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Jacques Torres Chocolate & Chocolate Haven


ahr
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Dr. Atkins forgive us, a friend and I spent a long, languorous, sugary afternoon yesterday at one of the two tiny tables (three, actually, but one is used for display) in M. Torres’ sunny storefront. Both the kitchen and the old, industrial waterfront backstreet were visible through large windows.

APPETIZERS.  Crisp, flaky, tender, buttery chocolate and cheese breads, and croissants. It might be worth arising early to try them first thing in the morning, fresh out of the oven. Large cups of regular and spicy (chili and nutmeg?) hot chocolate, frothed at the cappuccino spigot, more a beverage and less a confection than at my other favorite, Payard, which serves tiny shots of what I recall as little more than melted chocolate and cream.

MAIN COURSES.  A tasting menu of one of each available dark-chocolate item, plus two special truffles of the day (a chocolate rum and a fresh orange), served, Zen-like, on a sort of sushi stoneware platter. Though memories of La Maison are too distant (three months) to compare the quality of the chocolate itself, the style was very different (more American?) and the fillings amazingly fresh-tasting and intense, particularly the fruit and ground-nut candies and an unusual and delicious Earl Grey tea. (I came to this conclusion before reading the brochure, which emphasizes freshness and concentration. It was fun, though, to identify each chocolate by its picture and study its contents at the table.) Also, excellent cappuccino, distinguished for me by not being overloaded with milk.

DESSERTS.  See Appetizers and Main Courses, above.

Take-out nut bark, candied ginger, and chocolate-coated almonds have yet to be sampled. The vibe is cheerful and friendly.  Additional baked goods are reputed to be available Saturday mornings. The good Dr. Atkins would be proud after all; before leaving, we took our vitamins.

In the evening, we had a lovely dinner at Le Gigot, but I haven’t the energy to write it up now – sugar shock, no doubt.

Jacques Torres Chocolates

La Maison du Chocolat

"To Serve Man"

-- Favorite Twilight Zone cookbook

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ahr--I'm glad to hear your report about Jacques.  I've admired him for so long.  He is also innovating in several areas worth drawing attention to--one, by using an expensive vacuum mixer, which allows him to extend shelf-life yet retain flavor naturally, without adding preservatives and two, by paying meticulous attention to hygiene.  Did you know he had an automatic locking system installed in the staff restroom that requires hands to be washed with soap before opening the door?

How were the menus priced and offered?  Was there an actual "tasting menu?"

What kind of foot traffic was there while you were there?

And you mention sugar shock--were things a bit sweeter than your palate prefers?

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Did you know he had an automatic locking system installed in the staff restroom that requires hands to be washed with soap before opening the door?

That might be an interesting Goldbergian contraption to see.  Potential visitors please note: There appears to be no customer-accessible restroom.

How were the menus priced and offered?  Was there an actual "tasting menu?"

The tasting was my own idea ("one of each dark chocolate, please, plus those cute little truffes"), though the presentation was the house's.  Shall we suggest suggest a dark flight, a milk flight, a paired comparison menu for each filling available in both dark and light, and so forth?  Prices felt moderate -- each chocolate was $0.80 (though the thin butter crunch came in pairs), and the baked goods, I think, $1.50 each.

What kind of foot traffic was there while you were there?

The second table was occupied for about one hour on a Thursday afternoon from 12:30 through 3.  Counter traffic, of course, came in clumps, but on average I'd say that there was one person being served at most times.  Last week, on the walking trip described earlier in this thread, I found Valentine's business queued out into the street.  I also understand that mornings and Saturdays see more Continental-breakfast traffic.

And you mention sugar shock--were things a bit sweeter than your palate prefers?

By absolutely no means; the comment was facetious.  I've been on a weight-loss regimen the principal principle of which is the avoidance of sweets, so this was like a brief but delightul visit to a foreign land.

"To Serve Man"

-- Favorite Twilight Zone cookbook

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  • 3 months later...

The July 2002 edition of Food & Wine mentions Jacques Torres' Brooklyn chocolate shop. The website, with certain products offered for sale by mail order, is:

www.mrchocolate.com

As members know, Torres used to be Le Cirque's pastry chef.

Have members sampled Torres' chocolates?  :wink:

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Ive been to the shop on a few occasions to visit Jacques and Kris....Ive sampled a few of their line..the one that stands out (waaaay out) in my head is the chocolate infused with Earl Gray (Grey?) Tea.  The shop is very nice...there are a few tables/chairs where you can sit and enjopy a cappuccino and croissant, and an ample supply of Jacques books are available for purchase.

