Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sugar Bowl in Scottsdale, Arizona

I went to Arizona for the first time in my life, and I stayed than 24 hours. Fortunately, I can find ice cream in less than 24 hours.

Sugar Bowl is in Scottsdale, and it was founded in 1958, as perhaps you can see below.

It's an old-fashioned ice cream parlor, with everything done up in pink. Eloise would love it here. I loved it here! Sugar Bowl has been featured many times in "Family Circus," which makes sense; it harkens back to a simpler era, just as that comic strip does.

The menu consisted of big sundaes and parfaits. Nothing pretentious or Brooklyn about this place. You know I love my Brooklyn, but sometimes I also just love a big heaping mound of ice cream with various sauces and creams poured all over it.

This is what I got. It was a parfait with a scoop of chocolate, a scoop of mint chocolate chip, mint-chocolate sauce, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles on top. This was not the most intensely creamy, flavorful, whatever ice cream I've ever had, and yet it was everything I wanted. With a cherry on top. The NYC ice cream parlor that I was most reminded of was Eddie's, in Queens.

We each got our own ice cream so nobody had to share. That is my dream come true.

BOTTOM LINE: Located near Phoenix, Arizona, this 55-year-old soda shop is a delight not for ice cream snobs, but for ice cream lovers.

Monday, October 21, 2013

J.P. Licks' Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream

Leila already raved about J.P. Licks.  Let me pour on the praise.

Vegan ice cream is hard, though we have reviewed a number of good options.  J.P. Licks is one of, if not the, best.  While the cream base I think is the worst of this crowd, it employs a strategy that goes straight to my heart -- keeping the ice cream not too sweet.  It's definitely a dark chocolate flavor.  It totally surprised me, and I loved it.

Bottom Line: A delicious vegan "dark" chocolate ice cream.

Raw Ice Cream Company Vegan Chocolate Ice Crean

So, I'm not gonna lie.  This doesn't taste quite like normal ice cream.  I'm not really sure how to describe it.  Actually, I do know how to describe it: it tastes like cheap ice cream.  Like Breyers or something.  Only, very bizarrely... kind of delicious?  And also much more expensive.  Of course.

The thing to note is that it is very chocolatey considering that it is not sorbet and considering that it is a fairly light shade of brown, indicating a high "cream"-to-chocolate ratio.  I had a non-vegan friend try it with me, and she confirmed that it was surprisingly good.

Bottom Line: If you want a chocolatey frozen treat, and you see this, you will probably be very happy.  But do not take a bite expecting regular ice cream.  Take a bite expecting Breyers, and you will be pleasantly surprised.  

Amorino Chocolate Sorbet

I had eaten Amorino sorbet and gelato before, and I was not particularly impressed, especially with the gelato.

I recently went back, and I got the sorbet by itself.  It was a much more satisfying experience.  The gelato is obviously high-end, but it's just not that chocolatey.  The sorbet solves that problem, as sorbets are wont to do.  And you have to give Amorino credit for having lots of chocolate flavors.

Bottom Line: If you are in the mood for some chocolate sorbet in Greenwich Village, especially if you are in the mood for chocolate sorbet mysteriously served as if it were a flower, I begrudgingly have to recommend Amorino, despite prior biases.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Chocolate Tart (without compote) at Angelica's Kitchen

This was super delicious!:

It is basically like a super dense chocolate mousse/pudding situation, with a bit of spelt crust "holding it together."  (Just make sure you get the fruit-based compote on the side -- you guys know my position on that.)

Bottom Line: I've always considered the lack of chocolate desserts to be one of Angelica's biggest weaknesses.  In fact, many great vegan restaurants lack an excellent chocolate dessert.  Glad to see Angelica's face the problem head-on.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Zen Soymilk Chocolate Pudding

This stuff is not very good:

But I still ate it all.

Bottom Line: Sometimes the situation becomes dire. 

Meiji Hello Panda Double Chocolate, Lindt 70%, and Green and Black's 85%

I got a sweet care package:

The Meiji-brand Hello Panda chocolate things are candy, but they are delicious candy.  I am not sure whether there is really any actually chocolate hiding between all the partially hydrogenated oils, but mmm-mmm-mmm, those are some delicious oils.  My compliments to the hydrogenator.

As for the bars of chocolate, they were both good.  The Lindt 70% was not as good as the Green & Black's 85%.  And it was far from as good as the Lindt 90%.  But it seems like it could do in a pinch.  Green & Black's actually did a nice job of getting that sweet spot of chocolatey-but-neither-bitter-nor-sweet, which is a great place to be.  The flavor did not overwhelm, and it was not particularly fascinating, but it did what a good bar of chocolate should do.

Bottom Line: Even with commonly available "real" chocolate, there is no way to compare with the other chocolate products that are possibly sold in the same store.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Jacques Torres peanut butter chocolate chip cookie

Here's a fun fact about me: I work across the street from Jacques Torres.

You may recall that I've reviewed Jacques Torres' cookies before, and they were not exactly my cup of tea (or cup of chocolate?). Just crispier than my tastes lean, that's all.

But yesterday I noticed a third type of cookie on display at the Jacques Torres. "What is that new type of cookie you are now offering?" I asked the woman who worked there.

"It's a peanut butter cookie with milk and dark chocolate chips," she answered. "But it's not new. You must not have been in here for a while!"

I didn't say this, but what I was thinking was: Really, lady? I run a chocolate blog and I work across the street, and you're telling me I haven't been in here for a while?

What I actually said was, "Okay, I'll eat it."

Here were my thoughts:

1) It was way softer than Jacques Torres' normal chocolate chip cookies, thus fulfilling my dreams. No crispiness here. These are as fluffy as they appear.

2) I don't really need peanut butter in my cookies. They distract from the chocolate. But if you are into peanut butter in cookies, this is an excellent option.

3) I have no need for milk chocolate either, so those milk chocolate bits also felt like a waste of time to me.

4) But the dark chocolate pieces were THE BEST THING EVER.

BOTTOM LINE: On my next Jacques Torres visit, maybe I should just buy a dark chocolate bar and cut out the middleman.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Bongo Room, Chicago

Both David and I went to college in Chicago, a city whose chocolate scene in no way rivals New York's - with one exception.

The Bongo Room.

The Bongo Room is a brunch restaurant with a few locations throughout Chicago. Apparently they serve savory meals and salads and stuff like that, but you would be a fool if you were in Chicago and ordered anything for brunch other than items off the Bongo Room's "Sinful" menu.

I was in town this weekend, so a friend and I split two dishes. Here are the white chocolate and caramel pretzel pancakes:

These were interesting because they included actual crushed pretzels embedded atop the pancakes. I didn't love them, though, because 1) they were too salty for my palate, and 2) I do not actually like white chocolate (as we have established so many times before). I guess instead I should have ordered the red velvet hotcakes with warm vanilla creme and toasted walnuts. Oh, well. Live and learn.

At any rate, both those pancake dishes are specials. The Bongo Room always has some amazing specials on offer. I still remember a mint-chocolate pancake with crushed Oreos that I ate there circa the year 2004.

We also ordered a dish off their year-round menu: the chocolate tower french toast.

"Bittersweet chocolate chunk bread stuffed with maple mascarpone, banana creme brûlée sauce, fresh bananas, and shaved chocolate."

Everything about this dish was unspeakably phenomenal.

Here are both the dishes together, before we started eating.

Here are both the dishes together, after we were too full to possibly go on:

In retrospect, the two of us could have just split one dish and been perfectly full. But with so many options on the menu, how could we have stopped at one?

BOTTOM LINE: This is what breakfast should be always.