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Jacques Torres Chocolate & Chocolate Haven


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I went yesterday and split a 1/4 pound of chocolates with a freind...so I got 6 pieces...all dark. Of them...I really liked the expresso and the pistachio. Two I didn't like and two were eh. The passionfruit I know I didn't like, the others I don't remember. My friend liked the hit chocolate...but I had already had hot chocolate a couple of hours before at Donut Plant and wasn't ready for more.

-Jason

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I don't know...I don't wanna call myself an expert on chocolate, but I've certainly had far superior chocolate than the stuff Mssr. Torres is pushing. Torres chocolate is very good, but I wouldn't call it great by any means.

If you have ever been to Belgium then you'll know what I mean...Belgian chocolate shoppes serve up the most amazing, buttery, creamy and full-flavored examples of the art I have ever tasted, and do it in what seems to be such an effortless manor that when I compare them to anything I've tried in New York I am left wanting. The best specialty chocolate I have had anywhere on this side of the pond has been at a small chocolatier in Kent CT called Blegique. The owner, Pierre Gillisen, is a Cordon Bleu trained chef who opened his shop in Connecticut a few years ago and is making hand made chocolates and superb desserts the way he was taught in Belgium using real Belgian chocolate and the original techniques that I haven't seen here. His fillings are incredible, and the chocolate so pure and focussed that when I try other chocolate now I find myself comparing it to Pierre's chocolate. No preservatives, no wax or emulsifiers, just amazing, full-flavored chocolate! :raz::raz::raz:

If you ever find yourself in Kent, I strongly urge you to stop off and try some of his stuff. I was there today and had my usual hot chocolate and madellaine...the chocolate thicker than anything you've ever tried, and the pastry so light it floats!

BeeT's cool.gif

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I agree. Torres' place is fun, but the chocolate is only okay, not great. There is lots of chocolate in NYC which is far superior. And I find his hot chocolate way, way too rich and thick and sweet - undrinkably so. I buy the spicy hot chocolate mix from him and dilute it like crazy.

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Nina Wugmeister, in a rather confusing :blink: declaration, said: "...My personal favorite is Teuscher. Although I think Payard and Maison blow Torres away, in terms of chocolate quality..."

Huh? I'll agree with you on Payard, and I've never been to Maison so I have no idea about that place, but Teuscher?!! In my less than humble opinion I must say no chance!!! I liked Teuscher when I knew nothing about chocolate, but as soon as I tasted my first true Belgian chocolate truffle I knew that mass-produced confections like the ones found at Teuscher were really not in the same league! As soon as a chocolatier begins to add preservatives and emulsifiers to the mix you get average candy!

Wanna reconsider your statement?

BeeT's :unsure:

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Teuscher is hand made in Zurich and flown in twice a week to the shops in NYC. There are no additives or preservatives of any kind. I have eaten Teuscher in Switzerland and I find no difference between the chocolates there and the chocolates sold in NYC. They are fresh, not to sweet, wonderful textures, high quality ingredients, and beautifully presented. I stand by my preference 100%. Their champagne truffles, and pistachio marzipan in dark chocolate are two of my favorite confections in the world. Try again.

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I haven't had a Teuscher chocolate in years, but my understanding is that a good many of their chocolates have a shelf life of less than a week, and must be kept cool to last that long. I haven't had a lot of Belgian chocolates, but the best I've had has been Pierre Marcolini. His style seems a cross between traditional creamy fat Belgian chocolate and the much leaner French style. I suppose I'd have to go with Bernachon in Lyon for the best I've had.

There have been some wonderful choclolate threads here with great contributions from our own very knowledgeable Steve Klc along with help from other professional pastry chefs. I don't know if the search engine will help. "Chocolate" probably pops up too often in too many threads in terms of desserts and even Hershey bars. These threads are probably worth searching for however.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Try again.

:unsure::laugh::unsure:

I loathe chocolate but I loved watching Torres work with it on his Dessert Circus show. I must admit (forgive me, Special Klc) that I had little respect for "dessert people" until then. One just knows Torres would be able to work any station.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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:unsure:  :laugh:  :unsure:

I loathe chocolate but I loved watching Torres work with it on his Dessert Circus show. I must admit (forgive me, Special Klc) that I had little respect for "dessert people" until then. One just knows Torres would be able to work any station.

