If you are planning to spend the weekend chocolate shopping for the holidays, allow me to make a suggestion. Log on to chocolatier Hasty Torres’s website where you will find some 100 chocolate items in twenty-three different flavors. Her nickname is Madame Chocolat, as she is the wife of Mr. Chocolate, Jacques Torres. (Remember the chocolate kitchen ovens he created at Le Cirque?) From bonbons to chocolates in the shapes of watches, shoes, purses, Santa Claus, Christmas trees, Hanukkah items, holiday glitter truffles and much more, the result will surely be a sweet ending.
Some couples are diabolic, but Jacques & Hasty Torres aka Mr. Chocolate and Madame Chocolat, are “chocoholic.” Jacques operates out of Brooklyn, Hasty out of Beverly Hills. If you are in the Los Angeles area and cannot drive to Beverly Hills or cannot fly to New York to indulge in their chocolate creations, you have a chance to get their pieces at two pop-up stores. One is located at The Grove in Los Angeles (near the foot of the Christmas tree across from Crate & Barrel), and the second one in Glendale at Americana at Brand (102 Caruso Ave. across from Trattoria Amici restaurant and Barnes & Noble, formerly Guess Accessory store).
His chocolate products are wrapped in brown and orange, while hers are in brown and beige, so there is no reason to be confused. Since it’s the holiday season, we recommend Jacques’ Christmas tree, snowman, and Santa Claus and Hasty’s nutcrackers, watches or gift baskets. They run from $1 to $200.
You will also find their classics: Hasty’s Eiffel Tower, High Heel Pumps, or truffles; and Jacques’ chocolate caramel corn, espresso beans or chocolate-covered marshmallows (I never had those, so they’re next on my list.)
Yes, you read my title correctly: Triple chocolate truffle pizza! And to be clear, I mean real truffles, not chocolate truffles.
The story goes that the general manager of the Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills, Pradeep Raman, really loves food — and since I was able to test him, trust me, he knows about food. So he asked Mirko Paderno, the chef of the hotel’s restaurant Oliverio, to come up with some fun ideas around chocolate. The pair created “Choco-Sutra,” an all-you-can-eat chocolate buffet served on Fridays and Saturdays around the pool from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
There are two ways to talk about Maison Richard, culinarily speaking. It’s a restaurant open 7 days a week (except Sunday night) with non-stop service from breakfast to dinner, but it is probably more famous for its pastries, based on über chef Michel Richard‘s recipes. Let’s not forget the croissants, brioches and apple-turnovers (chaussons aux pommes in French).
Just about everyone fell in love with Labriola Bakery & Café, a handsome offshoot of the esteemed Alsip, Ill., wholesale bakery, when it opened in an upscale, if generic, Oak Brook strip mall outside of Chicago in late 2008.
Owner Rich Labriola, a pizza-maker’s son, formed one of the area’s most respected—and profitable—artisan bread-baking companies back in 1993, supplying his wares to hotels and restaurants, such as Rosebud, Phil Stefani ventures and Spago, before taking the next step.
Sure, lines snake around the store or out the door during peak times, but few seem to mind—especially now. Labriola just expanded, launching concept-within Labriola Pasticerria, where sweets—almost too pretty to eat—provide eye candy for the lunch-breaking suits, socialites and regular, old carb lovers who gobble fare at wooden tables illuminated by a roaring fire or flickering flat-screens.