10 Jan2008

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The traditional definition of “hunting and gathering” societies, where members of the group head out to seek animals for protein and gather edible fruits, nuts and grains, harks back only a couple of decades in some parts of the world. But the updated definition of “hunting and gathering” has truly evolved (or has it?) on the Upper East Side of New York City or any other major cosmopolitan city on the planet today. Instead of humans spearing furry animals for steaks, fur-clad (mink, fox, chinchilla, beaver) humans go shopping… First, up, for that meat and protein fix, a visit to Lobel’s on Madison Avenue. Located in a tiny storefront, with part of its chiller visible to pedestrians outdoors, gorgeous cuts of meat are on display at this New York temple of meat. Established in 1840, the 157 year old and several generation owned shop sells beautiful hunks of beef, amongst other meats. With a 16 pound trimmed prime grade roast beef here running close to $500, this is a pricey but delicious stop. Imagine what they would charge for a whole cow??? Oh, and you need not trek to the shop if that is too much trouble, they deliver around the neighborhood, or order from them on-line, Lobel’s link here.

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After securing the protein, one needs the fruit, nuts, and of course the chocolate to bind it all together… and what better place to get the goods than at La Maison du Chocolat, at their beautiful shop at Madison and 79th. That’s The Kid at the window of LMduC ready to “gather,” her eye on this massive selection of chocolates in the circular box below, shown in the shop window… She settled for a whiff of the store’s interior, redolent with fine cacao essence. Pound for pound, I think La Maison du Chocolat charges even more than Lobel’s does for a Prime cut of meat… I still think these are amongst the finest quality chocolates on the planet… LMduC, link here.

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But a new arrival to the rapidly expanding world of designer chocolates, is Vosges, which has a small shop several blocks up from La Maison. I first tasted these chocolates just weeks ago, and there was an intriguing selection of flavors and or ingredients including chilli, cinnamon, sea salts, etc. They were unusual and many were very good. The shop itself was reminiscent of a Parisian store, and the name Vosges, was apparently a result of the owner, a lady, deciding to open her chocolate business while she was on Place de Vosges, in Paris… We bought several different types of chocolates here, many for pasalubongs, and many that didn’t get much further than our fridge and dining table… I would highly recommend them to chocolate lovers… the bars with some sea salt were particularly good, as were some of the caramel based concoctions. We ate several boxes of caramel toffee bars in a flash. Yum. Vosges, link here.

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Arrrgh…. now wasn’t that a tiring afternoon hunting and gathering? :)

 

COMMENTS:

  1. foodhuntress says:

    Wow! I like your site :)

    Jan 10, 2008 | 5:46 pm

     
  2. Mangaranon says:

    My sister used to date the owner of La Maison de Chocolat. He is French. He also owned a lot of food companies.

    Jan 10, 2008 | 6:40 pm

     
  3. wysgal says:

    I bought a sampler packet of quirkily flavored Vosges chocolates myself recently. Was planning to share them over the Christmas break, but I was so busy during the holidays (and even right now) that I haven’t even opened the box. Maybe I’ll use them as a reward for a study break.

    Jan 10, 2008 | 7:42 pm

     
  4. nina says:

    Chocolates…Who can resist them?

    Jan 10, 2008 | 8:29 pm

     
  5. patty says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but I actually prefer mass-produced chocolates (such as Snickers, Kisses, Twix, etc) to designer ones. My mom brought chocolate once from Spain. They were called turrones, I think, and they’d chop them off from a block of chocolate upon purchase. Those were really, really delicious. The Philippines should have something like that, don’t you think? Or do we already?

    Jan 10, 2008 | 8:51 pm

     
  6. bea tenchavez says:

    Hi Marketman,

    We had a couple of Lobels steaks last fall–delicious, just seared and with a little salt. The quality of the meat is superb, and just the smell of the Lobel’s steak sizzling, oh wow!!! I tried the Vosges chocolate with applewood bacon–quite unique, you can taste (albeit a bit artificial)the salty bacon flavor that goes well with the sweet chocolate. A good combitation is the Vosges White Chocolate with Kalamata Olives—yummy!…Another find chocolatier in NYC is Pierre Marcolini in the Upper east as well…it’s off 66 and park/madison I think…..also Lady M in 78th and Mad…delicious cakes!!!…Enjoy NY, let me know if you have new finds!!!

