When asked about the best chocolatiers in the world, many people think of northern Europe: France, Switzerland, and Belgium. But enter Spain, whose Cacao Sampaka has redefined the traditional gastronomic experience of cacao. Owned by Albert Adrià, the former pastry chef at El Bulli and brother of Ferran of Tickets & 41ºfame, its whimsical chocolatiers have made traditional, handcrafted chocolates cosmopolitan. They have redesigned ingredient pairings to create unique flavor experiences; gone are the ganaches and nougats in place of unorthodox, almost schismatic, ingredients. From curry to parmesan to wasabi to balsamic vinegar, these Spanish chocolates exhibit the infinite creativity in the art of chocolate making. Creations of single bean origin – Tanzania, Ecuador, and Madagascar – sit aside those with ingredients of Indonesian origin – clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg – in a display of chocolates that would please the exquisite palate of even the most discerning of chocolate lovers. While many would call this a gourmet chocolate shop, gourmet is too mediocre. It is simply sublime.
For lovers of Gelato, the artisianal Fatamorgana is must while in Rome. Located in the Trastevere, this gelateria is described as “a fine atelier of the frozen dessert, where hand-made gelato becomes an extraordinary experience.” In addition to the classic flavors of chocolate, stracciatella, pistachio, and tiramisu, the adventurous can sample some of their more innovative creations: pear & gorgonzola cheese; pumpkin with its carmelized seeds; Sardinian pecorino cheese; chestnut, honey, & orange peel; or wasabi chocolate. However, being a born and bred southerner, I was most intrigued by the Kentucky, a chocolate gelato infused with the flavors of tobacco and cinnamon cream. Try it if you dare.
When you think of museum cafés, you don’t often think “swank”. However, that is not the case with the café at the National Gallery of Art in Copenhagen. With towering glass windows offering beautiful views of the Østre Anlæg park, this café imbues modern Danish art & minimalist design. The unconventional bright green tables and chairs mark a collaboration between artist Bjørn Nørgaard and designer Peter Lassen of the Montana Furniture Company. Continuing the minimalist theme, each table is topped by only a porcelain vase with a single fresh flower.
In addition to these special chef creations, there is a daily buffet that will not disappoint. It features salmon, herring, roast pork, & ham paired with a selection of salads, fruits, and cheeses. Save room for a café latte and a chocolate truffle.
In typically Danish fashion, this café offers modern cuisine in a sleek, yet cozy, environment. Velbekomme!
Look closely. It’s candy – the creations of Sweet Saba, the whimsical new line of designer candy by Mayaan Zilberman. Each of her designs represents a memory from her past and bursts with unexpected fusions of flavor. Three of my favorites are the overseas letters, slides, & mixtapes, which together whisk me back to a time long ago when I was studying for a degree in theory & criticism of art. I would spend long nights in the slide library with my best friend memorizing works of art while listening to mixtapes and longing to travel instead. Now we travel often and have seen much of the art we studied, but that time spent in the slide library poring over works of art and sharing our dreams with each other remains one of my favorite experiences. I simply love that Mayaan’s designs can evoke such fond memories in me.