That is high praise, especially from a woman who loathes chocolate. :wink:

I hope to be making a pilgrimage to Jacques' shop this weekend, with a pastry chef friend. I'll report if I do.

Like Suvir, I prefer dark chocolate with very little sugar, but I have great respect for Torres' creativity, passion and technique. And he's so cute.

Like Nina says, Teuscher rules.

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:unsure:  :laugh:  :unsure:

I loathe chocolate but I loved watching Torres work with it on his Dessert Circus show. I must admit (forgive me, Special Klc) that I had little respect for "dessert people" until then. One just knows Torres would be able to work any station.

That is high praise, especially from a woman who loathes chocolate. :wink:

I hope to be making a pilgrimage to Jacques' shop this weekend, with a pastry chef friend. I'll report if I do.

Like Suvir, I prefer dark chocolate with very little sugar, but I have great respect for Torres' creativity, passion and technique. And he's so cute.

Like Nina says, Teuscher rules.

Teuscher champagne truffles are addictive. I worked on Madison Avenue and was between Mitchell London and Teuscher. It was bad Bad BAD for me... For I ate ML's food daily.. And Teuscher champagne truffles several times a week.... They are the best champagne truffles I have had at least in NYC....

I too find Torres very cute :shock: , also very professional and very passionate... But his chocolates have not moved me as some others have.... But maybe I too can make a pilgrimage to Brooklyn for yet another visit.. And maybe this time, his chocolates will impress me. I have been impressed by the store, the cleanliness and the service, but the chocolates were nowhere near some of the chocolates that I crave.

I have to agree with Nina that even Payard is doing far better stuff. And I am also with Nina on the Teuscher champagne truffles... They are most amazing.

I love chocolate to taste like chocolate when I am paying more than a couple of dollars for it... Or else, the Heath bar I have finally found around my home :shock: can sate me.

No excuse for sweet sugary stuff from chefs that have great repute. It is actually shocking to me. I think of India, England and America when I think of sugary chocolate... And while I have enjoyed those chocolates, they form a very different part of my palate. I do crave those terrible chocolates very often, but I assign them little if any credence in being real or even close to real in their chocolate taste. But this is only my humble opinion... :smile:

I will give Torres yet another chance.... And I am ready to be converted.... Will report back after I make this pilgrimage. I am somewhat nervous I must be honest. I am not one to give something so many chances... But I shall.. I am very fond of the chef.. And as I said above.. like many others... I find him someone to stop and hear, look at and listen to.

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I can't say I've ever understood the champagne and chocolate thing either--my palate doesn't react well to the combination in any form. It seems more strategic partnering and brand positioning as a luxury combination than anything else, again, at least to my palate.

I think one thing that emerges from reading this thread is that chocolate can be like a religious cult, with very loud, but localized advocates as we see with barbecue or bread, meaning different things to different people and depending on one's frame of reference, it may be hard to find common ground or reach a consensus with such passionately held beliefs.

One thing we shouldn't forget is that chocolate makers have to sell their product--and if your customer base wants a slightly sweeter chocolate you'd be a foolish businessman not to address what your customers are telling you. We have decades of shitty American chocolate behind us which prove alot of very bad, very sweet chocolate has been sold to American consumers with little palate awareness that chocolate doesn't have to be sweet--that in fact chocolate without so much sugar can be enjoyed on a more complex and interesting level.

We're seeing it with espresso, with wine, with desserts--slowly, very slowly Americans are coming to the realization that acidity and bitterness can be good things balanced in the hands of talented people--be they chocolatiers, pastry chefs, chefs, vintners, etc.--and paired with other things. You just have to get the thing in the mouths of the public--which was one of the unfortunate missed opportunities of the Field Museum Chocolate exhibit--an effort wasn't made to get small tastes of good bittersweet and extra bittersweet chocolate into the mouths of all those attending. Hopefully by the time this show travels to the American Museum of Natural History in NYC next June the programmers there will figure out a way to remedy this defect. However, this is one of the good things about the New York Chocolate Show--coming up this weekend in NYC at the Metropolitan Pavilion--Valrhona is there, Guittard is there, Sharffen Berger is there--among others--and all three hand out samples of fantastic chocolates with higher level cacao percentages made from flavorful, interesting bean blends. The masses will have an opportunity to have their awareness raised, their horizons broadened.

