Nobody knows the truffles I've seen.
That's because most people have not spent a day running around to a bevy of brand new chocolate shops, ogling things like hazelnut-lime-infused-72%-cocoa-content-bittersweet-chocolate bonbons, vowing, "This time, I am NOT going to miss the HUGE TREND STARING ME IN THE FACE!"
I.e., chocolate. Trust me, fancy candy is going to be the Cinnabon of the 21st century, and I should know!
Having, ahem, learned from my mistakes.
Let's just say that about 15 years ago, my editor made me write an article: "Gourmet Coffee, the Next Big Thing?"
I interviewed a couple of coffee nuts who had opened cafes in Seattle and quickly concluded: The next big thing? No way! Who's going to be stupid enough to pay $1 for a cup of java? Who cares what country a coffee bean comes from? Who's got time to sit in a cafe, anyway? And who, pray tell, wants a cardboard "java jacket" wrapped around her cup? Sounds like a toilet paper roll! "Gourmet coffee" ha! I never gave it a second thought!
Until I started tithing $1.79 every afternoon to Starbucks.
So now I am a bit more open-minded when staring down a megatrend. And let me tell you: Chocolate is staring back.
Like bottled water, balsamic vinegar, crusty bread, herbal tea, grainy mustard ... okay, like every other once-generic food, chocolate is soaring upscale. Just look around provided you are looking around hip areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn and you will see gourmet chocolate shops springing up like mango-coriander truffles.
These along with their raspberry and chile flavored brethren are about the size of a pat of butter and cost $1.35 each at Chocolate Bar, a cute West Village shop that has been at the forefront of this trend.
"When we first opened two years ago," says Alison Nelson, the skinny-as-a-Hershey bar owner, "the first thing people said was, 'Wow, that's a lot of money for a small piece of chocolate!' And now those same people come in and don't think twice."
Just like me at Starbucks!
Except I always think twice.
But Nelson has a point: As fancy chocolates like hers start springing up, people try them and tastes begin to change. How you gonna keep 'em down at the Nestle's Crunch after they've tried a $4 "Bittersweet, 60% Cocoa Content, Ghana Origins" bar from the new Jacques Torres supershop in SoHo? Or his "20% Ivory Coast, 80% Ecuador" blend?
You can't! At least, I don't think you can. Can you? Oh, maybe you can. I don't know! I've been wrong before! But this time, I feel it right down to my java jacket.
That's why I'm working on a brand new kind of chocolate holder: the bonbon bonnet.