Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ayza... Little Place, Big Flavor

This past Friday I took a trip down the street to a chocolate and wine bar that some co-workers of mine had mentioned to me. The bar is called Ayza, and they are located on 31st Street between 5th and 6th Ave. I went with a few friends from work and discovered, upon arrival, that this was the smallest bar I have ever been in. They have a reasonably extensive wine list, chocolate list, cheese list and an assorted pairing menu, however there are only a few tables for dinner seating and the bar can only fit so many. 

I, out of obligation to my craft, ordered the hot chocolate after having a complimentary warm spiced wine shot (which was delicious might I add.) So the menu appears to only have one type of hot chocolate- the Ayza Dark & White Hot Chocolate, this is of course assuming that I am reading it correctly and it is in fact one combined type and not two separate drinks. In any case, I drank what they gave me and it was quite good. 

The hot chocolate is very dark in color and is reasonably thick. It came with about 30 mini marshmallows on top, which are a nice touch but as they melt they make the drink a bit too sweet to handle. I must say that it was quite a different flavor however, it reminded me a lot of homemade chocolate pudding which I was not expecting, but certainly enjoyed.

So at $6 for a one size fits all, I'd say it is worth a try.

Out of a possible 10 marshmallows I give it an 8. 

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My Favorite! CUNY Graduate Center 8th floor Special

This past Thursday I had the pleasure of consuming my absolute favorite hot chocolate to date.

I look forward to this every year- the hot chocolate made by the chefs that work in the 8th floor cafeteria of the CUNY Graduate Center. 

See this is the building where I work, so sadly not just anyone has access to this delicious treat. But every winter, usually beginning with the Graduate Center holiday party, the special hot chocolate makes its appearance. 

It is only made a handful of times during the cold winter months (much to my dismay, and believe me I fill the comment box with requests.)

This hot chocolate is made in my favorite fashion... melting down chocolate in milk and adding seasoning to taste. I once found a mint leave and what appeared to be part of a vanilla bean in the pot as I ladled it into my cup. This is truly the craftsmanship of a hot chocolate lover. 

The hot chocolate is relatively thick, certainly creamy, and seems to be made predominantly of milk chocolate. If this sounds like the kind of hot chocolate you like, and you ever find yourself in the CUNY Graduate Center around lunch time, pray you are there on a day when the hot chocolate is available. When it is sold it is quite reasonable as I remember, somewhere around $2.50 for a large cup. 

Out of a possible 10 marshmallows I give it a 9. 
There is always room for improvement!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Starbucks: The Signature Line

So after work today I stopped at the Starbucks on 34th- you know, that two floor deal in the Empire State Building. Well I had tried two of their signature hot chocolates in the past- the hazelnut and the original one- both were pretty decent I suppose, tasting much more cocoaie (ko-ko-ee) than the regular Starbucks hot chocolate that they had been serving for so long and still continue to serve. 

So I ordered a grande (for any of you that still don't know -thats a medium ladies and gentleman, not to be confused with a large. Who pays attention to literal translations anyway.) So yes, I ordered a grande Salted Caramel Signature hot chocolate- the excessive adjectives alone nearly caused the cashier's head to explode. Eventually she figured out my order (so I thought) and I waited patiently for several minutes to receive my cup o' choc. After waiting for an abnormally long period of time, I received my tall (see now that means small and is therefore not the correct size,)  salted caramel beverage. I said "screw it," took the hit on paying for the medium and ending up with the small, and took off. 

On to the part that actually matters. So the hot chocolate is pretty good I guess. I was happier with the other two signature HCs so I will be fair and order the Salty Caramel at a different location before kicking it to the curb. You really do taste the hint of caramel and a bit of a saltiness though. It is a nice change of pace, but in the end I would go with the hazelnut as being my favorite of the four offered there (thats right, I said four, don't you dare forget about the original, non-signature, not good tasting hot chocolate that is cheaper and therefore crappier.) Do me a favor and spend the $4.35 for a grande signature, make sure you actually GET a grande, and kick that old, milky, sorry excuse for a hot chocolate to the curb. 

The Starbucks Signature Hot Chocolate line gets an overall 6 marshmallows out of 10. 

Monday, November 10, 2008

'Wichcraft... meh

So for lunch today I headed out to the 'Wichcraft in Herald Square (actually it was in Greeley Square but I refuse to recognize that as an actual location,) where my friends and I proceeded to order overpriced sandwiches. Sandy had suggested that I try their hot chocolate, not because she knew if it was in fact good, but because she knows how much I love hot chocolate... so I did just that. She had also suggested that I write a blog about hot chocolate so here it is.  

The hot chocolate, premade in a large plastic jug, was heated in a cappuccino machine (for extra fanciness, or perhaps to justify the fact that a medium cup of their premade hot chocolate costs $4.50.) Well in any case it was mediocre at best. Sipping it from my cup, it wasn't as thick as it had appeared when I first saw it being poured out of the jug, it also lacked sweetness, a characteristic that for some might be fine, but for me- well I need a little sugar in my life. It was rather cocoaie (ko-ko-ee) though, which I prefer to a chocolate syrup flavor. 

Out of a possible 10 marshmallows I would give it a 5.