This weekend, look especially for the E. Guittard 61% and 72% blends--and several of their 65% single nation varietals.

This thread also reveals a bit of one's subjective preference for what constitutes good chocolate work--me--as anyone who has read the site for awhile knows--I'm clearly on the French side and clearly against the Teuscher, Swiss and Belgian national styles. I find all that too sweet, too molded, the fillings too fatty/buttery/sugary/airy/whipped, with an over reliance on white chocolate, marzipan and sweet milk chocolates (because they use milk chocolates with less cacao % and a higher sugar %) and an over reliance on thick-walled molded chocolates rather than thinly dipped or enrobed chocolates.

I definitely prefer ganache-based chocolates and bon bons, with dark chocolate couvertures, very little sugar and milk chocolate with a higher cacao percentage--say around 45%. The few Belgian chocolates I like are the ones made by chocolatiers influenced by the French "style"--like a Pierre Marcolini.

I've had good and bad Payard chocolates over the years--it depends on who is on the staff running things at the time and who is making them in the shop. But the Payard chocolates, including a white chocolate-passionfruit ganache at last year's NY Chocolate Show--were very good indeed. The Torres chocolates I've had over the years were very traditional and I've really enjoyed them, and this goes back to when Jacques was developing his line while still at Le Cirque 2000 and providing chocolate amenities for guests of the New York Palace Hotel. (Chefette, in fact, was doing her several months long stage with Jacques at Le Cirque at that time and spent many a Saturday working directly with him--Jacques was very generous in that way--if you staged with him, he appreciated that you were volunteering to be there and you worked directly with him on tasks, doing them together.) I haven't had any of Jacques' line since last Fall, but hopefully I'll get a chance this weekend at the show. The new NYC chocolate and what just might prove to be the sleeper as far as I'm concerned is the line Drew Shotts has developed--it will be interesting to taste his stuff at the Chocolate Show. Also worth checking out--selling and schmoozing at the show, I hear, in addition to the aforementioned Drew, Jacques, Payard, Valrhona, Guittard and Sharffen Berger will be Eric Girerd, Cluizel and El Rey.)

In NYC, but not at the show, both Maison du Chocolat and Richart are worth trying if only for the point of comparison--both are very high quality mass produced chocolates, representative in different ways of the French style. I think Maison succeeds better on flavor while Richart is certainly very pretty to look at with very nice packaging and design. Fauchon is a wild card--before hiring a pastry chef as good as Florian, their desserts and their chocolates were underwhelming, outsourced and inferior. (Remember, the NYC Fauchon opened WITHOUT an in-house pastry chef.) In fact, their stuff was awful. I wonder if Florian has begun producing his own line of chocolates in-house? If so, the NY Fauchon would definitely be worth investigating again! Florian is a big Valrhona guy and he's demonstrating at the Chocolate Show, so maybe someone could ask him.

This weekend's demo lineup--albeit posted on a very, very poorly designed website--is buried somewhere here:

http://www.chocolateshow.com/

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Great post Steve.

The best chocolate truffles I've had recently were at Jean-Paul Hevin's place in Paris. The couverture was thin, lustrous and bitter, and the flavored ganache fillings (in particular the earl-grey tea) were intensely flavorful. The great thing about Hevin's truffles is that the couverture is so intense that it takes a few seconds after you bite into the truffle for the flavor of the ganache to emerge---then, you just get this wallop of the ganache flavor. I remember trying my first one on my way to the Rodin museum nearby on foot. It stopped me in my tracks. Maybe it was just the Paris effect (everything seems to taste better in Paris), but boy was it good.

