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Help me find a chocolatier

Yaqo Homo Jan 1, 2007 06:22 PM

I am looking for a chamring, boutique-y venue to purchase fine chocolates for a gift.

Below 14th street would be preferred.

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    stagegurl RE: Yaqo Homo Jan 1, 2007 06:29 PM

    oh my friend there is only one place to go.
    the mecca of chocolate.
    jacques torres chocolate 350 hudson st at king st one block south of houston.
    AMAZING!
    expensive yes but the man is a chocolate god.

    1. j
      jsgjewels RE: Yaqo Homo Jan 1, 2007 06:31 PM

      The only place to go is actually Kee's Chocolates (80 Thompson), completely boutique-y, she makes the chocolates in front of you right in the tiny shop, and they are fresh and heavenly.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jsgjewels
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        nativeNYer RE: jsgjewels Jan 1, 2007 06:38 PM

        no..no... no.... no... no.... : ) the place to go is pierre marcolini at 485 park avenue. my friend gave me a small box this christmas. i almost died. i know you wanted something below 14th but, believe me , this is worth the schlep. info@marcolinichocolatier.com. he makes his chocolate from scratch from cocoa beans from venezuela, madagascar, equador and mexico. won world champion pastry chef in 1995. i am not a chocolate expert so maybe the others know more than me but my friend who bought these has a fair amount of knowledge of chocolate. YUM!!!

      2. g
        gutsofsteel RE: Yaqo Homo Jan 1, 2007 06:51 PM

        Agree about Kee's being the best below 14th St. Chocolates are interesting, creative, excellent quality, and always fresh. She is a passionate chocolate maker - she studied under Torres and imho, surpassed him. They are made on the premises, so they will always be fresher than the chocolates imported from Europe.

        Kee's is a cut above Torres, Li-Lac, Martine's, Marie Belle, Vosges, Leonidas.

        As far as the European chocolatiers represented in the city are concerned...I think Teuscher (Swiss) is the best, followed by Maison du Chocolat (French), followed by Richart (French), followed by Marcolini (Belgian), followed by Neuhaus (Belgian). Michel Cluizel and Fauchon (both French) are good runners up.

        4 Replies
        1. re: gutsofsteel
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          chocokitty RE: gutsofsteel Jan 1, 2007 11:00 PM

          I concur. Kee's is the best chocolatier below 14th St. Torres is the next best after Kee's.

          I don't really love Vosges that much - it's different and they carry exotic flavors but it doesn't rock my world.

          If I have to put a top 5 list of all the great chocolatiers in the Manhattan; it would be: (but this is my opinion; you don't have to agree with me)
          1. Kee's
          2. La Maison du Chocolat
          3. Richart
          4. Marcolini
          5. Michel Cluizel

          1. re: chocokitty
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            CornflakeGirl RE: chocokitty Jan 1, 2007 11:44 PM

            I'm with you on the Vosges chocolates. I feel like they have a mass-produced appeal.

            Originally we bought the bars on a semi-regular basis. Red Fire and the wasabi were hits.

            I noticed recently that they'd come out with about 4-6 new flavors. We tried a couple and were completely disappointed. I think they may be trying to grow too quickly.

            They also have some baked goods that are pre-packaged and look about as good as what you'd expect from the corner deli.

            I was never impressed with the individual chocolates or the caramel marshmallow. And it kills me because they put out a gorgeous catalog (sorry, I'm a graphic artist) and have a beautiful shop. I feel like it's all smoke and mirrors.

            Kee's would be my #1 choice as well. She's so sweet and accommodating. The only downside is that she frequently runs out.

            She definitely needs to expand a bit. I recently learned that their only refrigeration is the display case on the counter. It's time to invest in another refrigerator.

            1. re: CornflakeGirl
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              jeanki RE: CornflakeGirl Jan 21, 2007 07:46 PM

              I agree re: Vosges. I splurged on a box of truffles after hearing a lot of hype about them and found them underwhelming. I only found the Naga curry flavored one original and exciting, but the rest were just ok.

