Mad Hatters NYC

Hot Chocolate Festival at City Bakery

Have you had that experience where you were positive that you hated something, then you tried it again years later and discovered it was absolutely, mindbogglingly delicious?  That’s my story with hot chocolate.

Most of my life I struggled to find a relationship between chocolate (which I worship) and the watery, sickly-sweet, pale liquid that shared its name.  Then we made a trip to France (part of our first trip together as a couple, coincidentally), and on a chilly evening when I desperately craved a warm drink, I decided to give it a try. I was amazed — it was as if someone had taken a rich, chocolate bar and melted it into a cup. I’m not sure I drank anything else the rest of the trip! And mind you, we weren’t at the Ritz Carlton. I ordered hot chocolate at small cafes and restaurants all over Paris and the South of France, and they were all similarly rich and delicious.

Unfortunately, the American palate has no room for such extravagances. Milk and Hershey’s syrup make up most hot chocolate offerings here, so I returned to a hot-chocolate-free existence. Until I discovered City Bakery.

Hot Chocolate Festival City Bakery

Hot Chocolate Festival City Bakery

City Bakery was one of the lucky establishments to make an appearance in Sex and the City: it was featured in the episode where Carrie and Samantha run into the “Face Girl”, the girl who confessed she had dated Aidan after Carrie did, then made a face. (Does anyone else miss that show as much as I do??) Carrie proclaims City Bakery has the best brownie in the city, which was akin to giving it three Michelin stars and a 30-point Zagat rating all at once. It was enough to start a stampede.  When I finally made my way out there the brownie didn’t win me over, but the hot chocolate did. Reminiscent of the thick cups I fell in love with in France, the hot chocolate at City Bakery is rich, strong and very, very chocolaty.  I guess I should have known once I spied the Chocolate Room that I had found my people.

Hot Chocolate Festival City Bakery

Hot Chocolate Festival City Bakery

Every February City Bakery runs a Hot Chocolate Festival, where each day of the month offers a specialty version of their hot chocolate. It’s celebrated with quite a lot of fanfare — on my recent visit the flavor du jour was Sunken Treasure, so the employees donned pirate hats while pennant banners bearing a skull and crossbones hung overhead.  I asked about the Sunken Treasure flavor, and was advised that a dark chocolate truffle and caramel coins were mixed into the already decadent hot chocolate. You could then opt to have a homemade marshmallow plopped into it (I passed, I wanted to show some modicum of restraint).  If death by chocolate were an option, this would be how you’d do it.  Get there before it ends, you have an extra day this leap year to enjoy it!

3 W 18th St

Monday – Friday 7:30am – 7pm
Saturday 8am – 7pm
Sunday 9am – 6pm

Pair it with:

Lunch at Melt Shop

Melt Shop NYC

If you’re one of those rare creatures like myself who believes there’s a separate stomach for dessert, then why not go for broke? Before you indulge in liquid heaven, load up on a carbo-licious grilled cheese sandwich and some tater tots at Melt Shop.  The grilled cheese at Melt Shop has been labeled one of the best in the city, and they proudly stand by their freshly baked bread and artisanal ingredients.  It’ll be a comfort food extravaganza of epic proportions.

55 W 26th St

Mon-Sun 11am to 9pm

– L.

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