Hi! My name is Stephanie Zonis, and
welcome to the April, 1999 edition of "For Chocolate Lovers Only".
Each month you'll find great recipes, tips, and recommendations
on where to find chocolate specialties.
Chocolate Recommendation of
the Month: It is the purpose of this feature to try to introduce
outstanding chocolates to you, the reader. With that in mind,
I am very pleased to tell you about Chocolaterie Bernard C.,
purveyors of small chocolates, chocolate cigars, truffles, sauces,
couverture bars, chocolate drops, and more. There are a vast number
of chocolate companies out there these days, but I must tell you
that I find these chocolates exceptional. The small chocolates
from Chocolaterie Bernard C. are available with 47 different
centers; an additional 20 centers make appearances at special
times of the year. There are assortments, molded chocolates, and
gift boxes (some made of chocolate) for any occasion; you'll definitely
find something that appeals visually to you, and the great taste
of these chocolates will appeal to anyone.
Chocolaterie Bernard C.
has 37 locations in the U.S. and Canada. If there isn't one near
you, check out their website at: www.bernardcchocolate.com, or
call (800)526-6553 to order. If you'd like to get Mom some special
chocolates for Mother's Day--or if you'd like to get terrific
chocolates for any reason--this is a good company to remember.
Special Feature: A Food Lover's
Guide to London. Contrary to anything you've heard, it is
quite possible to eat very well in London these days. It is an
excellent idea (and often a necessity) to reserve ahead, especially
during tourist season; if you don't like crowds, consider eating
at some of the more popular or trendy places for lunch, when there
may be fewer people. Londoners tend to eat at slightly later hours
than many Americans. This is an expensive city, but many places
offer specials for lunch or dinner. Some establishments in the
UK do not accept credit cards, and many will not accept traveller's
checks (even in pounds sterling) for amounts higher than your
purchase. The following is a highly subjective listing of some
good places to eat or buy edibles, in no particular order:
-The River Cafe (Thames
Wharf, Rainville Road, phone: 0171 381 8824). Polished but friendly
service is provided by an efficient and busy young staff in this
low-key place. Recommended dishes: faraona in padella (pan-roasted
guineafowl stuffed with prosciutto, sage, and lemon); chocolate
nemesis. This is one place that lives up to all of the rave reviews
it's received. The menu here changes twice daily. This restaurant
can become noisy, but you'll be too busy savoring your food to
notice. Reserve early. Please do not miss the opportunity to eat
-Alastair Little (49 Frith
St., phone: 0171 734 5183). Very small, almost home-like, and
still upscale without being pretentious. A polite and unobtrusive
staff, and some super food. Recommended dishes: the best Italian
field mushroom risotto in the universe (no, that's not their name
for it--just my commentary); blinis with smoked back salmon and
sour cream; ballotine of foie gras; baked cod, shrimp, and saffron
veloute with mash; creme brulee; chocolate marquis with ginger
sauce. Reserve early at this wonderful place.
-Hilaire (68 Old Brompton
Rd., phone: 0171 584 8993). Quietly classy and small. A gracious
attitude prevails here, especially toward those dining by themselves.
Recommended dishes: chestnut, ham, and lentil soup; crostini of
mushrooms with pigeon, rocket, and truffle oil.
-Wiz (123A Clarendon Rd.,
phone: 0171 229 1500). Funky but pleasant surroundings, the menu
here is based on tapas from all over the world. Order from one
region or several, or let the chef select for you. Recommended
dishes: baked Reblochon en croute with apple jelly; white bean
& rosemary puree. Hard to find due to obscure window signs,
but a great concept, and when the dishes work (not all of them
do), they are very good.
-Brasserie St. Quentin (243
Brompton Rd., phone: 0171 581 5131). A pleasant bistro atmosphere,
service at a relaxed pace, and non-fussy French food. Recommended
dishes: salade St. Quentin; terrine de foie gras. Popular locally.
-Clarke's (124 Kensington
Church St., phone: 0171 221 9225). Set dinner menu (no choice),
but a modest selection of dishes at lunch. Recommended dish: Gascon
style apple, pear, and prune tart with creme fraiche. I love the
little gourmet shop of the same name (it's right next door); you
must not leave without some of their chocolate truffles, which
may just be worth a trip to London all by themselves.
-Cafe Dacquise (20 Thurloe
St., phone: 0171 589 6117). Continental and Polish food. Nothing
fancy, but the food is restorative and filling--and often lower-priced
than in many other places. Very home-like.
-Harvey Nichols (109-125
Knightsbridge, phone: 0171 235 5000). Harrod's may have the
name in food halls in London, but Harvey Nichols doesn't have
the constant mobs of people--and it's just a short walk away.
Nice selections of packaged goods, cheeses, breads, meats, produce,
pastries, chocolates, teas, etc., on the fifth floor. Also a well-reputed
restaurant, which I haven't tried.
-Fortnum & Mason, Ltd.
(181 Piccadilly, phone: 0171 734 8040). Afternoon tea? Certainly,
you can take it here. But you must check out the floor devoted
to foods. Get some Picos de Europa (the best bleu I've ever eaten)
at the cheese counter, scout around to find a pastry or two to
savor, then head for the chocolate counter--good bets are Pierre
Marcolini and Slitti. Preserves, packaged goods, and much more--and
a helpful staff to boot.
-Neal's Yard Dairy (17 Short's
Gardens, phone: 0171 379 7646). A small shop crammed full of British
Isles cheeses, other delicacies, knowledgeable staff, and, often,
customers. These are real cheeses, not the ersatz nonsense
found too often in the US, and many are produced by small manufacturers.
The staff are passionate about these products; if you find that
funny, it's only because you haven't tried any of their cheeses
-Books for Cooks (4 Blenheim
Crescent, phone: 0171 221 1992). A mecca for cookbook lovers and
collectors, this cheerful shop also features lunch, coffee, and
cakes from their test kitchen. Great, non-hurried atmosphere.
These people care about food, and that in itself is enough reason
-Fileric (57 Old Brompton
Rd., phone: 0171 584 2967). The best single item I tried at this
caterer's/delicatessen/pastry shop was "L'Etoile", layers of chocolate
sponge cake with a whipped ganache filling. Rich, chocolatey,
light, and delicious. Other pastries weren't as good.
-Patisserie Valerie (several
locations, including 215 Brompton Rd. (Knightsbridge) and 44 Old
Compton St. (Soho)). Popular locally. Lots of gorgeous-looking
pastries, but by far the best I tried was a giant cream puff filled
with whipped cream, with a coffee glaze on top. I never saw a
name attached to this pastry; I just pointed and they understood--the
language of love at work!
-Rococo Chocolates (321
Kings Rd., phone: 071 352 5857). Chocolate bars, small chocolates,
pastilles, and much more are featured at this charming little
shop. Make sure you try the truffles and Rococo's 60% dark chocolate
bar. Valrhona bars are sold here, too, as are organic, artisanal
bars flavored with wild mint leaves, pink peppercorns, or Earl
Grey tea, among others. An important stop on any London chocolate
-The Chocolate Society (36
Elizabeth St., phone: 0171 259 9222). What will grab your attention
first here? Will it be the truffles piled high in large bowls,
or the small chocolates sitting quietly in their display cases
and calling your name? Whatever it is, the friendly staff here
will calm your chocolate cravings. Valrhona is used as the couverture
for their small chocolates. Ice cream in summer and hot chocolate
in winter, too.
Do you have a comment, question
or suggestion? I'd like your input into this column. You can reach
me at: firstname.lastname@example.org;
please specify that you're writing regarding "For Chocolate Lovers
Only". Thank you!