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I'm apparently also more expert in finding old posts than the eGullet or Google search engines, both of which failed miserably.  See Torres discussion from February for my impressions.

Note to Jason: We know about the built-in engine, but what about Google?  Is there something about the structure of IB that makes it unindexable, or the fact that the boards were recently reorganized?  Even a search for "plotnicki site:egullet.com" came up with only a handful of entries.

"To Serve Man"

-- Favorite Twilight Zone cookbook

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I must agree with nyfirepatrolchef_10-26.  In sampling almost every dark chocolate on the stand, the one that superbly stands out is Earl Grey Tea.  The other types that leave everlasting memories are also chocolate with fruit fillings as other combinations may not be as distinguished in comparison with other chocolate shops like La Maison (my preference for nut and ganache enriched chocolates) even though AHR may disagree.

I also didn’t find the hot chocolate to be as satisfying as at Payard, though the spicy version was more interesting.  The consistency of the hot chocolate was lacking enough chocolate texture and was way too sweet for my taste.  The croissants we had were not right out of the bakery and therefore may not be fairly judged, but the impression left was “reasonably good”.  

The place is tiny, cozy, welcoming and chocolate smelling, and for some of us, that may be just enough for a “must visit”.

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Nina, we actually sampled the spicy and regular hot chocolate and found them both too sweet.  Interestingly though, as I recall now, the spicy one seemed to be even more cloying sweet.

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  • 4 months later...

The November/December 2002 Departures magazine notes the following: "In his new Bin 27 port-flavored truffles, the silky, almost bitter chocolate ganache filling is a perfect foil for syrupy, cassis-scented port (Fonseca Bin no. 27). Excellent on their own, they are even better with a glass of you-know-what."

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At the Aspen Food & Wine Festival this year, Jacques' station had a tray of small bittersweet chocolate cups. He took your hand, placed a dab of chestnut honey below the junction of thumb and forefinger, and gave you a chocolate cup filled with port. Lick the honey, toss down the port, eat the cup. Chocolate shooters! Spectacular. [Not to mention the frisson of having hunky Jacques smear honey on your skin... :wub:]

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There's a picture of the Torres Chocolate shop in NY Times on Thursday, and a brief mention in the article

It's in the context of the surging real estate development in Dumbo. Properties which were squatter dwellings are now millionaire lofts, etc.

Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

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We bought spicy hot chocolate (both the mix and by the cup) directly from Jacques at last years chocolate show. He was a riot:

*in French accent*

"Men, buy eat my chocolate. the ladies will love you. Ladies, beware. I'm drinking saome now. "

LOL.

BTW, the chocolate show is the weekend of 11/15 this year. www.chocolateshow.com.

-Jason

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  • 2 weeks later...
I bought 1/4lb of assorted Milk chocholates last week, and I think they were some of the best I have ever had.  I also bought some sort of a frosted brownie and that was very good too.

I have certainly gone there on an off day.

I found the chocolates too sweet for my taste. And I have a famous sweet tooth.

What I found even sweeter were the Hot Chocolate offerings... But I am spoiled by some other Hot Chocolate I have had.. and so most anything pales in comparison.

I must go back and try this frosted brownie sort of thingie you mention... I love brownies.

But I loved the space and the hygiene. Maybe someday they will make chocolate that is a tad less sweet.. and that would make this place magical for me. I love chocolates to be about chocolate and not too much about sugar. But maybe it is just me.... :sad:

I wanted to fall in love with the store... I only fell in love with the ambience and the energy.... Maybe this next visit, I will find myself in better luck. :wink:

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Stopped by the shop on monday and found it to be very pleasant (they were under construction/renovation. I know that it is a matter of personal taste, but I think the product is excellent.

If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding. How could you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat!??

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Stopped by the shop on monday and found it to be very pleasant (they were under construction/renovation. I know that it is a matter of personal taste, but I think the product is excellent.

Thanks for the feedback. It encourages me to make another trip there. And yes the space is very attractive.

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I was there last weekend: M. Torres was there and chatted with us for quite a while. What a gracious man!

I had the hot chocolate, too: the spicy version which had ancho and chipotle ( I think) in it. Very intriguing! Only thing, as it cooled, it thickened and soon I was "eating" the hot chocolate! Couldn't finish it to save my life. Tired a couple of the chocolates too ( I had come so far....of course I had to!) They were exquisite. Lovely place: M. Torres says that it is packed on the weekends.

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