    Jan 10, 2008 | 9:44 pm

     
  7. fried-neurons says:

    Ok, next time I’m in NYC I’ll check Vosges out. I’m a chocoholic… La Maison du Chocolat truffles are among my all-time favorites.

    Jan 10, 2008 | 10:27 pm

     
  8. wanda says:

    I love chocolates with chilis, which they have at Vosges. (Or at least they used to.) Hot pepper and sweet chocolate may seem like an unlikely pairing, but so good! They also have the one with curry — a strange but beautiful thing!

    Jan 10, 2008 | 11:45 pm

     
  9. New Yorker says:

    I was a bit skeptical of the concept of mixing chocolate with various spices, but I found that for the ones I tried, nothing was over the top or weird. It’s definitely the type of chocolate that you savor, especially since each truffle is quite pricey!

    My sister and I went to the SoHo store and tried their Aztec hot chocolate. It was quite nice, and the chili flavor was very subtle. It’s great to have on a chilly day.

    Has anyone tried their ice cream? I recall seeing something like chocolate-pandan and was wondering if it was any good.

    Jan 11, 2008 | 12:37 am

     
  10. Silly Lolo says:

    I simply do not eat anything which has a name I cannot pronounce!

    Jan 11, 2008 | 12:41 am

     
  11. Maria Clara says:

    All the three stores mentioned above are purveyors of the finest food worth every penny you spent! The lady behind Vosges is an alumna of El Bulli and took chocolates to totally different frontier. Who would ever dare to mix high end chocolate with curry powder, mangoes, coconut, etc. and the rest is history.. Of course the Aztecs had been adding chili in their hot cocoa since the turn of the century. I would say Vosges is the Robert Craig “Evel” Knievel, Jr. in the chocolate industry!

    Jan 11, 2008 | 1:14 am

     
  12. erleen says:

    Does it make me weird in the way that I do not like chocolate? Even anything chocolate flavored like cakes and brownies. I may eat it once in a while but it does not really rock my boat.

    My family adores me for that because they get to eat my share. =)

    Jan 11, 2008 | 2:15 am

     
  13. aanne says:

    I love La Maison! When I visited NYC last October I bought something everytime I passed the store. Mariebelle is also a delicious chocolate place, you should try it if you have the time. Very good hot chocolate…and their croquette au chocolat is super!

    Jan 11, 2008 | 5:51 am

     
  14. Jacob's Mom says:

    Vosges makes one called Mo’s Bacon Bar — a yummy combination of chocolate and bacon bits. The Naga bar has curry in it, mmmm…

    Jan 11, 2008 | 5:56 am

     
  15. sister says:

    Mangaranon, You mean you could have become Robert Linx sister-in-law? He’s still alive and kicking at 80. I first sent Marketman to Maison du Chocolate on his 25th birthday which he spent in Paris. He walked several kilometers on the Fauborg St. Honore until he got to the shop. Their first US shop was on 73rd and Madison which Via Quadranno now occupies.

    Jan 11, 2008 | 6:36 am

     
  16. dee says:

    So many things to try in NYC, cant wait to go back. I tried the chocolate macarons in La Maison, and they were delicious :)

    Jan 11, 2008 | 8:05 am

     
  17. consol says:

    haha … i SO love your version of a ‘tiring afternoon.’

    time so well spent!!!

    thanks for sharing your adventures. i feel as if i’ve been there, too. look forward to reading more, more, more!

    Jan 11, 2008 | 8:30 am

     
  18. Tricia says:

    Mangaranon, that sounds really interesting. I’m just curious, why didn’t your sister and the owner of LMduC end up together?

