This Week in Food: Chili Cook-Off, Hot Chocolate Party, and Southern Dinner Series

Chili Cook-Off for Charity
The Brooklyn Kitchen (100 Frost Street, Brooklyn)
Monday, 3 p.m.

The Brooklyn Kitchen is hosting a chili cook-off, with proceeds going to benefit the Greenpoint Reform Church Food Relief Program. For $5, guests can sample a variety of home made chilis, with amateur chefs invited to participate too. Score a ticket here.

Valrhona Hot Chocolate Festival Kickoff Party
Ladurée Soho (398 West Broadway)
Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Valrhona is hosting a kickoff party for its upcoming hot chocolate week (January 21 – February 5) where guests can get an early look at the unique hot chocolates that will be available. This year’s participating bakeries include La Maison du Chocolate, Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery, and Dominique Ansel Kitchen. Tickets are $35 and include unlimited hot chocolate and bites; rsvp here.

Kreung Cambodian Food Pop Up
The Diamond (43 Franklin Street, Brooklyn)
Thursday, 6 p.m.

Chef Chakria Un is hosting a Cambodian food pop up featuring dishes like corn with coconut milk and birds eye chili, a peanut and shrimp tamale, and noodle stir fry. Drinks are available for purchase.

Roots of Southern Cooking Dinner Series
Root and Bone (200 East Third Street)
Thursday, 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. seatings

Root and Bone is hosting a series of three dinners beginning this Thursday that focus on historical Southern cooking. Dinners – $100 per person – will focus on a specific year and location with this week’s dinner based on The Virginia Housewife  and The Unrivaled Cookbook and Housekeeper’s Guide. The menu includes fried chicken and chicken pudding, rice waffles, and huckleberry pie. Additional dinners are scheduled for February 28 and March 29; rsvp here.

Talk and Tasting
Honeybrains (372 Lafayette Street)
Thursday, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Beginning this Thursday, Honeybrains will host one hour weekly presentations focused on food and wellness. This week’s discussion will feature Honeybrains co-founder and neurologist Dr. Alon Seifan and his family. A reception will follow. Additional guest speakers include nutritionist and author Amy von Sydow Green as well as Dr. Richard Isaacson of Weill Cornell Medicine.


Best Weekend Food Events: Ice Wine Festival, Dr. John Cajun Boil, Super Bowl Sunday

City Bakery Hot Chocolate Festival, City Bakery, 3 West 18th Street, Friday through February 29th

Grab a one-of-a-kind hot chocolate flavor every day during February at City Bakery’s annual hot chocolate festival. This weekend’s flavors include a creamy stout hot chocolate on Friday, a “happy” flavor made with vanilla bean and milk chocolate, and a Super Bowl Sunday flavor.

Ice Wine Festival, Rooftop Reds at Brooklyn Navy Yard, 63 Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn, Friday and Saturday, 6:30 p.m./2 p.m.

If you’re tired of stuffy indoor wine tastings, then taste the beauty of ice wine on a chilly rooftop. The seasonal wine — made by freezing grapes while still on the vine — will also be accompanied by an ice-art installation. General admission tickets ($50 per person) include two ice wines, a hot toddy, and a mulled wine; all drinks come with a custom food pairing. There’s also a VIP package for $80 which includes everything offered in the general admission package plus six wine tastings, additional food, a private lounge area, and gift certificates.

Sex and Chocolate with Fine & Raw Chocolate, Babeland Brooklyn, 462 Bergen Street, Brooklyn, Friday, 7 p.m.

Babeland is offering a free workshop for people interested in the mysterious powers of chocolate. Guests will sample complimentary champagne and chocolate courtesy of Fine & Raw chocolatiers, with an instructor guiding the conversation on how to incorporate the sweet into your Valentine’s Day plans. The first ten guests to arrive will receive a gift, while one guest will walk away with a $50 gift basket and a private tasting tour at the Fine & Raw chocolate factory.

Crawfish Boil featuring Dr. John and The Nite Trippers, The Hall at MP, 470 Driggs Avenue, Brooklyn, Friday and Saturday, 7 p.m.

Looking to get a jump start on Fat Tuesday? The Hall at MP hosts NOLA legend Dr. John, with guests feasting on bayou fried shrimp and jambalaya with andouille sausage. Large groups from eight to twelve guests can also order up a whole Cajun roasted pig. Reservations are required.

