Many chocoholics in the New York metro area know that the sweetest part of autumn isn't Halloween or Thanksgiving; it's the New York Chocolate Show, an outpost of Paris's Salon du Chocolat, coming up soon from November 10-12.
We've written up this show for the past few years, so you may remember that we have a slightly unhealthy fixation on a certain chocolate fountain at the show (and tend to daydream about it during important editorial meetings). The fountain will be back, along with the countless varieties of chocolate samples and products, available at over 65 booths at the Metropolitan Pavilion and adjacent Altman Building in New York's Chelsea neighborhood. (It adds up to an impressive 40,000 square ft. of chocolate.) Brands range from the French François Pralus (www.chocolats-pralus.com) to Japan's exquisite Mary's Chocolates (www.mary.co.jp) to New York shops such as the gourmet-hipster Chocolate Bar (www.chocolatebarnyc.com) and the always-fresh Peanut Butter & Co (www.peanutbutterco.com). You'll find dark and milk chocolate, green tea chocolate and curry chocolate, and all-things chocolate-covered, including figs, potato chips, and even models (at the November 9th Chocolate Fashion Show) -- plus cooking demonstrations, cookbook-signings, and kids' activities. Almost everything from previous years will return, with some new items that we're guessing will mostly be sweet and delicious and occasionally in the shape of an edible brassier. (You won't find that at a chowder festival.)
We're also pleased that the show's organizers have once again given us a 40% reduced ticket price, good for the Friday, November 10th show after 3pm only. (The Friday show runs until 9pm.) Enter the code FRMS1006 at ticketmaster.com, and you'll pay $15 for each adult ticket (normally $25), good for up to 2 tickets per order. Or bring a printout of this article and buy discounted tickets directly at the show (bring 1 printout per adult). The show is free for your first 2 kids under age 12, and $8 for additional kids ages 5 to 11.
All the booths offer free samples about the size of a quarter, but you'll easily spend your saved bucks for a few of the larger treats and bars, most $3 to $6. Gift boxes typically run $10 to $50 or more.
Philadelphia-based John & Kira's Chocolates (www.johnandkiras.com) infuse their chocolates with fresh, organic ingredients. The "Garden Mint" alone will make you feel you've never tasted a mint chocolate before. Other flavors include "Bergamot, "Papohaku Farm Ginger" and their new "Fall Fig Pumpkin Bon Bons," with prices starting at $28 for a 15-piece box.
A small company called Gold Star Chocolate usually offers a great deal on one of the show's best truffles -- $12 for 2 large boxes of the dark, buttery Cemoi Truffes Fantasie, each coated in fresh cocoa powder. We've been ordered to ship a few boxes to our editor in San Francisco.
More and more brands are highlighting the cacao percentages in their chocolate, including Michel Cluizel (www.cluizel.com), whose bars range from 33% to a pimple-popping 99%. (Cluizel also labels by plantation, from "Concepcion" in Venezuela to "Mangaro Noir" in Madagascar.) We're wondering how the new Hershey's Cacao Reserve (www.hersheys.com/cacaoreserve), including a 65% bar with "Cacao Nibs," will hold up next to the French heavyweights.
The Chocolate Fountain (www.thechocolatefountain.com), the stuff of our daydreams mentioned above, is a small, gurgling, 3-tiered milk chocolate fountain that's available for party rentals. For $3 you can swipe a stick of marshmallows under it, plate it, and eat it. It's not the show's most refined chocolate but a thrill nonetheless.
Cooking demonstrations will be given by a who's who of New York's pastry chefs, from François Payard (www.payard.com), Saturday at 2pm, to Kate Zuckerman of Chanterelle (www.katezuckerman.com), Sunday at 4pm. Non-dessert creations include a "caramelized chocolate vinegar sauce" for beef short ribs, from Chez Pascal's Matt Gennuso (www.chez-pascal.com), Sunday at 3pm. We're also curious about Brasserie 8 1/2's Martin Howard (www.martinhowardcakes.com), Friday at 7pm, whose demo will "feature the antics of Chocolatina, Queen of the Dessert."
Remember that just eating chocolate is apparently passé now, so watch for chocolate-infused oil paintings and chocolate sculptures, which you can enjoy while you sip chocolate cocktails from the "Chocolate Lounge." Ongoing cocktail demos in the lounge include rum and chocolate pairings with Del Posto's sommelier, Cynthia Goddeau (www.delposto.com), Sunday 4:15pm. Elsewhere you'll find a chocolate kimono and a few cocoa butter-infused facial creams in the "Chocolate Spa" area. If your kids pick up on this idea that actually digesting chocolate is boring and they want to make some chocolate crafts, they can do so in the "KidZone" ($1 to $5). Try chocolate painting classes daily at 1pm and 4pm, and a Girl Scouts cooking class daily at 11:30am, 12:30pm, and 5:30pm (register and pay in advance, on site).
All of the high-concept creativity peaks at the opening night Opening Night Preview & Chocolate Fashion Show, Thursday, November 9, from 7:30 to 10:30pm ($200, $150 tax deductible), which benefits The Felix Organization (www.adopteesforchildren.org). Designers stitch couture out of chocolate bars, chocolate beads, and molded-chocolate hats and handbags -- with results that are inspired, but maybe not so shocking after 3 seasons of Project Runway. (Appropriately enough, Austin Scarlett contributed a design last year; Michael Kors would have chided him for using too little chocolate.) If you skip the opening night, you'll see all the costumes on mannequins at the show, and kids especially will get a kick out of the kooky creations.
Just don't be surprised if they try to turn their next Snickers bar into a bracelet or a tube top.
Call 866/CHOC-NYC or log onto www.chocolateshow.com.
Hours: November 10, 11am to 9pm; November 11, 10am to 8pm; November 12, 10am to 7pm. The Metropolitan Pavilion and Altman Building are located at 125 West 18th Street, between 6th & 7th Avenues. Take the 1/9 subway train to 18th Street and walk east. By bus, take the #5, 6, 7, or 10 to 18th Street.
Visit www.salonduchocolat.fr for more information on the Salon du Chocolat in Paris (October), Tokyo (January), Beijing (June), and Moscow (December).
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