Tuesday, January 26, 2010

jacques torres chocolates

I was inspired after reading in the Los Angeles Times about Zoom Media Chocolate Tours in NYC (yes the Times good for something)...I decided I had to go on a Chocolate Tour myself. However, it was not to be. I could only go on a Friday, and because of the near-record cold and rain, not enough people signed up. Can you imagine? A little cold and rain getting between you and chocolate? So, I did what any self-respecting chocoholic would do: I laced on my clunky winter boots (this is because the heel snapped off on my stylish boots at the airport right after I stepped off the plane - dashing my dreams of looking cute in New York and leaving me looking like a crazy Chinese bag lady) and went on my own chocolate tour.

One of my stops was Jacques Torres. What was nice right off, was for the directionally challenged like me, were the gaily colored flags - announcing chocolate: you know immediately and unequivocally that you've come to the right place.

Jacques Torres BuildingThen, before you walk in, you get to peek in the windows and see real life chocolatiers, working away on mounds of delectable chocolate. By the time you've walked inside you are positively drooling and dizzy. It gives you the feeling of being in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, even though there are no squirrels shucking nuts - or Oompa Lumpas for that matter. But trust me on this one - you do get that feeling.

When you enter you see that the Jacques Torres store is delightful inside: full of gift boxes, a counter top of truffles and bon-bons, baked goods and a little espresso/hot chocolate bar. It's all the chocolate you could ever dream of - so you can OD on chocolate conveniently in a really adorable place.

Naturally, I had to sample all the truffles for the sake of Chocolate Grail and I was not disappointed. Jacques Torres makes a mean bon-bon. Each chocolate I sampled (before going into a chocolate coma) was wonderful - rich, creamy, with a deep chocolate taste. And what really special was that each flavor was intense: you don't need to consult the brochure or have a master palette. Yet, none of the flavors was so intense it overwhelmed the chocolate - a perfect balance. I also liked that there really is something for everyone, whether you like white, milk or dark chocolate.

Some of my favorites included: Ginger - fresh ginger root with a dark chocolate ganache, Cinnamon Praline - cinnamon ganache and ground hazelnuts; Pistachio Marzipan - homemade almond and pistachio paste; Wicked Fun - chocolate ganache spiced up with ancho and chipotle chilies; Golden Expresso - rich espresso with a touch of gold; and one of the Jacques Torres signature chocolates, Almondine - crushed candied almonds.

However, the two that knocked me off my feet were the Earl Grey (premium Earl Grey tea infused in a dark creamy center) and Fresh Coconut (fresh coconut suspended in white chocolate with dark chocolate). The latter was so creamy, so fresh I felt transported onto a sandy beach with palm trees fluttering ahead. And in this economy, that's a sweet deal.

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