Super Bowl Viewing Parties, Multiple Locations, Sunday

While there’s no place exactly like your sofa to watch the big game, plenty of restaurants and bars across the city are broadcasting the big game so you don’t have to. In the West Village, Rosemary’s is hosting a pig roast complete with complimentary snacks for the table and $20 pitchers of select beer (reserve here). If you’re seeking the city’s biggest screen, grab a seat in front of the 12 by 12 monster at the Four Seasons’s TY Bar, which will offer a menu of Carolina and Denver inspired dishes like pulled pork sliders and bison cheeseburgers. Additional venues broadcasting the game and serving food and drink specials include Bushwick’s new movie theater Syndicated, Boulton & Watt in the East Village, and Treadwell Park on the Upper East Side.


Best Weekend Food Events: Hot Chocolate Festival, Pig Party, and Tiki Night

Valhrona Hot Chocolate Festival, Multiple Locations, Saturday through January 31

Discover new and under-the-radar hot chocolate creations during this week-long celebration. A selection from New York’s best bakeries include a salted caramel hot chocolate at Baked, Doughnut Plant’s tres leches white hot chocolate, and a raspberry and orange blossom version at François Payard. Fifty cents from each hot chocolate purchased will be donated to City Harvest.

Chelsea: Comparative Brew Method Demo, Blue Bottle Coffee, 450 West 15th Street, Saturday, 2 p.m. 

Learn the art of coffee brewing methods including French press, Aeropress, Chemex, and pour-over at this free workshop. Students will learn the different purposes and history surrounding each brewing technique, with tastings for each style included too.

Pinot Days, City Winery, 155 Varick Street, Saturday, 12 to 8 p.m.

Grab a glass and enjoy over 100 examples of pinot noir done right. Pinot from regions including Russian River Valley and the Santa Lucia Highlands will be open. VIP tickets include early access and seated small group tastings with the winemakers. For those interested in food pairings, a dinner featuring fifteen wines and a three-course Mediterranean style menu will take place starting at 4:30 p.m. General admission tickets start at $75 and can be reserved here.

Cochon 555, Weylin B. Seymour’s, 175 Broadway, Brooklyn, Sunday, 5 to 8 p.m

This pork-centric national tour makes its New York stop this weekend, with five chefs creating over 30 dishes using nothing but a whole pig. The nose-to-tail competition includes chefs from Upland, Vic’s, and Hecho en Dumbo. The event includes five winemakers suggesting pairings for each dish. General admission starts at $130.95 and can be purchased here.

Tiki Night, Wallflower, 235 W 12th Street, Sunday, 6 p.m. to 12 a.m.

Mace and Miracle on Ninth Street head honcho Nico De Soto is making a guest appearance at Wallflower for a tiki-themed party. Drinks include a riff off the zombie, while a special Polynesian-themed menu with dishes like papaya salad and arroz caldo will be offered by the kitchen.


What’s Happening This Weekend…Besides The Super Bowl

If you’re super tired of the out of town NFL takeover of Bryant Park, Broadway, and any other patch of walking space in the more touristy swatches of the city, we feel you. Here’s a look at a few local events that have nothing to do with football.

The Art of Alabama Food, Chelsea Market, 75 Ninth Avenue, Friday through Sunday

This Chelsea Market exhibit looks at regional Alabama cuisine, exploring tomato pie, crawfish, and orange rolls at the hands of Alabama-based chefs. Gallery hours are from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Ferran Adrià: Notes on Creativity, The Drawing Center, 35 Wooster Street, Friday through February 28

The infamous Spanish chef and international culinary figure will have original drawings on display as well as photographs from elBulli restaurant. Be sure to check out the film 1846, too, which showcases every single dish ever served at elBulli. The center opens at noon Friday through Sunday and will be open until 6 p.m. each night.

Hot Chocolate Festival, City Bakery, 3 West 18th Street, Saturday through February 28th

Enjoying chocolate in February isn’t just restricted to Valentine’s Day. At City Bakery, each day brings a different flavored hot chocolate. Last year’s flavors included Vietnamese cinnamon, ginger, and creamy stout hot cocoa, so there’s no telling what the wizards in the back will brew up this time.

Dub Pie Truck at Brooklyn Night Bazaar, Brooklyn Night Bazaar, 165 Banker Street, Brooklyn, Saturday, 6 p.m.

If you haven’t had the time to try New Zealand cuisine, Dub Pies will be on hand at Brooklyn Night Bazaar to debut its new food truck. Specializing in meat and veggie pies as well as flat whites for caffeine addicts, attendees can grab a bite while listening to the band Streets of Laredo.


