Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Kee’s Chocolates

A kind reader, shortstop, suggested that I make a journey to Kee’s Chocolate.

imageAs I was already planning a little walk around SoHo on my last day in NYC, it seemed like a natural addition. I did a little reading and found that there were two things on my list that I had to try: the Creme Brulee and the Smoked Salt Truffle.

The shop is tucked on a small street between Broome and Houston and I arrived while they were in the middle of making their chocolates. There were three people in the store, four with me and it was rather cramped. The store isn’t fancy like Marie Belle (tomorrow’s entry) or Vosges - it’s tiny and spare but clean and of course smelled wonderfully. They were unmolding the Smoked Salt Truffles as I came in so I knew they were fresh.

I felt a little on the spot, most of the time I like to just blend in with the background and watch, but in such a small space, I had to get down to business and not fuss around with thinking and observing. That, and they wouldn’t let me take any photos inside either. So, here’s what I had:

image

Creme Brulee - this isn’t a truffle, this is something you just have to experience. The large morsel (not pictured) has faceted sides and a thin shell. You pop the whole thing in your mouth and the chocolate quickly shatters away and you’re left with a cool burst of creme brulee. It’s creamy and smooth, sweet and a real experience. You probably have to eat it while you’re there or very soon after purchase.

Smoked Salt - a really different truffle, this one was in a molded shell and the chocolate was rich and had a wonderful dryness and the salt was strong without being offensive. The addition of salt brought out some of the smoky and woodsy notes of the chocolate that I wasn’t noticing in the other truffles.

Blood Orange - a lovely, plump chocolate truffle with a slight tang to it, but not zesty. It was good, but not really what I was expecting as it had only a slight flavor to it.

Earl Grey - a really good dark chocolate truffle, but the infusion of Earl Grey was not apparent in the slightest upon eating it. A little later, I did detect the slightest aftertaste of bergamot, but it was not nearly as strong as I would have liked.

Jasmine - whoo! a beautiful tasting truffle - strong overtones of jasmine scent and a lingering perfume as well, this was the best of the infused truffles but I guess I’m spoiled and want a little more flavor to my flavors.

What I really enjoyed about the experience and the chocolates was the complete lack of extraneous packaging and decoration at the shop. Don’t get me wrong, the immersion at places like Vosges or Jacques Torres is wonderful, but let’s face it, once you leave the shop and take the chocolate out of the box, what really matters? What happens in your mouth. On the whole, this was an exceptionally pleasant oral experience. I wish the flavors were a little more vibrant, but the chocolate was wonderfully smooth and the Creme Brulee is truly unique. The chocolates don’t travel particularly well either, two of the truffles were cracked when I got them home and of course the Creme Brulee pretty much has to be eaten within a fifteen square block radius (okay, I’m making that part up, but we all know about the Saga of the Valomilk).

The one silly thing that I did, amidst all that lack of artifice was that I neglected to ask prices for anything and I can’t recall how much it was. (The whole shebang was about $12, I think.)

Kee’s Chocolates
80 Thompson Street
New York City, NY 10012
(212) 334-3284

Name: Chocolate Truffles
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Kee's Chocolates
Place Purchased: Kee's Chocolates
Price: unknown
Size: unknown
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:34 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry    

Comments
  1. I’m thinking I might have to go visit my friend in NYC soon.  Although I really am kinda cheap and have a hard time paying a lot for truffles and specialty candies. I absolutely love them, but part of me never wants to spend so much on something that is gone so quickly.

    Comment by g on 4/19/06 at 2:38 am #
  2. I must definitely check this spot out when I am back in NYC!!  There is nothing better than a wonderful confection!!

    Comment by Jaye on 4/19/06 at 3:45 am #
  3. Sorry, you lost me when I got to where they wouldn’t let you take pictures inside. Certainly it’s their prerogative to prohibit such things, but they’re making candy, not satellites.

    Comment by Will Campbell on 4/19/06 at 4:52 am #
  4. Not allowing picture taking seems to be somewhat the norm in a lot of places.  Here in Chicago, one such place is Garretts popcorn, which is world famous but they don’t allow cell phone use because they don’t want picture taking!!!

    Comment by Jaye on 4/19/06 at 5:02 am #
  5. Cybele's avatar

    Will - I know, the photography thing sucks, but I get it a lot. I always ask when I’m inside a shop and the clerk is there. But as you’ve seen I’ve taken shots without permission or without knowledge. I understand that there may be many reasons why they don’t want photos including:

    1. They’re working - flash or just the distraction of someone with a camera while working with hot chocolate or sharp knives might be bad.

    2. They’re shy - hey, I would be kinda pissed if folks came in and were able to take photos of me at work all day, every day.

    3. They’re protective of their process. It’s just candymaking to me, but maybe there are some trade secrets that you can watch but not document.

    4. They’re worried that I will expose some health code violation (they weren’t wearing hair nets!).

    Anyway, I took home some cool chocolates and photographed the bejeebers out of those and there’s nothing they can do to stop me! muhhaahaha!

    g - I’m with you about the money. The trip, however, was pretty cheap since my travel was paid for. Also, I skipped breakfast and lunch ...

    Jaye - please report back if you visit them! (Take a look at the menu before you go too, it really helped me to make my decisions before I even got in the door.)

    Comment by Cybele on 4/19/06 at 6:51 am #
  6. I’ve taken a bunch of photos in Kee’s!  :O I asked the first time I went and no one minded, hehe.  Haven’t been there in a while though…

    I ate the creme brulee truffle almost immediately.  wink

    Comment by Robyn on 4/19/06 at 10:02 am #
  7. Cybele's avatar

    Aw Robyn, they must not have liked me. They didn’t even give me any of the reject chocolates like they did with you.

    Comment by Cybele on 4/19/06 at 11:20 am #
  8. I just wanted to mention, regarding the ‘no picture’ rule they have, they may be protecting their production secrets, yes, but also, I had a friend who was of a certain asian decent and refused pictures taken of him or around him because they believe it robs your soul.  So this could be their belief.  Just a possibility.  This is my first time on the site virtually by accident, and I must say, it’s great.  For those of you who LOVE chocolate might I also suggest: http://www.seventypercent.com and www.chocolatealchemy.com these are a chocoholics delight!

    Comment by JoAnne on 4/20/06 at 8:26 am #
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