Have you ever wondered exactly where chocolate comes from and how it is transformed from simple bean to luscious bar? Or pondered how quality is judged and just what “Belgian-style” means? This afternoon stroll through the West Village and Soho visits some of the best artisan chocolate shops in the country for a lively discussion of botany, chemistry, social history and food lore. As the nation's undisputed capital of fine chocolate, New York offers visitors a unique opportunity to experience first hand, the chocolate revolution afoot in America today.
We will begin our Chocolate Affair in the West Village, the neighborhood just north of Soho, winding our way down past several must-see, must-smell, and must-taste gourmet shops. Our visits to some area favorites will prove multi-sensual, as we see, smell, and taste the luscious treats being sold. We will discuss the differences between one shop and the next and see how each holds its own appeal to shoppers young and old. We might see luxurious, boxed truffles and flaky pain au chocolates in one stop, and in the next switch gears and taste exotic-flavored bars and retro-inspired chocolate treats.
Note: Summer is a bad time for chocolate, and so we don't run this walk during the months of July and August.
This walk is led by one of Context New York's culinary docents with extensive training and experience in desserts and New York's chocolate scene. During the walk, our docent will also share information about the storied history of chocolate and its arrival from Europe to America. We will talk about the agricultural origins of chocolate, where cocoa beans are harvested, and conditions necessary for their growth. Our discussions will also include information about the different kinds of chocolate on the market today, the process of chocolate making, and the steps necessary for getting the cocoa beans from the fields into the shiny wrappers on store shelves.
|Duration: 3 hours|
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Alexandra Leaf is a culinary historian and cookbook author. She writes for a variety of publications including The Philadelphia Daily News, Gastronomica and Country Living and most recently SAVEUR. She has been featured on radio and television, including NPR and CNN, and in such print media as The New York Times, Food and Wine, and Travel and Leisure.
Alexandra is a member of Les Dames d'Escoffier International; is a board member of The New York Food Museum; and is former chair of Culinary Historians of New York. Alexandra holds a Masters' degree in Comparative Literature from NYU and speaks fluent French and Italian. In 1992, she was awarded a Soros Foundation Teaching Fellowship and in 2002 was cited for her outstanding contribution to the James Beard Foundation. Her award-winning (IACP) cookbook "Van Gogh's Table at the Auberge Ravoux" (Artisan Books, 2001) has just been reissued in paperback. In 2002, the French edition of the book was published by Hoebecke. Alexandra's first book, "The Impressionists' Table: Recipes and Gastronomy of 19th Century France" was published in 1994 by Rizzoli International.
Alexandra is a well-known expert on chocolate and is the principal organizer of the 92nd St. Y's annual World Chocolate Extravaganza. She lectures around the country on the history, manufacture and appreciation of fine chocolate. In addition, she teaches tasting classes at the Institute for Culinary Education and at the 92nd St. Y in New York City where she resides.