I will start this post off by saying that I like chocolate…but I don’t love chocolate. At least not the same way that many others profess that they do. The Fella is one of those people, if a cake is not chocolate it is not worth eating. He would never dare to eat an apple strudel or slice of lemon meringue pie. So, many months back when I saw a Living Social deal for a chocolate tour of New York City I signed us up thinking we’d have a romantic day of desserts.
Fast forward to present day and I put off scheduling our tour because I was busy with work and now it’s expiring and the only day left is a Thursday and The Fella teaches at a local community college on Thursdays, so I took my non chocolate loving self and my non chocolate loving friend out for a romantic date of desserts.
I have never taken a walking tour before, but I was so incredibly impressed with my tour guide who appeared to know the entire history of New York and could rattle it off as we walked from shop to shop.
Facts like our meeting spot, Chelsea Market, the trendy mall/business venue that now hosts such places as Google, iVillage, and Oxygen used to be the National Biscuit Company factory and it was where the Oreo cookie was invented.
Oreos are New Yorkers!
He also told us that the structure is one of the oldest that remains from the early colonization of New York, similar to the cobble stone streets of the financial district (think Gangs of New York) and there are very strict zoning laws in those areas and that is why the street signs are black. I had never noticed that the street signs were black before, but now I’ll keep an eye out for that sort of thing.
Alex, our tour guide, looked like he was barely out of college. He also had a nifty French accent, and told us his mother is Italian and his Father, American, so that although he grew up in Paris he doesn’t have a French passport. If you’re looking to rob someone of their French passport, don’t choose him.
Our first stop was Jacques Torres for some Wicked Hot Chocolate
Super rich cocoa with cinnamon and chili powder
Our next stop was Li-Lac Chocolates which is one of the oldest chocolate shop in New York City, having opened in 1923.
While there we sampled the dark chocolate which was 74% cocoa.
I learned that there’s actually a correct way to eat dark chocolate; first bite off a small piece and let it sit on your tongue, roll it around a bit, then chew, then proceed to eat normally. Apparently chocolate is a lot like wine.
The next stop was Chocolate Bar for some sea salt chocolate.
This you don’t let sit on your tongue you just go right ahead and chew to break up the salt crystals.
This was at the top of my list for favorite chocolate experiences.
Our fourth stop was the original Magnolia Bakery.
Since Sex and the City featured this cupcake hub they’ve grown exponentially, popping up with shops all over New York City.
Honestly, I think the cupcakes are a bit over-rated…but that didn’t stop me from eating one.
Friends fans, this is the building used as the exterior for Joey, Monica, Chandler, Rachel, and Phoebe’s building.
The restaurant below, The Little Owl, is the inspiration for Central Perk.
I knew that before the tour, score one for Kim!
Our next stop was at Milk & Cookies Bakery for some double chocolate cookies
That’s my “I’m trying to look psyched about this cookie the size of my head, but I’m chocolate-d out” face
Random sculpture of Picasso’s second wife.
She looks like she was burgeoning on a sugar coma too.
This bakery was featured on Throwdown with Bobby Flay (my Food Network crush), and the cannoli’s here put Bobby’s to shame.
I have to agree, they were pretty excellent.
Our next stop, Xocolatti is owned by a 24 year old, and focuses on reimagining chocolate flavors.
You won’t find any milk chocolate bars here, they have things like basil and olive oil chocolate.
I was a bit nervous about trying the mango paprika white chocolate bark. I’m not exactly adventurous when it comes to sweets, but I was amazed.
This tiny nibble rocked my world. The paprika really compliments the buttery sweetness of the white chocolate and the crystalized mango really closed the deal in regard to taste bud bliss.
Dudes Chobani has a storefront shop! We didn’t go in it, but you can bet your sweet patooties that next time I’m in Soho I’m stopping by for some yogurt. My friend told me that they just opened and have specialized yogurt flavors. Consider my world rocked.
Our last stop of the day was Vosges. You may have seen their creative bars in Whole Foods. They’re the ones that make the bacon chocolate bar.
We tried a red pepper toffee that I wasn’t a big fan of.
They can’t all be winners.
I did make a friend there. Vosges gets an A+ for decorating.
As far as sweets go, I’m pretty sated for the foreseeable future. Despite the fact that for the most part a chocolate lovers tour is really wasted on me, I really enjoyed this experience. I think I’ll look for more walking tours to partake in. I have no shame about playing tourist in my own city.
For folks that may want to retrace my steps, the whole tour happened between the neighborhoods of Chelsea, the West Village, and SoHo. All are very close to one another.