I couldn’t have moved to the Lower East Side at a better time. Restaurants and bakeries are springing up right and left, and everywhere I turn, I spot a new place that was not there the day before. It is akin to a never ending magic show – where each moment brings wonderful new surprises. I’m surrounded by a mix of the new, as well as older classics I’ve quickly grown to love like Russ & Daughters and Economy Candy.
Barely two blocks away from my home is the Essex Street Market, notably home to Shopsins, Formaggio Essex and Anne Saxelby’s darling cheese shop. Today marked the official opening of Roni-Sue’s Chocolates, and I stopped in after a long day at work. This invitingly tiny shop is on the east wall of the market, truly a blink-‘n-miss, so keep your eyes out!
Pop in and you’ll be rewarded with eye candy of the sweetest sort, a whole bounty of truffles made by the lady with a warm smile standing right behind the counter – that would be Roni-Sue herself. She patiently walked me through an array of her truffles, each one more enticing than the next. There’s something to catch everyone’s whimsy and wishes, whether you crave flavours of pine nut marzipan, fresh coconut, mint, chili, and if, oddly enough, truffles are not your love, then surely you’ll be enraptured with single nibble of the buttercrunch. More nutty than sweet, it’s a truly buttery toffee with a fine balance between the smooth milk chocolate and caramel crunch.
I am writing this as I eat, or rather, savour my way through this Portly Fig. The thick dark chocolate shell encases a smooth and intense ganache, only disturbed in the best way possible by little crackles of fig seeds from the burnt fig jam. You can make out the slightest doozy of fig vinegar, and should you pay close attention, yes, what is that? Oh yes, a whisper of port wine!
I also picked up a quartet of truffles for Shann, the best apartment-mate anyone could ask for! From left to right: Frida – bittersweet chocolate with espresso, Mexican cinnamon and Kahlua, Strawberry Rhubarb – blended with strawberry and rhubarb puree, then infused with wild strawberry liqueur, Rhubarb jam Mango – with mango puree and an infusion of Galliano liqueur and mango jam, Zydeco – with red chile confit, sweet red pepper leather, red chile jam, fresh chile infused tequila, sea salt and ground mixed dried pepper mélange. The last one plays sister to another spicy truffle, the Diablo, which Roni-Sue cut me a nice sample. It instantly reminded me of Jacques Torres’ wicked hot chocolate, only concentrated into one potent, and memorable truffle. Her truffles are of the homey sort, a distance cry from the delicate perfection of Kee’s and La Maison Du Chocolat. Nonetheless, they’re wonderful for what they are, each truffle warrants three averaged sized bites, enough to satisfy a craving…or perhaps whet you appetite for more.
Truffles run $2, and I can see how this might turn into a nightly addiction, as the chocolate shop is merely steps away from my subway stop. Nonetheless, it’s an addiction of the most wonderful sort, because chocolate, especially dark chocolate, seems to whisk you away in a instant, off to another world where one would remain blissfully content to stay.