Sunday, October 5, 2008

Yes, Life is Sweet

One thing I adore about living in New York is that there is a seemingly endless selection of bakeries, pastry shops, candy stores, and gourmet marketplaces. There are the places that I've stopped in once or twice, either by whim or recommendation, and there are the locales that I find myself visiting by default when I'm looking for a good brownie, a British Cadbury bar, or a block of artisan chocolate made with sea salt and bacon. I've even reached the point recently when I felt that there was nothing I hadn't tried: no sugary treat left un-sampled. But then I was having a conversation with a co-worker about restaurants in the Lower East Side, and he mentioned a shop that he had been certain I had stumbled upon before. I had not, but how could he have been so sure that I must know the place? The store is called The Sweet Life, and its name and its goods are the reason why I should have found it months and months ago. Alas, I only went for the first time this weekend, but I can safely say that it already has made my life sweeter.
The Sweet Life is a candy and gourmet chocolate family owned retail shop and has apparently been a landmark on the on the Lower East Side for the past 25 years. I can see why this would be true; the first thing that struck me upon entering this tiny store was the strong aroma of chocolate and sugar that had permeated the air. Next, I looked from corner to corner and saw clear jars filled with chocolates and jelly beans, stacks of finely wrapped chocolate bars, tins of tea, containers overflowing with nuts and dried fruits, scales and metal scoopers, tiered displays of chocolate candies, bottles of sweeteners and spreads...well, I could go on and on. I have no problem admitting that this tiny shop gave me a brief vision of what my personal heaven could be.
The second wave of adoration for The Sweet Life came later, when I tried their milk chocolate covered raisins. Now, I've been patronizing candy shops since I was little, always delighting in filling the small plastic bags with bulk candy from the plastic bins, and generally choosing at least one small handful of chocolate covered raisins. Every other chocolate covered raisin I've ever eaten pales in comparison to the rich, creamy, and properly sweetened chocolate of these raisins. I found out that they have their own chocolate machines, and while I could not extract any kind of recipe from the gregarious young shop keeper, I knew at first taste that this was a product of true quality. And continuing with the idea of high-quality ingredients, I was also thrilled to pick up a small container of Valrhona cocoa power. A product of France, Valrhona chocolate is supposed to be amongst the very, very best in the world. When purchasing the cocoa, the shop keeper urged me to try some in hot chocolate, which I believe I'm now required to do. The rest will be going into a batch of brownies which ought to be the best I've ever baked, I'm sure. Just having spent several minutes in this store, I feel that my weekend on the whole has been a success. But now I slightly worry: how many other wondrous New York City candy and chocolate shops am I missing?

The Sweet Life

63 Hester Street

New York, NY 10002


1 comment:

Jenny said...

nice review. i used to live around the corner from this shop and would run in to buy a piece of bulk chocolate after a bad day. :+)