A Sweet Taste of the Big Apple

One of the highlights of my daughter's vacation at home was when we headed into the city for a Chocolate Tour of New York by Great New York Tours.  Taking a tour in the city is not something we would normally think to do -  we think of ourselves as New Yorkers, even though we live in the burbs. But if it involves chocolate, why not??

The tour began at Chelsea Market...a destination in itself in the old Nabisco factory where the Oreo cookie was invented. What better place to begin a chocolate tour! The factory building has been turned into a gourmet marketplace filled with artisanal food vendors and restaurants, and fills an entire city block in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. 
Our tour guide, Jessie, met us in front of Chelsea Market and explained to us a bit of the history of chocolate and how the tour would proceed...we would be walking to seven different places in lower Manhattan to sample their various chocolate confections. Good thing we brought our appetites!

 Our first stop was the oldest candy shop in the city...Li-Lac Chocolates in the West Village.  We sampled the butter crunch toffee and the dark chocolate...both were very tasty, but we liked the toffee best.

Our next stop was Chocolate Bar at 19 Eighth Avenue where we sampled the dark chocolate with sea salt and had fun checking out the chocolate moustaches!

For those of you who guessed Magnolia Bakery from Friday's post...you were right!

 As we strolled through the beautiful West Village to our next destination, Jessie pointed out landmarks such as where John Lennon and Yoko Ono lived in the early years and where scenes from various movies were filmed. We found ourselves in front of the original Magnolia Bakery on Bleecker Street, made famous by Sex and the City.  Our treat from Magnolia was a full size chocolate/chocolate cupcake...absolutely divine.  This was Caroline's favorite dessert of the day and my second most favorite.

Continuing deeper into the Village we found ourselves on one of the prettiest streets in all of Manhattan - Commerce Street - and at Milk and Cookies Bakery.  We were each given a huge double chocolate cookie which was delicious. They also have something called a "design your own dozen" where you can add any of their 25 mix-ins to their base cookie dough...I would love to go back and create my own dozen some time.
We returned to Bleecker Street where we made a unexpected stop at Bisous Ciao Macarons (this stop replaced the hot chocolate from Jacques Torres which is often on the tour - they correctly assumed that as wonderful as the hot chocolate may be, nobody really wanted to try it in the middle of the summer). At this point, I wished I had paced myself a little more as I was starting to get pretty full, but since I have never met a macaron I didn't want to eat, I happily indulged in the dark chocolate one that was offered to me. Pure heaven!

We had now consumed several pieces of chocolate, a full size cupcake, a large cookie and a macaron and were feeling more than a little satisfied. Little did I know I was about to experience my favorite treat of the day -  the "Best Cannoli in New York" at Pasticceria Bruno on La Guardia Place. Our tour guide had called ahead so they could fill the cannoli just as we were about to arrive, as they should be served. The combination of creamy filling and crunchy shell were simply to die for. We felt as though we had been transported to Italy while visiting Bruno's. In addition to the incredible cannoli, all of their pastries looked amazing.
 With one more stop to go on the tour, I wasn't sure I could eat another bite. As we walked towards our next stop in Soho, Caroline shamed me gently encouraged me to enjoy your final stop so I could say I tasted everything on our chocolate tour extravaganza! 

 When we entered Vosges Haute Chocolate on Spring Street, it was a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds...this store is stunning. We were offered small samples of their Barcelona bar - dark chocolate with fleur de sel and marcona almonds. Another person on the tour asked for a sample of the bacon chocolate, so we tried that as well and it was surprisingly good. Frankly, I was so full, I am not sure if I fully appreciated this gourmet chocolate, but I did enjoy seeing the gorgeous store.

We both thoroughly enjoyed this tour and highly recommend it for any chocolate lover! Jessie was an excellent guide...balancing the chocolate aspect of the tour with a lot of fun facts and trivia about lower Manhattan. Since I had purchased a Groupon for this tour, at $35 for two people, it was also an amazing deal.  Now I just have to diet for a week to make up for all the desserts I ate in one afternoon!

(Note: all photos were taken with my iphone...I wish I had taken more photos of the actual desserts we were able to sample but it was impossible to juggle my bag, my phone and the treats...in most cases we were standing up when we ate.)