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Book Review: Professor Chocolate Presents The Ultimate Guide to Finding Chocolate in NYC

Professor Chocolate Presents: The Ultimate Guide to Finding Chocolate in NYC – Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn is a labor of love, spanning three years of research and discovery (ie. eating a lot of chocolate!) by two friends, fellow chocolate afficcionados, and elementary school teachers, Rob Monahan and Neill Alleva, who together comprise Professor Chocolate.

I am a chocoholic.  No bones about it.  So I was happily surprised when I found a whole slew of chocolate shops I didn’t know about, as well as all of my favorite ones listed in this fun, quirky guidebook.  Several of the best chocolatiers and chocolate shops in the city are in the markets, including Roni-Sue’s Chocolates (at the Essex Street Market); Jacques Torres and Chelsea Market Baskets (at Chelsea Market); NuNu Chocolates (at the Brooklyn Flea, Urban Space NYC Markets, Old Can Factory Markets and more), and Mast Brothers (at the New Amsterdam Market).  They’re all in the book.

The book presents eleven self-guided tours through different neighborhoods in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. But  don’t fret: Volume 2 covering other parts of the city is in the works. We took the “Historic Walk” through the Financial District, including the fine French Maison du Chocolat and Swedish FIKA Espresso Bar. It was a Sunday, so several of the shops were closed, but the chocolate we did find was new to us and extremely tasty.  We had chocolatier Håken Mårtensson’s pear liqour and cardamom bonbons at FIKA, as well as the moist, rich chocolate muffin.

The “High Line Picnic” tour includes four chocolate shops in Chelsea, including the lovely Three Tarts. There are three tours in Brooklyn, including the “Brownstone Tour” through Boerum Hill and the aptly named “Stroller Tour” through Park Slope.

The Professor Chocolate guide devotes two full pages plus copious illustrations and photos for each shop in the book.  They also provide pages for you to take notes about all the chocolates you tried, and even a star rating system.  You can find addresses, phone numbers, hours of operation, maps, and the closest subway stops for each location. The detailed icon list, such as “Stroller Friendly,” “Only in NYC,” “Ice Cream,” and “Wi-Fi,” will help you plan your excursion.  Several of the shops are closed on Sundays, so make sure you read the fine print before you head out!

In addition to being a chocoholic’s survival guide, the guide has loads of fun details. On page 98, for example, the Professors tell us, “Chocolate has consistently been shown not to cause acne in studies conducted over the last 50 years!” On page 58, they ask, “Is chocolate as good as sex?”  (You’ll have to find out the answer in your own copy of the book.)  Rob and Neill recommend places in the neighborhoods to enhance your tour, like the High Line Park in Chelsea, or the Brooklyn Flea.

Rob and Neill state, “We do not judge the quality of chocolate, nor do we consider ourselves connoisseurs in the traditional sense.  We simply love chocolate, love finding it, and love sharing our research with anyone who is interested.”  They do give suggestions for some of the bonbons they like the best, like NuNu Chocolate’s Absinthe Delight and Ronnie’ Sue’s Pig Candy (bacon and chocolate confections).

This book is self-published, and it is currently available online and in Chelsea Market Baskets and several other shops. Rob and Neill will be burning up the shoe leather visiting shops and bookstores in person once school lets out in the summer. They’re also going to be giving tours, which I will definitely let you know about!

They are so committed and passionate about this project, and they could really use our support! Here’s how:

1.     Buy the book!

2.     Ask your local bookstore to order multiple copies!

3.     Contribute to their crowdfunding project so they can finish Volume 2!

Are you ready for some chocolate now?  Professor Chocolate will show you the best bonbons in town!

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