Merry Christmas! Here’s a Recipe for Peppery and Boozy Hot Cocoa

As the winter cold slowly seesaws its way into our weather routines and families gather for holiday celebrations, many a mug of hot cocoa will be made. But instead of just the same old hot chocolate recipe, why not spruce things up with a few spicy and boozy additions? It’s time for the winter time classic to get an adult update. Here, in honor of your midweek day off, we have three recipes for you to try with New York spirits, unique cocoa mixes, and delicious peppery improvements.

Spiced Hot Chocolate
by Micaela Piccolo, Distilled NY
1 ounce Frangelico
1 ounce tequila
4 cups whole milk
1 (3.1-ounce) disc Mexican chocolate*
1 cinnamon stick
Chipotle powder or chili powder
*Can be found in Hispanic and gourmet grocery stores

In a heavy sauce pot over medium-high heat, bring the milk, cinnamon stick, and chocolate to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes, whisking constantly until the mixture is frothy and the chocolate has dissolved completely. Meanwhile, in a coffee mug, add Frangelico, tequila, and a pinch of chipotle powder or chili powder to taste. When the chocolate is ready, remove it from heat and add it to the cocktail. Garnish with a little bit of sprinkled cinnamon and chipotle powder and serve.

The Dolce Vite Chocolatto® Spicy Toddy
by Warren Bobrow

1 ounce Dolce Vite Chocolatto® hot chocolate mix
1/2 ounce Brooklyn Roasting Company Columbian Coffee Liqueur
1/2 ounce Owney’s Vanilla Bean Small Batch Rum
1/2 ounce espresso coffee
3 ounces Steamed whole milk
Extremely tiny pinch of cayenne pepper
Bitter Truth Orange Bitters

Mix together Dolce Vite Chocolatto® mix with the milk and espresso and bring to a boil. Heat until thick. Add the rum and the coffee liqueur to the hot chocolate and stir to combine. Top with a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper over the top. Add a shake or two of the Bitter Truth Orange bitters over the top of the cayenne pepper. Spoon and enjoy.

by Mayur Subbarao, Louro Restaurant

10 drops Bittermens Xocolatl mole bitters
1/2 ounce Bittermens New Orleans Coffee Liqueur
3/4 ounce Fidencio Mezcal Clasico
3/4 ounce Lemon Hart 151 Demerara Rum
5 ounce Piri-piri-spiced hot chocolate* (Grind 1/4 dried piri piri pepper into 4 teaspoons of your favorite cocoa and add the mix to 5 ounces of milk. Warm it while whisking. Or, see note below.)
Cinnamon stick for garnish

Heat 8-ounce glass or mug by rinsing with boiling water. Add all ingredients in order they’re listed. Grate cinnamon and serve.

*Note: Louro’s makes their piri-piri cocoa in larger batches. If you wish to do the same, shave 4 ounces dark chocolate (60 percent), add 1 ounce raw sugar and 0.5 ounces dutch process cocoa and grind 1 dried piri piri pepper into the mix and blend. Use 4 teaspoons of the mix for 5 ounces milk per individual serving. Yields 8 servings.


The 10 Best Hot Chocolates in NYC, 2013

Surely one of winter’s greatest treasures, a mug of hot chocolate can feel as restorative as a multi-dimensional meditative trance (FYI: nirvana looks like Beyonce eating a cronut). No matter how cold or dreary it gets, this elixir with ancient roots — the Mayans beat us to it by at least two millennia — has likely put more smiles on people’s faces than antidepressants. Whether staying traditional with plain milk, adding complementary flavors, or spiking your murky brew with booze, New York’s frigid months were made for hot chocolate. Here are the city’s 10 best.

10. Martha’s Country Bakery, 70-28 Austin Street, Queens; 718-544-0088

This Queens-based mini-chain goes beyond the standard cup of cocoa, serving up peanut butter, red velvet, and cinnamon-inflected Mexican varieties. In business since 1972, the bakeries all sport modern design elements like exposed brick and natural wood. Still, you’re more likely to find locals inhaling slices of cake than laptop-toting bloggers typing away between sips of macchiatos. The hot chocolate is smooth and rich with a light milkiness, and on occasion, you might just find a chocolate syrup smiley face staring back up at you.

9. MarieBelle, 484 Broome Street; 212-925-6999

Maribel Lieberman celebrates chocolate in all its opulence at her flamboyant SoHo shop and cafe famous for its ornate hand-painted ganache. Thirsty travelers can grab a cup to go in the powder blue shop up front, but the full range of hot chocolate options is best explored in the back cafe, where pampered pamperers pamper themselves with mesmeric drinking chocolates ranging from 60 to 80 percent cocoa content. Full of smoky fire, the chipotle and ancho-tinged spicy hot chocolate is particularly invigorating, though if you’re in the market for a liquid hug, check out the decadent white chocolate and hazelnut milk chocolate varieties, which coat the palate in a blanket of dairy richness.

