As of last weekend, I’ve officially deemed Sundays ‘Cave’ days. Cave days are days where I have absolutely nothing scheduled for myself. I can wake up anytime of the day; go anywhere and eating anything I want. I do all this by myself. It’s wonderful to have company and good friends to eat and celebrate with, but sometimes there’s nothing quite as rewarding as saving one entire day for no one but yourself.
Sunday morning, I woke up near noon, and the only reason I didn’t wake up later was because the sun was shining in my face and I was too lazy to reposition myself. Two more yawns and a few morning stretches, I moved on to the kitchen, toasted slices of ciabatta and smeared on generous servings of pesto and dollops of burrata purchased from DiPalo’s just yesterday afternoon. Breakfast concoction arranged on a glass plate, I returned to my room, hopped over the bed and made a cozy seat along the windowsill over looking Rivington Street. I did my normal Sunday routine: organize the closet, ‘clean’ the room, check email & blog & more blogs & even more blogs…man, reading food blogs could potentially be your entire life!
And then I set off. I set off without checking the weather report, because that’s what happens when you are born and raised in Hawaii. Everyday is warm. Some days are warmer. Others are cooler. But it’s mostly the same. So you could imagine my shock when I stepped out into the cold, windy air that appeared deceivingly nice and sunny from five stories up. I decided not to go back and fetch a sweater because I knew if I’d end up curling peacefully back into bed for a nice, long nap. Because it is Sunday.
So I continue on, in search of warm sweet deliciousness that would warm my chilly bones. Barely a minute out the door and fingers are already starting to turn blue! I don’t have a destination in mind – that’s what usually happens when I go for strolls with food as an ending objective. I set foot out the door and start walking. I walked west on Houston that day, and I kept on walking from the LES past East Village, Soho, and finally West Village. It was so cold and I really had no clue where I was going. All I wanted was a super hot cup of something sweet to warm me from the inside out. Actually. I realized. I wanted hot chocolate.
A quick run-through of my mental storage box for potential hot chocolate spots, I made a quick left, across a few more streets and out of the windy cold and straight into the warmth of Jacques Torres.
The store was near empty when I entered, save for four workers quietly arranging chocolates like you would imagine in a movie of sorts. Fall decorations up in the air: pumpkins of all shapes, autumn leaves and the soothing hum of the espresso machine in the background.
I ordered a cup of Wicked Hot Chocolate, picked a high table between the chocolate bar and case of baked goods, whipped out my journal and had the most relaxing hour all week. I held the paper cup warm in my hands and first sipped the creamy top that was quickly forming a chocolate ‘skin’ if you will. This hot chocolate is not near thick as City Bakery’s famous creation, but I like it better. It’s dark and richly intoxicating yet thin enough to call a ‘drink’ without feeling as if you’re simply downing melted chocolate bars.
The surface gives way to a rich liquid with just enough of a spicy punch right as it hits your throat. It a tingly sort of heat, that pleasantly lingers as mild afterthought…much like that reflexive smile that forms on your face when you think happy thoughts!
The cup of chili spiked chocolate was gone before I knew it. My fingers were no longer blue (thank god!) and I was all warm and content. Ahhhh. It was a wonderful feeling! I turned my head to observe the action around me. There store welcomed a slow but steady stream of customers. Oddly enough, the majority of customers were either young couples or dads with toddlers in tot…not a single mom in sight!
I spotted the mudslide cookies I love so much, and contemplated for a brief second about purchasing one…but my mind quickly changed as it registered an Almond Meringue Cake displayed right behind the cookies.
Almonds! Bananas! Dark Chocolate! All together? Woohoo! It didn’t take much thought before I leap out off the seat and to the register to call this slice of cake my own.
Manuvering the fork from top down, you’ first crackle though the crisp sugar dusted meringue shell, into the depths of an unusually moist, dense cake – purely almond in flavour with a deliciously grainy texture from all the ground nuts. At the base of the meringue are two distinct layers: a banana puree, and a thicker layer of bittersweet chocolate ganache, all on a flaky, but unremarkable short crust. I could have done without anything but the almond meringue itself and leave more than content. The bananas and chocolate took it to another notch – not necessarily up a more notch, but gave the dessert another dimension, another direction. Some might prefer it with the bananas and chocolate, making it sweeter and more complex, but after that divine cup of Wicked Hot Chocolate, it was definitely the moist meringue which I treasured most.
350 Hudson at King Street
NY, NY 10014