Tag Archives: espresso

Bicerin: elixir of my dreams

There’s a lovely beverage bar at Soma Chocolatemaker. Pull up a bar stool and sip on something warm as you watch the staff work their magic behind the glass walls of the chocolate and gelato laboratories.

I’m normally a fan of plain old hot chocolate, though a spicy hot chocolate hits the spot on a cold winter’s day. But before visiting Soma, I had never had the opportunity to try a bicerin. It’s a drink that the Piedmont region of Italy has claimed as its own. And having tasted it, I want to call it mine, too.

Take one part drinking chocolate and one part espresso. Make sure they’re piping hot and put them in the bottom of a bulbous glass. Then, gently float cold, softly whipped cream on the top.

Take a sip. And stop.

I dare you to not roll your eyes into the back of your head from sheer ecstasy as you taste the deep, dark chocolate; the rich, bold espresso; and the cold, surprisingly refreshing whipped cream.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that this simple drink is, well, simple. It’s a work of art. It’s an intoxicating balance of contrasts: temperature (hot/cold), texture (thick and rich/light and airy), and flavour (deep and dark/refreshing and creamy).

Even the experience of drinking a bicerin is fraught with tension. Clearly, something so deliciously beautiful should be savoured: slowly savoured, allowing your tastebuds and brain ample time to send happy nerve impulses back and forth that scream “oh my goodness!” and “ack!” and “egad!” and all other manner of sputtering. Sputtering, because your brain is wholly distracted trying to understand how one thing can be so amazingly tasty. You want to make the drink last an eternity.

Still, it’s so good that you just want more. And more, and more, and more. And before you know it, it’s all gone.

Thankfully, you took my advice at the beginning of this post and parked yourself at the beverage bar. Go ahead, order another one. You know you want to.

Soma Chocolatemaker
55 Mill Street, Building 48
Toronto, ON
416-815-7662

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Frasca’s chocolate tasting plate

As I mentioned yesterday, I ate at Frasca when I was in Boulder. It wasn’t enough that I had lobster, beef shoulder and bombolini – I also had to try the house chocolates.

The plate came with coconut, almond praline, passionfruit caramel, 72% dark chocolate, and espresso chocolates. They were all well done, but the highlights were the passionfruit caramel and the 72% dark chocolate.

Aside from combining two of my favourite flavours, the passionfruit caramel was a great combination of tart, sweet and rich flavours. All gooey, sticky and creamy, it was delicious. The 72% dark chocolate truffle was lovely and bittersweet, with an amazing airy texture.

Nom.

Frasca Food & Wine
1738 Pearl St
Boulder, CO
303-442-6966

NYC: the legendary Ferrara Cafe

Ferrara Cafe
(Little Italy)

While in New York, I spent many evenings at Ferrara Cafe. There were so many things to try, and just too little time. Tragic.

They make a mean affogato: ice cream doused with searing hot espresso. You have to be careful on busy nights, though – the affogato can sit on the counter too long before it arrives at your table, which just ruins the entire point. Specify that you want the ice cream super cold, and the espresso super hot. I tried it once with vanilla gelato (too sweet) and once with coffee gelato (just right). It would also be pretty tasty with chocolate gelato, methinks.

There are tons of tasty things in the bakery case. Just pick one. You really can’t go wrong. You can do take out, or have a seat in the cafe.

And I dare you not to be tempted by the mountain of torrone that greets you as you walk in the door. Nuts and candied fruit, all wrapped in a sticky sweet honey meringue? How can you possibly resist?

Ferrara Cafe
195 Grand Street
New York, NY
212-226-6150