Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Sweet Life

The Sweet Life is one of the “little gems” in the historic Lower East Side that has managed to withstand the test of time and become a permanent fixture in the neighborhood. Established in 1982, the family owned business is dedicated to bringing gourmet chocolates and candy from around the world---to their packed little store. The store itself is fairly small but somehow amongst the full shelves of candy, I did not feel overwhelmed or discouraged by the abundance of sugary offerings, but enthusiastic about what treasures I might find. In addition to importing sweets, they also make their own on-site. I decided to sample something handmade and unique to The Sweet Life. When I asked the sales person what their signature piece was, she recommended the Caramel softy pop. The lollipop is composed of marshmallow and caramel covered in a milk chocolate on a stick. I’m usually not a fan of marshmallow, but I decided to take her advice. It was amazing. The petite confection was light and fluffy and gave me a scrumptious sugar buzz--without making me feel overly guilty. If on the LES, pop into The Sweet Life and grab a pop!

The Sweet Life
63 Hester St. (@ Ludlow St.)
New York, NY 10002
phone: 212.598.0092
Subway: East Broadway Station, F
Price: $$

Economy Candy

Since 1937, Economy candy has been providing the Lower East Side with a large assortment of delicious candy at discounted prices. Economy Candy has been able to adapt to the current confectionary needs of the urbanites while maintaining its old-fashioned aesthetic and feel. A trip to Economy is an adventure within itself. One can get lost browsing the endless amounts of bins, jars, cabinets, boxes and bags that occupy the store. The genius of the store is that it completely lacks order. Scavenging around was fun and ultimately rewarding. I left with several cool things including a pack of Fruit Stripe Gum, an old superman comic book, and chocolate band-aids (for life’s boo boos). Fruit Stripe Gum (not known for its taste) was fun to play around with for wrapped around each piece of gum is a temporary tattoo sheet. You simply lick your hand and then rub one the image on it and voila-- a tattoo for your LES stroll.

108 Rivington Street
New York, NY 10002-2204
(212) 254-1531
Subway: Essex st. – Delancy st. Station
F, J, M, Z
Price: $

Dean & Deluca

Over the years, Dean & Deluca has become a one-stop shop for all of your epicurean needs. Since the first store opened in 1977, Dean & Deluca has been rapidly expanding to become the culinary dream that it is today. The Upper East Side branch has a fabulous array of candy, but it differs from your standard candy store in its layout. Because of the many different types of goods that the store offers, the candy lives all around the store, without any one designated area. One has to browse among the store, which can be overwhelming, in order to find all of the candy offerings. However, after the initial shock from the magnitude of products, one can encounter some pretty interesting pieces. What caught my eye in particular were the molded Buddha chocolates. Each Buddha is made with dark chocolate and painted with edible gold. They are different from any candy I’ve every seen before but at $20 a pop, they are certainly no karmic bargain.

Dean and Deluca NYC Locations
Madison Store
1150 Madison Ave (At 85th Street) • 212.717.0800
Subway: 86
th st. station 4,5,6
SoHo Store
560 Broadway (At Prince Street) • 212.226.6800
Subway: Prince st. station N, R, W

Li-Lac Chocolates

Amongst the many gourmet offerings at Grand Central Market is Li-Lac’s array of delicious chocolates. While many chocolate stores attempt to one up one another with the latest chocolate trend, Li-Lac sticks to the basics and does them well. When I asked the sales clerk what their most popular item was she promptly offered me a sample of their dark chocolate almond bark. She also mentioned their chocolate covered pretzels and butter crunch as other top sellers. Li-lac has been in operation since 1923 and that almond bark proved that after all those years they have still got it. Li-Lac has been located at the Grand Central Market for seven years and all of the chocolates they sell hails from their factory in Brooklyn. The Grand Central Market itself has a lively atmosphere and has become a great midtown gourmet destination. So, next time you are waiting for your train, don’t forget to check out Lil-ac chocolate!

Li-Lac @ Grand Central Market 109 East 42nd Street, New York - (212) 370-4866
Subway: 42nd st./ Grand Central Station 4,5,6,S
Other locations:
40 8th Avenue, New York - (212) 924-2280
Subway: 14th st. & 8th ave. station A,C,E,L
213 50th Street, Brooklyn - (718) 567-9500
Subway: 53rd st. station (R Train)

Martine's Chocolates

As I stepped off the elevator on the 6th floor of Bloomingdale’s, a fabulous chocolate sensation filled my nostrils. I just followed the aroma, which took me to the delight that is Martine’s Chocolates. Martine’s is nestled amongst Bloomingdales’s large selections of luggage, faux flowers, and cookware. The store is the owned by Martine Leventer Pechenik; this branch of Martine’s is the first of two and has been in Bloomingdale’s for about 18 years. The store is divided in two: on one side, onlookers are treated to a show as confections come to life in front of their eyes. The chocolates for sale on the other side are freshly made. Julie, the self-titled “organizer at the store” was extremely helpful and offered me an abundance of samples. I learned that the pieces, made with fresh cream, are their specialty. After trying one, I can assure you that you will not be disappointed. She also showed me the chocolate metro card that they sell, which is very popular among the tourists. “You can eat it, but you can’t swipe it!” she joked. She also told me that all of their chocolates are all natural and many of them are vegan. I was amazed by the likeness of the sugar free chocolate was to the real thing. After surveying the offering, which included chocolate cars, pianos, tennis racquets and balls, animals, King Tut, and several major monuments, I decided to invest in a Cameo chocolate. I was drawn to it because of its Victorian appeal and the fact that it was made with a trilogy of delicious chocolates: milk, white and dark. A visit Martine’s is worth the effort.
Martine's @ Bloomingdales 1000 3rd Avenue 6th floor

New York, NY 10022-1230
(212) 705-2347
Subway: 59th st. Lexington Avenue station. 4,5,6,N, R, W
Martine's Chocolates too
400 East 82nd Street
New York, NY 10028-5955
(212) 744- 6289