Always trust Martha to bring the culinary world of New York to my living room. Not that long ago, she presented a segment on 10th Avenue noshes and ChikaLicious Dessert Bar was included on her two-part tour. Chef owners Don and Chika Tillman present a starkly intimate dessert eatery built around an open kitchen where the chefs and sommelier work and serve the customers directly. Their reasonably priced three-course tasting menu has been described as being American desserts with French presentation and Japanese tasting portions and includes a palate-cleansing amuse, a choice from the varying dessert selection, and a plate of assorted petit fours. Wine matchings are offered, along with organic coffees and teas.
For our visit, we started with a sweetly puckering duo of lemonade sorbet with lemon panna cotta. For our “mains,” we each tried one of their classic desserts: Fromage Blanc Island “Cheese Cake” (pictured above) artfully nestled into a mound of shaved ice; and a Warm Chocolate Tart with Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream and Red Wine Sauce. Both were divinely delicious and proof of the chefs’ skills in presentation, taste and texture. We couldn’t ask for anything more after an exhausting day supporting the local retail economy. And indeed, the petit fours were the proverbial cherry on an otherwise perfect sensory experience: a cube of quivering coconut marshmallow, a mini-wedge of carmelized lemon peel pound cake and a kiss of ganache atop a crisp chocolate wafer took us over the edge and we sailed home on a satisfactory sugar high.
They don’t take reservations, but any wait is worth the experience. And while you’re there, check out the Dessert Club ChikaLicious, their companion bakery directly across the street, for arguably the best cupcake you will find in Manhattan.
ChikaLicious Dessert Bar
203 E. 10th St., between 2nd Ave and 1st Ave.
New York, NY
3pm to 10:45pm.
- Grapefruit and Lavender
Another discovery brought to me courtesy of Martha Stewart, Papabubble is an international cult candy shop with outlets in Barcelona, Amsterdam, Tokyo, and now Manhattan. Their artisanal hard candies are handmade in plain view at each store. You can watch the owners as they knead, beat, stretch and slice the sweet bites into submission. Simple ingredients, a dynamic range of flavours and cute packaging make them hard to resist. While there, I managed to sample almost every flavour, some of them even still warm from the marble slab. My must-have favourites include chili-lime, lavender, caramel apple, and lemon ginger along with the most adorably delicious pink grapefruit.
You can watch a Martha Stewart’s visit at: Martha at Papabubble
380A Broom Street, between Mott St and Mulberry St.
New York, NY
Open seven days a week
Rick and Michael Mast, the bearded beatnik brothers and proprietors of Mast Brothers Chocolate, are the only bean-to-bar chocolate makers in New York. The brothers from Iowa roast cacao beans sourced from Ecuador, Madagascar and Venzuela in their Williamsburg, NY factory and create micro-batches of pure alchemy, turning said beans into delicious tablets of deeply complex chocolate subtly flavoured with a small range of flavour profiles: salt & pepper, fleur de sel, cocoa nibs.
My palate’s preference is their dark milk chocolate; made with 60% cacao, it has the intense bouquet of a dark with all of the butteriness of a milk, offering the best of both worlds.
Approximately 250 businesses offer their artfully wrapped bars for sale, but if you’re in the neighbourhood on the weekend, pay the brothers a visit at their factory’s storefront.
Mast Brothers Chocolate
105 North Third Street, between Berry Street and Wythe Avenue
Open weekends, noon-6 pm