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I don't know if fat and sugar are naturally pleasing or if the taste for them has been culturally instilled, but rich cream laden chocolates seem to have more immediate appeal than the bitter chocolates of someone like Bernachon. The former also seem like the sort of indulgences you want to partake of until you're actually sick. I can't imagine gobbling Bernachon's intense palet's d'or one after the other in quick succession.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I've had good and bad Payard chocolates over the years--it depends on who is on the staff running things at the time and who is making them in the shop.  But the Payard chocolates, including a white chocolate-passionfruit ganache at last year's NY Chocolate Show--were very good indeed.  The Torres chocolates I've had over the years were very traditional and I've really enjoyed them, and this goes back to when Jacques was developing his line while still at Le Cirque 2000 and providing chocolate amenities for guests of the New York Palace Hotel.  (Chefette, in fact, was doing her several months long stage with Jacques at Le Cirque at that time and spent many a Saturday working directly with him--Jacques was very generous in that way--if you staged with him, he appreciated that you were volunteering to be there and you worked directly with him on tasks, doing them together.) I haven't had any of Jacques' line since last Fall, but hopefully I'll get a chance this weekend at the show.  The new NYC chocolate and what just might prove to be the sleeper as far as I'm concerned is the line Drew Shotts has developed--it will be interesting to taste his stuff at the Chocolate Show.  Also worth checking out--selling and schmoozing at the show, I hear, in addition to the aforementioned Drew, Jacques, Payard, Valrhona, Guittard and Sharffen Berger will be Eric Girerd, Cluizel and El Rey.)

In NYC, but not at the show, both Maison du Chocolat and Richart are worth trying if only for the point of comparison--both are very high quality mass produced chocolates, representative in different ways of the French style.  I think Maison succeeds better on flavor while Richart is certainly very pretty to look at with very nice packaging and design.  Fauchon is a wild card--before hiring a pastry chef as good as Florian, their desserts and their chocolates were underwhelming, outsourced and inferior.  (Remember, the NYC Fauchon opened WITHOUT an in-house pastry chef.) In fact, their stuff was awful.  I wonder if Florian has begun producing his own line of chocolates in-house?  If so, the NY Fauchon would definitely be worth investigating again!  Florian is a big Valrhona guy and he's demonstrating at the Chocolate Show, so maybe someone could ask him.

Thanks Steve for this most amazing and detailed post.

I think Mr. Torres is making different chocolates in his store than what was made at Le Cirque and to service the NY Palace Hotel. I had the good fortune to have been served both at different times. And they were good both times. He certainly is a smart businessman... Maybe now that he is ultimately responsible for his own success, he has altered some of his recipes to meet the demands of the mass market. Sad. Or maybe I have bought pounds of his chocolates at wrong days.

I am mostly a fan of French style chocolates for the same reason as you. Buttery, rich fillings that are over the top do little for my palate. Not that I do not like those things... It is just that with chocolates of a certain caliber, I want nothing but what I want.:shock: I used to be a buyer at Bergdorf Goodman and Maison du Chocolat had their first NYC retail space on our 7th floor. The floor that I worked with. I would often come home with samples that had been flown in for that week. Superb. And while they too were not as good as some of the smaller names in Paris, they were better than what my other options in NYC were. Richart to me is more about form than substance. I have not understood it well, just yet. I would eat Torres before Richart. I do find Richart less sweet than Torres, but again, after looking at their chocolate, something makes me expect more finesse and it does not get delivered. :sad:

Fauchon in NYC has had very mixed standards. It has gone from being nothing but a name to being really good. I had heard some of the things you have mentioned... But now I know clearly why this has been the case. This last weekend I was lucky to have had some macarons from Fauchon, and those were superb. In texture and sweetness.

I wish more people would now take pastry more seriously. Too many restaurants and operations are running without really having someone professionally trained and with an inspired and caring mind overseeing the production of these delicacies. I think Americans have been served so much bad pastry for so long that some think they can still pull wool over our eyes.

At the H/M/R Show and Javits this week, I was amazed at how seriously the pastry chefs were taking their cuisine and how very well you moderated the Demos. While it was no surprise for you were involved, it was certainly a very good experience, much better than what I was expecting, even knowing that someone as passionate as you was responsible. It says a lot. Now only if we can have restaurant owners and merchants understand the trends you discuss and realize we now have consumers that care and know better... and with only a little effort and some tastings, they can educate those masses they are worried about. I was once with the larger masses that have largely missed the magic of chocolate. In fact I am still not fully de-addicted to my addiction of Heath Bars, Toblerone, Cadbury Fruit and Nut and some other chocolates, which I crave every so often.