    Jan 11, 2008 | 8:44 am

     
  19. Lissa says:

    This is off-topic, but I’m missing Apicio’s comments. = )

    Jan 11, 2008 | 8:53 am

     
  20. Mila says:

    As a few others have mentioned Vosges made the food news when they released their bacon flavored chocolate late last year. I also remember reading about their yoga/chocolate spa sessions. No visit to the Pierre Herme store MM?

    Jan 11, 2008 | 9:27 am

     
  21. Marketman says:

    Lissa and all readers with Apicio withdrawal symptoms. Apicio takes leave in October and heads south from his home in Canada to spend 6 months in the tropics of South America, quite literally incommunicado. Then re-emerges just after Easter, where he re-joins the comments section… I miss his comments too, but am looking forward to his return… He very politely lets me know when his trips commence, and obviously, you will all know when he returns… :) Mila, WHAT?! I forgot to do the Pierre Herme store? They have one in New York?

    Jan 11, 2008 | 9:41 am

     
  22. jong says:

    MM! I am drooling at that huge circular box of LMduC – that must be some packaging meant for the Christmas season? wow, meant to be shared, I suppose, because they have short shelf-life. I love LMduC but now I also want to try that bacon-flavored Vosges. Thanks for the tip.

    Jan 11, 2008 | 10:08 am

     
  23. dee bee says:

    Interesting series of articles on your latest trip to NY, really enjoying them. Thanks!

    Jan 11, 2008 | 11:16 am

     
  24. sometime_lurker says:

    Off-topic, but in the polls, I would’ve wanted a superb Sinigang na Bulalo instead. Sinigang beef always stomps sinigang pork, imo. :)

    Jan 11, 2008 | 12:13 pm

     
  25. sister says:

    “Hunting and gathering” is a great pleasure in NYC specially for the holidays. Order your hams and pecans, and wine online. In a ZIP car equipped with a cooler you can hit Economy Candy for sweets, nuts and dried fruit, World seafood for lobsters and shrimp and fruit and veggies on the LES and Chinatown. On the way up stop at Russ and Daughters for smoked salmon, smoked trout, horsradish cream cheese and caviar.Union Square has great chicken, eggs, seafood and apples and pears. Go to Kalustyan on 28th Street for spices and Shop Rite for liquor. Shoot across the 59th street bridge to Astoria to the International Meat market for suckling pig, veal, and lamb. Over the triboro to Fairway on 75th and Broadway for best all around grocery for staples, cheese and fruit and veggies, but wear your combat boots. Stop at MduC and Vosges for chocolates, Lobel’s for your rib roast and Payard for your Buche de Noel. Go home and unload, you will now have enough food for the 12 days of Christmas. Marketman has done posts on most of the above mentioned stores.

    Jan 11, 2008 | 10:04 pm

     
  26. Alicia says:

    I do enjoy some of the interesting pairings with chocolate but I must say some are just too funky for me. I tried the cheese confection covered in chocolate from Jean Paul Hevin and I really did not enjoy it at all. Now their pistachio marzipan cookie covered in dark chocolate- I think they call it Kheops, that’s more up my alley!
    I heard or read somewhere that La Maison du Chocolat was opening in Hong Kong. Does anyone have any information on that? I second the required visit to Pierre Marcolini and the comment on croquette au chocolat from Mariebelle, it’s delicious!

    What a coincidence, I saw a book today at Fully Booked Rockwell. It was about Lobels and I think it was a recipe book featuring various cuts of meat. It also had a wine pairing aspect to it if I remember correctly. It made me think of Marketmanila and voila! – a posting on Lobel’s !

    Jan 11, 2008 | 10:52 pm

     
  27. Lady Madonna says:

    Chocolates – Who can live without them? Recent studies show though that migraines can be triggered by devouring chocolates so I was advised by some friends to perhaps stick with White Chocolates instead and it has improved….
    I love your site MarketMan!!!!! Keep it up and more power!!!

