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Chocolate Weekend NYC 2011 – Trip Report, Saturday Oct. 15th

Took NJ Transit into Port Authority arriving around 11:00am in the City.  Walked down to Meadow on 10th Street on Hudson.  Joe Salvatore from Madecasse Chocolate was listed to be there with no specific time and found out on arrival he will show up at 2pm and stay until 5pm.  Looked for a while at their amazing varieties of chocolates.  I had tried some of them and read about many others on the Internet.  Also learned there are many more out there I have never heard about.  I have researched most of the North and South American chocolate makers and find almost all of what I do not recognize are European made.  Bought a Dick Taylor, Dominican Rep.; Raaka, Dark with Sea Salt; Amano, Ocumare 70%; Taza Stone Ground 70%, and a Olive Sinclair, Stone Ground 75%.  They were $7-9 a bar and weighed between 2-3 oz. each.  Amano and Dick Taylor were the 2 oz bars.  I try to buy as much Dominican dark chocolate to compare it to what I am able to produce working with the farmers and women cooperatives near the San Francisco de Macoris area. 

 

From the Meadow I walked to Mariebelles on Broome near West Broadway and bought a Dark Aztec made with Columbian beans, 3.17 oz. for I think $5.  Good value and reminds me of Dominican chocolate.  The girl who works there told me about a Chinese women around the street on West Broadway who makes chocolate and shuts down after she has sold what she made that day.  I couldn’t find her this time and had to go. 

 

Stopped by Vosges and bought a Dominican Dark and hesitantly bought a Mo’s Dark which has bacon in it.   We tried a little after dinner with my nieces and we concluded it just makes it taste salty.  No bacon flavor and I prefer nibs for my crunch.

 

Then I made the walk down Houston to Cocoa Bar near Clinton Street, to get there around 1pm when Balman Soltani was listed as available to meet.  I walked in figured out who he was and showed him my chocolate paste, he asked me to sit down and ended up spending an hour and half speaking with him and his wife, Veronica.  I showed them what I bought at the Meadow, Mariebelles and Vosges.  Because they do not actually make the chocolate, I am not sure why I was asking them so many questions about the business but they were incredibly nice people and to be honest, it was wonderful to speak with them.  Veronica actually used to work for Kraft and is going to put me in contact with a person who manages the grading, separation and selection of the beans.  I am always trying to learn.

 

From the Cocoa Bar walked up to Gnosis Chocolates on 23rd near Park and saw Vanessa Barg who I met at last years chocolate show in NYC.  I gave her a four oz. ball of my unfermented Dominican chocolate paste last year and had a fermented one for her this year.  She liked the smell and tasted a little I had in powder form.  I like Vanessa because she is the only one who actually tastes my paste when I show it to her (and Clay also).  She was amazingly helpful and was teaching me a little more about the chocolate business. I love her chocolate and bought a dazzling darkness, 2 oz. for around $9 with a 10% discount.  

 

Then walked a short distance to 22nd and 5th, L'Atelier du Chocolat and little shop with mostly confections.  The Asian women working there asked me about what this chocolate weekend was and how I knew about it. They had a 68% Madagascar Vintage for 100g for $10.  She bragged about their pricing being modest for the quality they provide. I tried a little bit and it is good, not great and has nibs.  A little fruity at the end.

 

Walked across the street to the supply store and bought a few molds so I can practice at home and then down 22nd Street and 5th to Burdock.  Nice place and very busy around 4pm.  No discounts when I bought 6 single origin bars from Grenada, Bolivia, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Madagascar and Venezuela, 100 grams for $9 each and the Bolivian was $10.  Just tasted a little of the Dominican bar, also very nice.  A lot of flavors, starts out maybe tobacco and middle to end with a strong fruity flavor.  They list the notes as tea and banana.  It is better after the third try and lingers for some time.    I reminds me of the paste I tried at the Rizek laboratory in the Dominican Republic a few summers ago. 

 

From there I walked back to the Meadow and arrived little before 5pm and had a chance to spend some time talking with Joe from Madecasse.  Extremely nice person and learned a great deal of what it might take me to get into this business.  He had various samples and enjoyed tasting Madagascar chocolate.

 

Stopped by Jacques Torres at the Chelsea Market, said hi and asked how chocolate weekend was.  Had spent too much money already and my backpack was already full of chocolate so I continued up to Port Authority, hopped on a bus for my 20 minute ride to Ridgefield.   

 

Just tried the Raaka Dark with Sea Salt 71%, they list the notes as ripe raspberry, clove and citrus.  I will go with the clove and citrus, and maybe a banana like rather than raspberry.

 

Missed one, Chocolat Moderne on 20 between 5th and 6th on the 9th floor.  Very nice, was busy and bought a little box of dark confections for $15.  Gave it to my nieces.  She had generous samples and obviously loves her work.  I would love to spend a few days with her learning how to make confections.

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Comment by Thomas Forbes on October 20, 2011 at 9:42pm
I felt like extending chocolate weekend a bit and being on the upper East side this week, I stopped by Martines on 82nd between 1st and York after a number of people telling me about it.  Bought three dark truffles for a little under $9.  They were very nice.  I am afraid to start eating confections also.  Then I ventured over to La Maison du Chocolat and bought the only two single origin bars they had, $9 each plus tax.  The Grenada bar is a bit light on the notes but good.  The Ghana bar is much better , stronger flavor and some fruity notes at the end.  Michael spoke to me for a little bit and talked a bit about what I am doing in the DR.  He said Valrhona makes their bars with their specfications.  He gave me a Madagascar truffle that almost made me spend another $40 for a 18 piece of those.   Good chocolate.  For some silly reason I walked to 30 Rockefeller and went to another La Maison.  Made a mistake when looking things up on the net.  Spoke with a Bolivian born women there, she gave me a truffle and she told me Michael does "classes", the paper she gave me calls them tastings.   A little down 5th Avenue I happen across a Lindt store and checked it out.   Bought a little 1.2 oz Intense Dark for $1.25.  Not bad of a taste, especially for the price.
Comment by Stephan Barbier - Savorique on October 20, 2011 at 12:28am
Thomas, great recap of your Flatiron and Soho adventures! You seemed genuinely interested and have made the most of Chocolate Weekend. I went to similar places like Gnosis (who closed the 23rd St. location and is looking for a permanent storefront) and Chocolat Moderne in their Chelsea factory/boutique. In Soho I also recommend Xocolatti who just opened a few weeks ago and makes very creative chocolate. See you for the 2012 tour!
Comment by Solis Lujan on October 18, 2011 at 7:33pm
I will be in NY in a couple of weeks and will take your list with me...
Comment by Thomas Forbes on October 17, 2011 at 8:28pm
It was a weekend and spend Saturday walking probably 170 blocks hitting these places.  Lot's more to see.
Comment by Chocolate University Online on October 17, 2011 at 6:20am
It’s not very often that you get to devote one whole week just for a particular food. Suffice it to say, if the subject is chocolate, we get all the more devoted, and craving, so to speak. I myself want to have personally experienced what you did.

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