February is here and it’s the annual Hot Chocolate Festival at City Bakery! Check out the calendar and indulge in a rotating menu of delicious liquid chocolate.
Yesterday, City Bakery kicked off its annual Hot Chocolate Festival. From February 1st through February 28th, City Bakery will be offering a variety of unique hot chocolate flavors. This is one of my favorite annual events so I highly recommend you go check it out. With options such as Banana Peel Hot Chocolate, Chili Pepper Hot Chocolate and On A Peanut Butter Barge, you can’t go wrong.
It’s February and that means it’s time for City Bakery’s Hot Chocolate Festival and Clinton Street Baking Company’s Pancake Month! These are some of my favorite annual food events are are well worth the trip to both places.
Every February, City Bakery announces its calendar of hot chocolate flavors. Each day throughout the month City Bakery features a new flavor of hot chocolate, ranging from lemon hot chocolate to rum raisin to banana peel. And this isn’t your cheap Swiss Miss hot chocolate. This is the real deal – thick, liquid chocolate gold.
Pancake Month at Clinton Street Baking Company is the place to be as well. Get there early though because lines stretch out the door on both weeknights and weekends. The wait is well worth it for some delicious pancakes and great variety of flavors.
Restaurant: Chocolatier BLUE – Larimer Square Walkway, Denver, Colorado
In a small, unassuming basement-level shop in Denver sits Chocolatier BLUE. I’m happy to say this place is home to probably some of the most incredibly decorated chocolates boasting a vast array of flavors.
The chocolates at Chocolatier BLUE are treated like royalty. Hailing from Berkeley, California, Chris Blue, chocolatier and founder, scoured the globe for the best ingredients. From Domori Italian chocolate to Five Star organic butter from California to hand-roasted pistachios from Sicily to Ennis hazelnuts from Washington State (the list goes on and on), only the finest and freshest ingredients were selected.
Have a flavor you like? Chocolatier BLUE probably has a chocolate for it. Flavors encompass everything from your non-traditional, such as root beer float, grapefruit mimosa and Bloody Mary, to your more traditional raspberry, dark chocolate and caramel. The ingredients combine for the perfect balance of nuanced flavors.
It’s evident that tremendous care is taken into making each chocolate. A perfect example is the cookies & cream flavor. Actual Oreos are ground into the white chocolate filling. This is just par for the course for Chocolatier BLUE, taking an extra step in all their chocolates to ensure they deliver only the best.
Aside from a top-notch list of ingredients, what sets Chocolatier BLUE apart (at least visually) is how they decorate the chocolates. Dyed cocoa butter is used to create masterpieces on each chocolate. They were so pretty I almost didn’t want to eat them.
Chocolatier BLUE has shops in the Denver, CO, Berkeley, CA and Lincoln and Omaha, NE. In any of those areas? Definitely go check out this place. The best part, they readily give away a free sample when you visit. I promise you won’t be disappointed. And if you do visit, make sure you send me some!
Restaurant: Knave – 119 West 56th Street, Manhattan, New York
I recently read about Knave at Le Parker Meridien having some of the best hot chocolate in the midtown Manhattan area. So naturally, Hailey and I had to go check it out. Unfortunately, while the hot chocolate was good, it left a lot to be desired, and the service was horrendous.
The interior of Knave is gorgeous. Plush chairs surround tables sitting below a vaulted ceiling with intricate chandeliers. A small bar lines the middle of one wall where a bartender works his magic making coffee or other drinks. On a Saturday afternoon there were only a handful of people occupying the tables and the atmosphere could best be described as relaxed and quiet.
Since I’d heard about the hot chocolate at Knave, I had to order it. We ordered a hot chocolate and cafe mocha, unfortunately, we only got to try the hot chocolate since the cafe mocha never made it to our table.
The hot chocolate was good, but not great. I’ve had this “European” style of hot chocolate before where it literally is like melted chocolate in a cup. While Knave tried to accomplish this, it only gave you a small taste – filling up a coffee cup only about a quarter of the way. I’ll admit, I don’t want an entire coffee cup filled with liquid chocolate, but for the price, I think you should get a little bit more than just a taste.
As I mentioned above, there were only a handful of guests at Knave but the staff couldn’t seem to get a simple order of a hot chocolate and cafe mocha correct. The hot chocolate quickly arrived at our table but we had to remind the waitress twice about the cafe mocha. Even after this, it was clear the bartender hadn’t even started making it. Since we’d finished the hot chocolate long ago, we decided to pack it in and do without our other drink.
To the waitress’s credit, she realized they’d screwed up and gave us our hot chocolate on the house. However, I was amazed they couldn’t even get two drinks correct while the place wasn’t busy.
The hot chocolate was six dollars for a small tiny bit of melted chocolate in a cup. I know we were at the Le Parker Meridien, but I think this was pretty overpriced. I was expecting a little bit more than what we received.
Knave disappointed me. I was expecting a great cup of hot chocolate, but instead got a mediocre cup with terrible service. I will not be heading back to Knave and do not recommend it.
Restaurant: MarieBelle – 484 Broome Street between W Broadway and Wooster Street, Manhattan, New York
During a weekend scavenger hunt throughout New York City (I highly recommend giving this a try) I was fortunate to re-stumble upon MarieBelle chocolate shop. (I had visited this store about two years ago during a hot chocolate tour.)
The chocolates at this store are nothing short of works of art. Don’t quote me on this, but they seem to be hand painted with different designs by flavor. During my most recent visit I headed to the back of the chocolate shop where they have a quaint cacao bar and tea salon. With about 15-20 seats, the cacao bar gives visitors the opportunity to escape from the hustle and bustle of New York City and indulge in some chocolate treats along with different chocolatey drinks.
The bar is adorned with different types of cookies, pastries, chocolate powders and various other sweets. After taking a quick glance at the menu, Hailey, my chocolate companion for the day, and I decided to go with hot chocolate, an iced chocolate drink and an alfajor.
Everything was delicious! I’m sure I consumed enough sugar to last me for the rest of the week but it was well worth it. Unlike your usual hot chocolate, this hot chocolate is similar to what you get in Europe – liquid chocolate. It’s almost as if MarieBelle melted down a chocolate bar and served it to you in a cup. Nothing short of amazing. The iced chocolate drink reminded me of Serendipity 3. Similar to the hot chocolate, it was liquid chocolate and I was in heaven.
I also had the opportunity to try an alfajor. Alfajores are traditional confections found in various regions of Spain as well as countries in Latin America, including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Peru. It consisted of two round biscuits with dulce de leche in the middle. The outside was then coated in coconut. This was something I had never had before and it was very good. The biscuits were a little bit crumbly but other than that, it was very light and nicely accompanied our liquid chocolate drinks.
If you’re in the area and have a sweet tooth, MarieBelle is the place to go for all things chocolate. The chocolates in the store may be expensive, but head right to the cocoa bar and spend some time having some of MarieBelle’s incredible chocolate drinks or sample some of the various homemade sweets. I will definitely be paying MarieBelle a visit again.