Sunday, January 22, 2012
Who Wins the Crown for the Best Hot Chocolate?
Only recently have I started getting into these NYC Food Crawls, participating in the last one back in December, where we were on the hunt for macarons. Well I had so much fun, making new foodie friends and tasting amazing things, that I decided to do it again this month. The theme of hot chocolate sounded delicious and impossible to turn down, so friends or no friends with me, I decided to just go for it.
Just like last time, all the crawlers met at an agreed spot, set by our organizer, Amanda. There we broke up into groups and received our location map, listing 5 intriguing hot chocolate haunts, located in the Soho area. Luckily, I'm pretty familiar with this neighborhood, so I was able to advise my group about the best order of our hot chocolate route. They seemed grateful and in the end, we found our strategy worked, as we got ahead of every larger group on the crawl and enjoyed these places without having to wait too long.
Here's where the hot chocolate route took us...
Ground Support - Realizing I must've passed by this place on many occasions, but for whatever reason failed to go in, I was excited to explore a new niche coffee house in the area. Although we came for the hot chocolate of course, it has to be noted that they also sell Intelligentsia Coffee, which is devine and originates from Chicago (my friends Kimberly and Jonathan turned me on to it). But back to hot chocolate...
Ground Support's hot chocolate looked anything but standard, elegant with a beautiful heart shaped foam on top. Its taste was nice and smooth, and not too sweet, which I liked. Some of my crawl companions noted that it was a little watered down, but I liked that it wasn't overly rich and would go back for another. 399 West Broadway, New York NY 10012. 212.219.8722
Vosges Chocolat - Oh yes...this place again. Some of you may have read my post a few weeks ago about the spicy hot chocolate I had there, together with my cousin Vicky, but in this visit, I tried the white Bianca Couture Cocoa. Its taste was unlike anything I've had before, and for something totally unique and un hot chocolate-like, I'd highly suggest it. Containing a citrus essence from the lemon myrtle (sort of like lemongrass) and a hint of lavender too, it was a sophisticated anti hot chocolate if you will. 132 Spring Street, New York NY 10012. 212.625.2929
Marie Belle - Almost on the same level of sophistication as Vosges, but maybe a little bit more even, Marie Belle's charming chocolate room provided us with a perfect little tasting of their signature Aztec hot chocolate. We all swooned over the first sip and the next few that followed, as we drained our cups and licked our lips with satisfaction. This was the real thing, with a deep, dark rich chocolate flavor that tasted almost more like a sauce. There was nearly no dilution of milk and a small portion went a long way. 484 Broome Street, New York NY 10013. 212.925.6999
Jacques Torres - After Marie Belle, we were off to Mr. Chocolate's place AKA Jacques Torres. Known for incredibly rich, and excellent quality chocolate, we had high hopes, but at the same time, I knew it wouldn't be as unique as a Marie Belle's, as it's quite commercial.
Upon entering the store, which also has a chocolate factory attached to it, we were astounded by how crowded it was. No matter, we were already here and we wanted what we came for. Impressed by all the flavors of hot chocolate they had, we ordered a caramel and a peanut butter hot chocolate. I'm disappointed to report that both looked an tasted exactly the same, and I simply couldn't detect the peanut butter flavoring at all. Its taste was very delicious and creamy, however I saw it was made with a lot of butter, as a layer of grease was visible at the top. My crawl companions loved it though and said some even tasted the peanut putter. Maybe a placebo effect? I don't know...350 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014. 212.414.2462
Little Cupcake Bakeshop - I liked that this location was off the beaten path, and like its name suggests, it was a charming cupcake shop with many creative flavors of cupcakes (none of which were small). There's only one hot chocolate flavor here, and it comes with marshmallows. It reminded me of Ground Support's a bit, in that it was lighter and not as thick as Marie Belle's or Jacques Torres'. The marshmallows were lovely and I was glad they finally made an appearance on our tour. As I took my last few gulps of chocolatey goodness, I concurred it was a good way to end our chocolate journey, with something a little lighter and more nostalgic. 30 Prince Street, New York NY 10012. 212.941.9100
So which one takes the crown, you ask? Marie Belle hands down!
If you'd like to join a future NYC Crawl, sign up for their Facebook alerts, and I hope to run into you there. A big shout-out to my new hot chocolate friends Sarah, Ben and Marina!