    Jan 11, 2008 | 11:04 pm

     
  28. tnm says:

    Thanks for a great post. I’ve tried a lot of higher end chocolates including LMdC, Richart, Mariebelle, Scharffen Berger, Teushcer and some european brands that I can’t remember but unfortunately, Vosges was, for me, forgettable. I go to Chicago a lot where the first store was established a few years ago. Maybe the only one that I liked was the Naga truffle, not because it was good but because it was different. Also liked the one with sea salt and the caramel toffee. I didn’t like the chocolate bars at all. Still have some in my pantry, over a year old na.

    Jan 12, 2008 | 12:38 am

     
  29. Maria Clara says:

    Greatly appreciate all your tips and leads Sister. The one I value most from you is Clifty Ham at cliftyfarm.com makes my whole family happy and satisfied bringing the joy and galore of traditional Noche Buena feasts. My fastidious Sister loves it so much and says it’s even better than our Chinese Hoc Shiu ham, way much better than Majestic ham. Thank you much.

    Jan 12, 2008 | 2:33 am

     
  30. gemma says:

    mm, have you tried the chocolate shop of jacques torres in dumbo, brooklyn? it’s near the river cafe (awesome view of the nyc skyline) and an ice cream shop which, in my opinion, is comparable to berthillon in paris.

    Jan 12, 2008 | 7:06 am

     
  31. Marketman says:

    gemma, I have only been to he Jacques torres shop downtown in Manhattan… I think I did a post on it two years ago…

    Jan 12, 2008 | 8:13 am

     
  32. john paul sarabia says:

    mm your the epitomy of a hunter and gatherer, the alpha male of society. are you the one in the pix inside the choco store. you gained weight compared to the wind turbines pix. don’t get fat or you’ll be a beta male.

    Jan 12, 2008 | 9:54 pm

     
  33. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    When it comes to consistency and quality of workmanship, no one beats La Maison. Every year (except this year), I had the privilege of tasting some of the finest chocolates in the world as part of my job and La Maison always came up numero uno. Valrhona chocolates makes the chocolates he uses exclusively to his specification.

    About 3 years ago, I made a chocolate journey to NYC to try the work of several artisan chocolatiers in the area and Kee’s chocolate (SOHO) is worth the try. Kee can be found working in her little shop making the chocolates for the day (she is close on Mondays).

    Katrina Markoff of Vosges Haut Chocolat is credited with pushing the flavor mix to the edge of the table and has been successful at it. Her Taleggio cheese (I tried it at her SOHO shop too) blew my mind then. However, I understand she now out-sources her production.

    Jacques Torres DUMBO and Manhattan shops split the production between themselves. The truffles are made in DUMBO while the rest are made in Manhattan, so if you want them really fresh…you know where to go. I also like the other shops along water st. That small stretch reminds one of being in some small european village. Chef Jacques mainly uses Belcolade for most of his line.

    Jan 13, 2008 | 12:59 am

     
  34. dhayL says:

    uhmm… chocolates (and shopping) are my bestfriends whenever i feel lonely and depressed. I am making mental note re: above stores, we might go ahead with our plans to go down sometime in March, I can’t wait!

    Jan 13, 2008 | 11:36 pm

     
  35. sister says:

    ArtisanChocolatier, you have to go to the chocolate show in Paris- last weekend in Octpber!

    Jan 14, 2008 | 8:32 am

     
  36. Marketman says:

    Artisan, I second Sister’s suggestion. Mrs. MM, The Kid and I happened to be in Paris a few years ago towards the tail end of the chocolate show and we got to see it and shop on the last day when purveyors of the finest french food items slashed prices 50% just so they didn’t have to bring home their stocks… I filled a suitcase with confit and pate and other goodies! The chocolate and spice selections were to die for… a definite must do once in your lifetime!

    Jan 14, 2008 | 10:11 am

     
  37. sister says:

    Artisan Chocolatier, You may want to sign up for one of MduC’s “Tea and Chocolate Pairings” sessions. Very informative and delicious and a must for someone like you truly interested in chocolates. Sessions are in October and January.

    Jan 14, 2008 | 8:45 pm

     
 

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