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Monday, August 20, 2018

Relaxing Tea at The Baccarat Hotel New York

I was very excited to experience afternoon tea at the Baccarat Hotel New York. You take the elevator to the 2nd floor, and the Grand Salon which is such a gorgeous place for afternoon tea. You can even experience the city's most expensive tea service here, at $600, the Baccarat’s Tsar Nicholas II menu is 10 to 20 times as expensive as those of most of its competitors. The other available tea services are the King Louis XV ($95) and the Prince of Wales ($110). There are so many choices here, and very unique offerings. 

The gorgeous chandelier as you walk in to enter the elevator to the Grand Salon 

The table setting, with Baccarat crystal of course, is stunning 

I LOVED these champagne flutes 

The decor is just as over-the-top as you would expect 

We choose the Prince of Wales tea service, like having an English tea at Windsor Castle. 

Cucumber with Cream Cheese Foam and Grapefruit
Vadouvan Courgette Presse with Brie and Apple
Lamb Botifarra Tartelette with Romesco
“Peas and Rice” with Snapper Crudo and Tomato
Foie Gras Gougère with Strawberry Rooibos Jam

Raspberry Rose Charlotte
Tartlette aux Fruits
Baba au Rhum Exotique
Religieus des Tuileries
Warm Housemade Scones
with Devonshire Cream and Seasonal Gelée

Unfortunately, the staff was not totally on their game the day we were there. We ordered tea service for 2 but were only brought one at first. It took a while to flag our waitress down to say we had ordered 2 afternoon teas. I really felt for the level of this hotel ( a five star ) and the Baccarat name, it should be perfect every time someone dines here. 

As pretty as everything looked, this was the least amount of food I have ever received at an afternoon tea. I must say I was a bit disappointed but I loved the tier plates it was served upon. 

These were the savories, which was very tiny indeed 

Desserts looked pretty but I didn't feel they tasted anything special 

The tea service used was of course Baccarat and was really lovely. We paired the afternoon tea with Earl Grey which was very tasty.  

This was the lamb tart which I did enjoy 

These two items were interesting looking but not a whole lot of flavor 

Vadouvan Courgette Presse with Brie and Apple was quite tasty 

Raspberry Rose Charlotte was very pretty looking, taste was okay as I am not a Raspberry fan 

Foie Gras Gougère with Strawberry Rooibos Jam was my first try at Foie Gras and I must say, it didn't really appeal to me 

Baba au Rhum Exotique which I felt is made much better at the Italian bakeries 

You can also dine from the menu at The Grand Salon, which is something I would like to try. I hate to say but I wouldn't do the afternoon tea here again. The atmosphere was gorgeous, the Baccarat crystal is just divine, but I do not feel it was worth my $145.00. If money is no object, and you just want to experience an afternoon tea as luxe as possible, this would probably be right up your alley. Please leave a comment if you do experience afternoon tea here and let me know how you liked it.

The Grand Salon 
Afternoon Tea Hours
Wednesday - Sunday
1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Tour Best Brooklyn Chocolate Shops

The Brooklyn Chocolate Tour from A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours needs to be on your bucket list. I feel Tony's tours are the best to see Brooklyn, they are very carefree, and you can tell much work went into the planning of the tour.    
We had one of the most gorgeous days when we took the tour, and the views were just over-the-top New York ! 
Looks like a postcard, doesn't it ?  
Our first stop was my favorite Jacques Torres, Mr. Chocolate, original location in DUMBO ( Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), which I had been to once before. Mr. Torres was the master pastry chef for Le Cirque, and opened this first location in 2000. He has shops in Manhattan, and I highly suggest you stop in.  
The chocolate combos are just wonderful here, the chocolate chip cookies quite famous 

What a great gift to take back to family and friends, after you are done with the chocolate, you have a nice little box for trinkets.  
We sampled chocolate covered cheerios, chocolate covered blueberries and chocolate covered almonds. The cheerios will just blow your mind!  
We also visited Valentino Pier  in Red Hook, Brooklyn, which had gorgeous views of Lady Liberty  
We were really very lucky with the gorgeous day we had on this first of many chocolate tours! When you go on a tour with someone who is from Brooklyn, they will take you places you probably won't know to go on your own. That is what makes it worth while. 
Brooklyn has some cool architecture as well 
The Chocolate Room was a place I had heard about and always wanted to visit. It did not disappoint. 
How nice of Tony to hold the door for everyone to check out this chocolate heaven! 
We were able to meet one of the owners, Jon Payson, which was very neat. He talked about how they started the shop, and we were able to ask questions. 
Now I must say, the smell in this place was like being in the chocolate room of Willy Wonka! It smelled so, so good. I could have stayed all day.  
We were treated to the most tasty hot chocolate, think of a melted chocolate bar! 
Their famous chocolate layer cake was given to us to taste in cupcake form.  
This was truly an amazing foodie experience.  
Adorable cafe, not very big, but oh so worth the trip. I hope they open one in Manhattan in the future as I would be really thrilled! They do ship some of their items online.  

Raaka Co. Chocolate Factory in Red Hook was our next stop. Raaka is Finnish for "raw" because they do not roast the cocoa beans. Most chocolate that you buy is made by roasting the beans, this is a different process that produces some of the most amazing flavored chocolate. 
Happiness is Unroasted 
We also had the pleasure of meeting the co-owner here as well, Ryan Cheney, who talked about what was important to the company. Raaka supports in-country growth and development by giving cocoa farmers around the world an effective 20 percent raise for their beans. 

They have chocolate making classes, sign me up! 
We had a tasting of about 5 of their bars, and one was better than the next. The coconut milk and apple pie were my favorites, and came home with me. 
My only regret here is that we couldn't go behind the factory to see them making the actual chocolate. That would have been pretty darn cool, they do have tours available. 

The bars' gorgeous wrappers, are pretty amazing as well. Printed with soy inks on 100% recycled paper and processed with wind-generated energy, it's good for the planet, too. This apple pie bar is just unreal, you can actually taste the crust from the graham cracker on top. Sublime. 
Li-Lac Chocolates in Industry City was our last stop on the tour. This is the oldest Manhattan chocolate shop, opening in 1923. I have been to their location inside Grand Central Terminal, but this was a nice spot to check out their new place. Industry City is really growing by leaps and bounds. 

I never met a chocolate shoe I didn't like! They have some of the best chocolate molds here. 
Wonderful gifts to bring back home! Their chocolate is really so flavorful and yummy. 

This was amazing to see the chocolate being dipped on what looked like cookies! I was looking to see if Lucy was going to come and try to work the machine! (I actually have a hallmark ornament of her doing just that!) They are also in Chelsea Market and Greenwich Village. A must stop for the chocolate lover! 

This Brooklyn Chocolate Tour was just wonderful. The time went by too fast, I need to do another one with a friend! The tours run Monday, Wednesday and Friday, leaving from Union Square area. The tours run about 4 hours and cost is $50.00 per person. Advanced tickets are required, and you will not be disappointed in this tour. You actually may wish to take it more than once, to cater to your chocolate and Brooklyn fix!

Disclosure: I was provided one ticket to attend this chocolate tour by A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours for this review. There has been no monetary compensation for this post. I only recommend products that I feel will be of interest to my readers, and that I am truly impressed by. All opinions are my own. Thank you!! 

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