8. Oro Bakery & Bar, 375 Broome Street; 212-941-6368

During the day, Dorina Yuen’s sliver of a space functions as a charming neighborhood cafe serving all manner of pastries, sweet treats, and coffee beverages from cortado to café au lait. Yuen’s hot chocolate is sugary and mild — perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up. At night, Oro transforms into a charming wine bar, and that hot chocolate is available spiked. We can think of plenty worse ways to while away a chilly evening than commiserating over boozy hot cocoa until it’s pajama time.

7. Lavazza at Eataly, 200 Fifth Avenue; 646-398-5100

Revered Italian coffee roaster Lavazza operates a small shop at the eastern mouth of Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s buzzing mega market, brewing up aromatic cups of java for the many patrons passing through the busy thoroughfare. Thick enough to lightly coat a spoon, the cafe’s ‘cioccolata con panna’ arrives dark and burnished; a wavy cloud of whipped cream sinks just below the surface, submerged under its own heft. Along with the rosticceria’s prime rib panini, the molten chocolate is one of Eataly’s best offerings — though good luck getting any shopping done if you try to consume them during the same visit.

6. Nunu Chocolates; 529 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn; 917-776-7102

Self-taught chocolate impresarios Justine Pringle and Andy Laird whip up an ethereal cup of hot chocolate at their Boerum Hill cafe and production space. The warm space, heavy on wood accents, smells like what Augustus Gloop would have wet dreamed about if he’d lived to reach puberty. Light in texture but deep in flavor thanks to 65 percent dark chocolate shavings, the shards are whisked into steamed and foamed milk; the beverage receives a final sprinkle of shavings. In its simplicity, Nunu’s standard brew is pleasantly bitter with only a back note of sweetness. A spicy version with creeping chili heat is also offered.

5. Jacques Torres, 66 Water Street, Brooklyn; 718-875-9772

At Mr. Chocolate’s flagship retail shop, Torres melts chocolate into an intense cocoa slurry. Though he’s moved the bulk of his production to an expansive industrial space in Sunset Park’s Brooklyn Army Terminal, the bean baron’s DUMBO location still makes for an uplifting excursion. Spice lovers take note: other outfits may purport to serve spicy hot chocolates, but Torres’ Wicked version — ground with allspice, cinnamon, ancho, and chipotle chili peppers — delivers the most satisfying kick.

4. Le Churro, 1236 Lexington Avenue; 646-649-5253

This Upper East Side micro-focused fast food concept specializes in Spanish-style churros con chocolate, the latter of which is available in eight different varieties including chili, sea salt, mint, cinnamon, orange, Nutella, and peanut butter cup. Spanish churros are shorter and chewier than their sugar-spackled Mexican counterparts, with a lightly crisp exterior which yields with each dip. This is viscous stuff — molten, creamy, and dark. Thank goodness “churro pairings” aren’t a thing that exist yet, but we can’t help but tack on a cone of churros with milk caramel sauce to our order of sea salt hot chocolate.

3. L.A. Burdick, 5 East 20th Street; 212-796-0143

Chocolatier Larry Burdick brings the same obsessive attention to detail that he applies to his confections to the delectable menu of hot chocolates available at his Flatiron shop — the only location in New York (the others are in New England). White, milk, and dark hot chocolates are available and can be blended to create custom “black and white” versions. Better yet, add a slug of whiskey, rum, or kirsch cherry liqueur to your mug for a spirituous and quaffable elixir — part cocktail, part dessert.

2. City Bakery, 3 West 18th Street; 212-366-1414

Maury Rubin’s venerable bakery has earned its place as a destination-worthy detour for lovers of baked goods and hot chocolate, especially during the month of February, when the company holds a hot chocolate festival (now in its 22nd year) featuring special varieties every day of the month. Previous years have featured Earl Grey, lemon, and creamy stout experiments. The classic hot chocolate is archetypal: intensely rich in flavor without turning into sludge and slightly sweet without compromising in complexity. There’s hardly a more alluring winter sight than one of the sturdy house-made marshmallows bobbing on the surface of a cup of City Bakery hot chocolate.

1. Roni-Sue Chocolates, 148 Forsyth Street; 212-677-1216

Chocolate-covered ‘Pig Candy’ might be the hot ticket item at Rhonda Kave’s inventive chocolate shop, but her hot chocolate is an undeniable seasonal must. Built on the backbone of organic Belizean beans harvested in the Moho River Valley, the beverage hits the palate with a mild sweetness, which gives way to deep cocoa notes, slightly fruity from registering at 60 percent cocoa content. The chocolate is melted and whisked into steamed milk, drinkable with an almost syrupy quality. If somehow this potent refreshment isn’t luxurious enough for you, try melting a stick of that pig candy into your cup. Mmm…bacon hot chocolate.


