Chocolate, Cheese and Wine: A Celebration of Taste



Alexandra Leaf

Is it possible to have too much chocolate at one sitting?  I wouldn’t have thought so, but I must confess that I now know the answer is yes. Even if the chocolate is all delicious. Think of the Halloween sack, or hollow pumpkin, or UNICEF box in which you deposited your treats. If you ate them all at once you’d feel a little – say- overwhelmed.

And so it was this evening. But I’m glad I came.

The 92Y had issued a generous invitation to foodies:  “Join us for this walk-around pairing, featuring an array of hand-crafted chocolates, cheeses, pastries and wines.”

“Meet local producers, increase your knowledge of artisanally-made foods, and seek inspiration for your holiday table.”

It did sound wonderful. Unfortunately or fortunately, the spread was almost entirely of chocolate. Hand dipped chocolate. Chocolate brownies. Hot chocolate.  Chocolate martinis More little ovals and squares with cunning little sprinkles of things on top. True, some bonbons were paired with chucks of very aged Gouda, which was a great idea since the intensely salty cheese took the edge off the eternal sweet things. . And there were some wonderful wines and mixed drinks in the center of the room to which you could repair.

Note, I’m not complaining. I wish I had been able to eat each one of my chocolates, leave, take a turn around the block and come back in. But no dice. The Y treated this event with the gravity and officiousness (and possibly, concern for security) that it would treat piano recital- tickets, lines, guided tours up the stairs (not the elevators) and a sharp eye on the participants. So there we all were with our chocolates.  A difficult fate.

The two stars of the evening were Fairway’s Master Baker Sarah Black and Costas Mozouras, Resident Mixologist of Gotham Wines and Liquors. Sarah Black was there to share the  secrets of The Best Brownie in the World.

Sarah Black and Fairway Market are not shy about advertising  its delicious Brownies.  “Kosher under the Supervision of Rabbi Abraham Marmorstein;  Artisanal Baked Goods, passed down three generations from Pauline LaMarche to her daughter Ann Black to her daughter Sarah Black, Fairway’s Baker Director. Offering the best brownie to the best market in the world to customers who know what the ‘best’ means. ”

It was truth in advertising.

And best of all, Fairway/Black customers were cordially  invited to sample a brownie and take one home for a friend.  It was a hit. This take home brownie was solemnly pronounced –if not  the best, right up there close to the top. It disappeared within two minutes. Even the cats sampled the crumbs and pronounced themselves pleased., wandering about looking longingly for more.

Costas Mozouras,  resident mixologist of Gotham Wines and Liquors, accompanied by Mixologist Raoul Segarra,  occupied  the tables in the center of the room the room.  The seductive sounds of shaken ice and liquor drew all.

Imagine that- the star of the show was a wicked- white chocolate martini, with chocolate infused gin (I think) and white chocolate gently dusted around the rim of the glass, It was so very good it was hard not to stay close to the tables for the rest of the evening.

Flanking the martini were the wines.  I picked a Pinot Noir to sample from Gotham Wines’s extensive selections. A Daedalus Pinot Noir 2008 From Willamette Valley, Oregon. It was light  and subtle and best of all, dry- no sticky sweet aftertatste after all the many sweet things I’d imbibed.  It deserved a fine meal to complement it.

Cafe, O CAFÉ,  the first coffee bar in New York to serve coffee brewed  from the highest quality Brazilian beans, also had a fine spiel:   “We make the Big Apple a Green Apple.”

Café owner Fernando Aciar’s just-launched a Brazilian café.   Brazil offers  extraordinary potential for the production of rare coffee beans,  yet to be discovered by the mainstream coffee market.    The café offers you  the opportunity to   “Pair a Bahian chocolate-infused latte with savory pão de queijo, a toothsome roll made from yucca flour and Minas cheese. Come spring, refresh with superfruit (açai, cupuaçu) pulp juices sourced from the Amazon.”

With O Café, I  believe, it was pastries. Undoubtedly they were wonderful. I was a little dazed by this time.

Chocolat Moderne’s Chocolate Atelier is staging a “bloody good time” now, for Halloween, through tonight.   They advertise “bloody hearts, new pumpkin pie bonbons, and new fiendishly hot drinking  chocolate.”

Go, you will not be disappointed.

While the atelier’s chocolates were utterly delicious, the not too sweet hot chocolate was quite wonderful on a very unseasonably cold night.  It also took the edge off the many sticky sweet things I had tasted that evening. I’d happily have gulped it- instead, the piping heat meant that I had to sip it slowly.  Just as well.

Mille Feuille Bakery Café. I’ d say this was the top of the line:  fine French goods. Chef Olivier is obsessed with pasty. “He spent a year at the famous Ritz Cooking School in Paris where he learned how to make delicious pastry During a trip to New York City  in 2009, Olivier and his wife fell in love with this incredible city and conceived of a project: a French style bakery with the homely and welcoming atmosphere of a Village café that would offer French and American pastries with a fine taste, using organic and all-natural products – a combination of the French touch with American openness. “

Macarons, breakfast pastries, dessert pastries- the menu is packed with sweets as well as genteel French lunch and dinner fare. This is one follow-up trip I feel I owe to myself.

Finally another chocolate fest.  R+D Chocolate, which stands for “research and development” — our approach to chocolate making, the result of a Ph.D. in bioengineering, years of training as a research scientist, and an obsession with chocolate.”  “It also stands for “rachel and david Gordon.”

Their pr is truly poetic.  “we turned to making our ideal chocolates. We are obsessed with (dark) chocolate and chocolates that are wholesome, pure, and overwhelmingly satisfying. These are chocolates that are not too sweet, that capture the essence of their ingredients. All of our products are made by hand (by Rachel).    We use only the highest quality ingredients, including locally produced ingredients whenever possible, and we make everything to order in small batches. “

These chocolates were magnificent. I was again tempted to keep hovering but collected myself and bag and made tracks.

As a final treat here is the irresistible abridged list of the flavors one can sample while also suggesting new and different flavors of one’s own.

“Current Menu (all coated in 72% Dark Chocolate unless otherwise specified):

72% Araguani chocolate ganache

Fleur de sel caramels

Raspberry ganache

Lemon verbena ganache

Elderflower ganache

Passion fruit ganache

Chocolate mint ganache

Strawberry pâte de fruit

St. Germain ganache

Lagavulin 16 yr scotch ganache

Black raspberry ganache…………………………………..”




  1. David says:

    Acai & dark chocolate…

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