Volume 74, Number 27 | November 10 - 16, 2004

The sweet life: Chocolate Show is always in fashion

By Bonnie Rosenstock

You know it’s November when the leaves are ablaze with color, and the welcoming aroma of chocolate wafts through the lobby of the Washington Square Hotel at 103 Waverly Pl. The complimentary spicy Aztec hot chocolate from MarieBelle is how owner Judy Paul greets her guests who have come to town for the annual Chocolate Show. “We like that smell. And we have already sold over 50 packages, which include tickets to the show and a chocolate goodie bag,” Paul says. “The Chocolate Show draws an amazing number of people from all over the United States.”

Photo by Geert Teuwen

Chocolate dress by Larry Abel for Ethel M

The seventh edition of the Chocolate Show, the largest and sweetest of chocolate festivals, sweeps over our eagerly awaiting senses from Thurs., Nov. 11, to Sun., Nov. 14, at the Metropolitan Pavilion and adjacent Altman Building, 125 W. 18th St. The show also draws established brands from across the U.S. and abroad, as well as New York’s own chocolate mavens, including Jacques Torres and Gold Star from Brooklyn; and Koppers, MarieBelle, Martine’s, Chocolat Moderne, Chanit Roston, Gary Null/Nutritious Chocolate and Payard Patisserie from Manhattan. New creations, some by first-time exhibitors, will demonstrate the endless versatility of the simple cacao seed: 23 flavors of molded truffles by Anna Shea Chocolates; organic fruit truffles by Lillie Belle Farms; salt butter caramels by Sans Souci; chocolate sushi (shapes, not the fish kind) and roses (shapes, not the garden kind) by Sugart; pralines and truffles by Amedei of Italy; and dried fruits dipped in Belgian dark chocolate by Laurent Gerbaud Chocolatier Bruxelles. This is definitely not your mother’s chocolate.

If you’d rather not wait for your natural juices to melt the mouth-watering goodness, you can partake in the liquid kind. The Chocolate Lounge, a 1,800-sq.-ft. chocolate-inspired art installation room created by Upstate New York artist and food stylist Nir Adar, will serve cocktail blends of chocolate and spirits during show hours and hold a daily “Happy Hour” from 4-6 p.m. (If you’re interested in solid food, there is an adjoining cafe.) The Chocolate Bar, Greenwich Village’s own retail store and drinkery at 48 Eighth Ave., will debut “Chocolate Lizzy,” a chocolate soda made in collaboration with Fizzy Lizzy. They are also unveiling a new line of retro chocolate bars.

In addition, there are demonstrations by chocolate makers and top pasty chefs, including Pierre Reboul of Wallsé, 344 W. 11th St., who will effortlessly make a milk chocolate and hazelnut flourless cake that is “not as sweet as most Austrian desserts. We have tweaked it a little,” he says.

Other events include a Barnes and Noble cookbook store with book signings; a Children’s Corner; “La Compétition Grand Marnier,” in which four teams (three students and an instructor) from different culinary schools will compete for a $1,000 prize; and music and dance performances presented by grand sponsor Cote d’Ivoire, the world’s largest cacao producing country. Chocolate sculptures and paintings will abound, but the most astounding structure promises to be a 6-ft.-high-by-6-ft.-wide, five-tiered chocolate pagoda representing earth, water, fire, wind and sky by Mary’s Chocolate of Japan.

To get a jumpstart on the incredible edibles, for the second year in a row, the Chocolate Show will unveil the Chocolate Fashion Collection at a cocktail gala/reception to benefit DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS) on Wed., Nov. 10, from 7-9 p.m. Fashion designers and pastry chefs/chocolatiers combine their talents to create unique and scrumptious wearables. Reboul is collaborating with designer Sylvia Heisel. “The dress and coat are made out of silk, and they are beautiful. The accessories — a necklace, little balls on the coat — are chocolate and special tea leaves tied together. Then we’re going to make it entertaining. We will spray chocolate all over everything, including the model’s arms and thighs. We’re going wild this year,” Reboul, an enthusiastic first-timer, says laughing.

The morning of the gala, Nir Adar will erect a “Wall of Memories,” a 37-ft.-long wall of white sugar icing with 1,500 embedded spoons “perfectly aligned to look like a graveyard,” as he describes it. Each spoon holds a fresh strawberry above a trough of melted chocolate. Attendees are invited to bid on a strawberry, dip it in the chocolate and take a moment to reflect on someone who has been lost to AIDS. Proceeds of this “silent auction” will also benefit DIFFA. “First you interact with it and then take part of it down, so that the art itself is part of the memory,” he says.

“A wall is associated with protection, exclusion and memory, or if you’re inside, it’s inclusion. I wanted it to be between the Vietnam War wall in Washington and the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem,” says Adar, 44, who grew up on a kibbutz near Haifa. “The Wailing Wall is the memory of the Temple [destroyed in 70 C.E.]. People put in their wishes [in the cracks in the wall]. In the VietnamWar Memorial, people also leave messages. The moment you pick up the chocolate, you leave a void. It’s a very active moment. You need to be involved even if you don’t donate. It’ll be a strong image in red and white. I can’t wait to see it,” he says.

Fashion Show/Benefit Gala: Nov. 10, 7-9 p.m., $120 ($80 is tax deductible). Chocolate Show: Nov. 11-14, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Metropolitan Pavilion and adjacent Altman Building, 125 W. 18th St. Prices: Adults: $20; senior citizens (65+) and students (ID required): $15; children ages 6-14: $10; children under age 6: Free. For additional information, call the Chocolate Show at 1-866-CHOC-NYC or visit www.chocolateshow.com.

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