to give a hostess or co-worker; Marquise De Sevigne chocolates (www.marquise-de-sevigne.com) whose exquisite rococo packaging would make even Marie Antoinette drool; and Romanicos Chocolate (http://www.romanicos.com), whose 38-calorie truffles will fit into any dieter’s regimen without compromising on taste.

So though you may be thinking of basting that turkey, don’t forget to get that ever-popular crowd pleaser, chocolate. As Lucy Van Pelt says in the Peanuts comic strip, “All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt!”

Originally published November 2006
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