              I definitely have to make a Kee's run eventually. Last time I tried to go it was closed :(. Jacques Torres is very good but not the best ever that I've had (I like his lemon flavored and chili spiked chocolate a lot though.) (You can also find a nice assortment of his chocolate at Chocolate Bar in the Meatpacking District just south of 14th street near Hudson).

              I just went to Belgium and sadly did not have time to find a Marcolini store since I've heard it makes the NYC one pale in comparison.

          2. re: gutsofsteel
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            Andy T. RE: gutsofsteel Jan 2, 2007 03:53 PM

            Just curious: why is Debauve + Gallais not on your European list? Too expensive? Not to your liking? Dangerous neighborhood? ;)

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            TipsyMcStagger RE: Yaqo Homo Jan 1, 2007 07:05 PM

            Not below 14th St, but I recently bought a gift box for my sister from Martine's Chocolates. She enjoyed it very much.

            Martine's is located on 82nd and 1st, but they're sold in Bloomingdales as well.

            Tipsy

            1. Yaqo Homo RE: Yaqo Homo Jan 1, 2007 07:08 PM

              You Chowhounds are something else. Alas, Kee's and J. Torres are closed today. Keep the suggestions coming!

              2 Replies
              1. re: Yaqo Homo
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                gutsofsteel RE: Yaqo Homo Jan 1, 2007 07:10 PM

                If you need them today - even if you do find somebody open (doubtful) - don't buy chocolates. If anybody is open - the chocolates won't be fresh. Get something else.

                1. re: gutsofsteel
                  Yaqo Homo RE: gutsofsteel Jan 1, 2007 07:29 PM

                  I found out I have one additional half-day to complete my task, so first thing Tuesday morning I will investigate some of the suggestions offered. Thanks again

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                rjm RE: Yaqo Homo Jan 1, 2007 08:12 PM

                La Maison Du Chocolate - Madison & 78th - Definitely worth the treck. It's the best.

                1. k
                  kobetobiko RE: Yaqo Homo Jan 1, 2007 08:28 PM

                  You can try Vosges Haut for some rare and exotic (and of course expensive) chocolates. The address:

                  Vosges Haut-Chocolat Boutiques

                  New York – SoHo
                  132 Spring Street
                  Ring: 212.625.2929
                  Hours: Daily 11-8

                  You may want to call to see if they are open today.

                  They also have a store at NYC Bergdorf Goodman. The link to the official website for more information is:

                  http://www.vosgeschocolate.com/boutiques

                  Hope you get what you want! Happy New Year!

                  1. h
                    HLing RE: Yaqo Homo Jan 1, 2007 11:56 PM

                    Add one more whole hearted vote for Kee's from me, please!

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                      nativeNYer RE: Yaqo Homo Jan 2, 2007 12:50 AM

                      Wow. you all ARE amazing. i am afraid to try the others that are better than marcolini!! thanks so much!

                      1. ellenost RE: Yaqo Homo Jan 2, 2007 04:04 PM

                        Even though it's north of your requested neighborhood, I'd make a special trip to Leonidas on Madison & E. 51 St. I love their authentic Belgian chocolates.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ellenost
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                          eve RE: ellenost Jan 2, 2007 08:50 PM

                          Ditto--these are my all time favorites. And except for Kee's, have tried the rest. I need to do a sampling there soon.

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                          puss58 RE: Yaqo Homo Jan 2, 2007 04:22 PM

                          There's also a Leonidas downtown at Hanover Square

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                            poorstudent RE: Yaqo Homo Jan 21, 2007 01:23 AM

                            neuhaus

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                              kafka1 RE: Yaqo Homo Jan 21, 2007 01:45 AM

                              Hi, I am from belgium and I strongly recommend Neuhaus and Marcolini. Leonidas is kinda the Belgian Hershey.

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                                poorstudent RE: Yaqo Homo Feb 7, 2007 09:18 PM

                                if u want to impress get Neuhaus but they're at midtown and upper west side

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