And how right you are to observe that we chocolate fans are like members of a religious cult. :shock::rolleyes::smile:

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I don't know if fat and sugar are naturally pleasing or if the taste for them has been culturally instilled, but rich cream laden chocolates seem to have more immediate appeal than the bitter chocolates of someone like Bernachon. The former also seem like the sort of indulgences you want to partake of until you're actually sick. I can't imagine gobbling Bernachon's intense palet's d'or one after the other in quick succession.

I can.. and find it a treat. :shock::rolleyes:

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Great post Steve.

The best chocolate truffles I've had recently were at Jean-Paul Hevin's place in Paris.  The couverture was thin, lustrous and bitter, and the flavored ganache fillings (in particular the earl-grey tea) were intensely flavorful.  The great thing about Hevin's truffles is that the couverture is so intense that it takes a few seconds after you bite into the truffle for the flavor of the ganache to emerge---then, you just  get this wallop of the ganache flavor.  I remember trying my first one on my way to the Rodin museum nearby on foot.  It stopped me in my tracks.  Maybe it was just the Paris effect (everything seems to taste better in Paris), but boy was it good.

I agree with all 3 of your observations..

On Steve, on Jean-Paul Hevin and about Paris. :smile:

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  • 3 months later...
  • 1 year later...

Nice article about Jacques Torres' new chocolate factory in today's NY Times (free registration required).

Somewhat maddeningly, the article doesn't specify what the shop, which is located at 350 Hudson (cross street: King), sells or for how much.

I called them up (212-414-2462) and was told that they don't sell unsweetened bars. But they do have varieties of bittersweet (and I assume milk) chocolate. The woman I spoke to said the bars are labeled by their percentage and that while the bars don't carry names, they are described by the ratios of the beans' countries of origin.

The bars are 4 ounces, and cost $4-5. This is certainly close enough to the price of Valrhona or Scharffen Berger for me to give them a try. I'm sure the bars are works in progress and are likely to improve with time.

Edited by SethG (log)

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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I was there last week and met the man himself who personally helped me bring gift baskets out to the curb. While the product is excellent as was his personal service, I have to say that I found the instore service somewhat frustrating. My initial interest was in buying chocolate santas. I went last Thursday to discover that they were all out. They told me to return the following morning, which I did. Once again, they didn't have any. I was then told that they only make one or two per day and they sell immediately. Had I known that on Thursday I wouldn't have returned on Friday as I had a lot to do, but given that I was there I thought I would take care of some of my gift needs by buying some gift baskets that they did have in stock. Unfortunately they couldn't ship from there (that would have to be ordereed directly from the Dumbo location only)and I couldn't carry them at the time. I suggested that I pay for them then and that they hold the baskets for me until the next day when I would pick them up. Amazingly I was told that they couldn't do this! As tempted as I was to simply walk out, I ultimately prevailed upon them to do this very thing and the next day I got help from Chef Torres himself. We had a nice conversation, although I didn't think at the time to relate this story to him, which I should have done.

As for what they carry - all sorts of truffles and bon bons as well as a variety chocolate bars, hot chocolate mixes and chocolate covered items such as pretzels. They also have gift baskets and a bar for fresh hot chocolate and such. They were busy making a lot of product while I was there. I wish them well with this new store and hope that my experience was an aberration due to growing pains as I suspect it was.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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my wife and i went there today just to grab a quick after lunch treat... saw the man himself, the space is big, looked good.... but after waiting 15 minutes in line (and i'm generously calling a confused and unordered group of people a line) we left without having purchased anything... of the people who walked in after us, most of them had to ask where/what the line was... and btw, the poor counter help looked even more flustered than the customers, they were working about twice as hard as they should have needed to. When the main topic of conversation between customers is how screwed up the ordering process is, and not how good the product is, you've got a serious problem. Great chocolate, terrible planning. I'm headed back to the Brooklyn shop.

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Hopefully this is reflective of opening just before the holidays and will sort itself out soon.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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You also have to figure that the Times article sent them more people than they could handle. I almost went yesterday, but couldn't find the time. I guess I'll give them a few weeks before I go.

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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