never been a huge fan of hot chocolate. For some reason, I don't
enjoy cauterizing the inside of my mouth after being duped by the
deceptively-tepid whipped cream or marshmallow topping.
These days, I mainly have hot chocolate when my three teenage daughters,
who I'm pretty sure started drinking coffee as toddlers, invite
me and my credit card to join them in the drive-thru of one of our
roughly 200 local coffee shops. Since I've never learned to relish
the scalding bitterness of designer coffee, and I refuse to order
anything with a name as silly as "Frappuccino," I typically order
myself a hot chocolate to avoid feeling left out.
Unfortunately, in addition to costing about the same as several
gallons of premium unleaded, the hot chocolate from these caffeine
dispensaries usually tastes like the water out of an old tire-if
the tire was on fire.
And I won't even get into the abominations inflicted upon the American
public by Swiss Miss. I'm not sure who this young lady is, but she
should apologize to the fine people of Switzerland for representing
them with those so-called marshmallows.
In spite of my checkered history with this classic winter beverage,
I was willing to put all of that behind me on our
recent family vacation to New York City. We happened to be in
the Big Apple during a historically-frigid arctic blast that even
made it too cold for native New Yorkers to curse at the tourists.
| Bryant Park
Winter Village, New York City
Graves photo, Dec. 2022
|Since we were
in the city during the holiday season, my daughters were keen to visit
several famous holiday markets. Our first stop was the Holiday Shops
of Midtown Manhattan's Bryant Park Winter Village, touted as a "European-inspired
open-air market" and designed to separate tourists from their cash
with multicultural flair.
For me, the highlight of the market was a large cup of Max Brenner
classic hot chocolate. This was the hot chocolate my blood glucose
levels had been waiting for my whole life. It was the perfect temperature
(meaning that it didn't cause the top layer of my tongue to peel off),
and it tasted like a freshly baked and liquefied homemade brownie.
It was so good that I nearly forgot about the frostbite.
next day, we hit the Union Square Holiday Market, featuring 185 local
craftsmen, artists and entrepreneurs (all equipped with hand-crafted
credit card readers). It was here that my eldest and most expensive
daughter introduced me to the social media-famous Rubyzaar Baked Liquid
| Rubyzaar Baked
Graves photo, Dec. 2022
| Normally, I
prefer to eat marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers in their
pure, untainted states, but the combination of ingredients in this
molten cup of decadence was something to behold. It's really difficult
to describe, but let's just say that if preparing hot chocolate requires
the use of a miniature blowtorch, sign me up!
| Our visit to
New York opened my nostrils to new levels of freezer burn, my wallet
to new levels of emptiness, and my taste buds to new levels of chocolaty
deliciousness. Until I return, I guess I'll somehow make do with Swiss
Miss-and my own miniature blowtorch.