Chocolatto: Better than Hot Cocoa

There is a new warm chocolate confection making its way onto restaurant menus and grocery shelves across New York, and it’s worth tossing out the packages of thin and chalky hot cocoa to try it. It’s called Dolce Vite Chocolatto, and it was inspired by luxurious Italian hot chocolate.

A mix between your usual hot cocoa and a warmed chocolate pudding, Dolce Vite Chocolatto is heaven for any chocolate lover and a welcome change to the usual wintry drink roster. The drink also has an out-of-the-box marketing campaign, which includes a music video and a man dressed like a shirtless spoon to hand out samples in Brooklyn Bridge Park. We caught up with proprietor Christina Summers to learn more about the company.

I LIKE IT THICK! Chocolatto is Back! from Dolce Vite Forever Young on Vimeo.

What is Chocolatto, and how is it different from other hot chocolates on the market?
Chocolatto is not traditional hot chocolate. First, Chocolatto is thick and eaten with a spoon. First-time tasters compare it to a hot mousse or pudding. Second, Chocolatto is a low-calorie chocolate dessert — it’s made with low fat cocoa. Third, there are no GMOs, preservatives or artificial colors or flavors, and, finally, it can be made vegan with soy milk, nut milk, or water.

Why are you passionate about Chocolatto?
I was in Sicily the first time I tasted Italian-style hot chocolate, and it was love at first spoon. There was no going back to regular hot chocolate. Italians are famous for their foods because of the quality and taste. Italians live to eat rather than eat to live. It’s fantastic that the U.S. food movement is beginning to go in that direction, with a focus on quality rather than quantity.

Also, health is a big concern of mine and the health benefits of hot chocolate are a hot topic, no pun intended. Some studies show that more antioxidants are released when chocolate is heated, and that hot chocolate has more antioxidants than red wine, green tea, or black tea.

What is the history of this thicker form of hot cocoa?
This is the original style of chocolate enjoyed in the European royal courts — in a dense liquid form. This molten liquid chocolate was wildly popular because it was perceived as an aphrodisiac, and [it was] also medicinal. Also, cacao was very expensive and therefore exclusive to the royal class. Fast forward to 2013 and many Americans have not tried this thick, dense style of hot chocolate.

I know Chocolatto is available at restaurants, but can you make Chocolatto at home without a frother?
Absolutely! Chocolatto can be made on the stovetop with continuous stirring till boiling. It’s perfect for a dinner party, special home dinner date, or treat for the kids. We also have fantastic Chocolatto recipes such as Chocolatto Orange, a delicious combination of dark chocolate with fresh orange juice and zest, prepared by Sexy Spoon Man.


‘Wichcraft Offers Free Hot Chocolate Today

Bryant Park is the place to be Thursday afternoon, October 25.

Just in time for the opening of the Bryant Park ice rink tomorrow, the ‘wichcraft kiosk at Bryant Park will be switching its seasonal offerings from ice cream to hot chocolate. To commemorate the transition, it will be offering free four-ounce cocoas from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. today.


The franchise promises that anyone in line by 4 p.m. will get the hot chocolate, which is made by melting chocolate bars into a solution of organic milk, cream, and vanilla.

Four flavors will be available: regular, malted, toasted spices, and orange marmalade. These flavors can be found at all ‘wichcraft locations, but the free giveaway is limited to the Bryant Park branch, at the southeast corner of 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue.


Hot Chocolate Month Starts Tomorrow at City Bakery

Chocoholics, rejoice: The happiest time of the year is almost here! Sure, February might be a crap time of year for some people, namely those with seasonal affective disorder and all single people around the 14th, but for cocoa lovers, it means the return of City Bakery’s Hot Chocolate Month.

Throughout this February (which has an extra bonus day of hot chocolate since it’s Leap Year, woot woot), the Union Square area bakery will be offering patrons a bounty of exotic flavors in addition to its signature hot chocolate. Look for options ranging from ginger hot chocolate (February 3) to Vietnamese cinnamon hot chocolate (February 8) to bourbon hot chocolate (February 10) to the intriguing-sounding ode-to-the-polar-bear hot chocolate, a buttery white cocoa confection (February 22). This year also marks the 20th year of celebrations, meaning there’s bound to be a whole lotta chocolate joy. Hope you’re not taking that New Year’s resolution to diet too seriously.