When you walk in, Jacques Torres' place is decorated nicely with Halloween colors and decorations with plenty of cool chocolate, industrial stuff littered around. Burlap sacks of cocoa beans, pipes, scales, and more sacks. You can see the factory through windows and it isn't the quaint factory of handmade chocolates like Chocolate Springs, where you see a chef or two laboring with the odd scale or tempering machine or blast chiller creating chocolates by hand, no, you see his whole chocolate manufacturing and engineering empire, all controlled by a push of a button. You tremble. You are in the presence of the chocolate king and you are afraid. So, you buy a piece of chocolate and scurry across the street to the familiar and comforting Starbucks where, to your horror, you notice, too late, a large cup of Wicked hot chocolate in your hands.
Let me paint you a word picture of what I want my chocolate shop to look like. I have a vision for two types of chocolate shops, the elegant sophisticated shop and the country chocolate shop. (I'm not even sure what a country chocolate shop is but I like it.) So, you have the city and country dichotomy. You walk in and the the floor is marble, so is the ceiling. (Or it's rustic hardwood and the ceiling is rough beams of wood.) The tables are marble cafe tables with wrought iron, cushions on the seats of the chairs, also wrought iron. The chairs not the cushions. (Or the chairs are all wood, perhaps benches, with country doilies, which are what exactly? I don't know but I want 'em, and country flowers on the tables.)
The counters, be they chic or rustic, are chock full of chocolates, caramels, ganaches, nutbutter cups, bark, chocolate bars, and yes, there is hot chocolate with porcelain chocolateieres to serve it in and porcelain cups with which to drink it. Plus hay stacks, other candies and the like. Where is this place in the US? No where. I challenge you, O Reader, to find it and tell me about it. I must go.
Every time I walk into a chocolate shop it is a chocolate shop plus cafe, bistro and even deli. Sigh. The closest is Jacques Torres' place but still it's more modern industrial hot chocolate pump than rustic or uptown haute confections and petit fours with women smartly dressed in linen or wool dresses, depending on the season, and men wearing blue sport's jackets with college ties and gray or tan pants, depending on the season. It's nice but not as elegant as I was lead to believe by the web pictures. Nice marketing, Chef Torres, but you didn't fulfill my fantasies. I still would like to take a chocolate workshop with you.
I guess I'll have to do my own fantasy chocolate shop at the Greenville Arms. It's going to be a compromise but it'll be great. I'm going to have hot chocolate and I'm going to get chocolatieres. Maybe not right out of the gate but that's the plan. No deli, no pastry, no food other than confections. (I hope.)
In the meantime, call us, 518 966 5219, and order, that is buy, some chocolate. Yes, we'll have a display case and yes we'll have it crammed full of elegant and flavorful chocolates and yes there will be elegant tables and chairs and a great uptown country setting in which to eat them. Come on in and see.