Monday, October 25, 2010

Leaving Las Vegas: The Candy Shoppe at the Airport

Just in case you missed all of the stores reviewed on my trip, have no fear, you still can get a quick fix at MacLaren Airport.  The Candy Shoppe has cool "Vegas" gifts like chocolate poker chips and small slot machines that dispense chocolate.  The fudge is very good as well.  Had the plain chocolate and it was terrific.

Hope to be back soon to sample the stores off the strip.

Viva Las Vegas!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Las Vegas: M&M World

So much more than candy!  That is what the sign says and boy are they right.

I reviewed this store in one of my 1st blogs ((2000 M&M), before I knew I was blogging, and have probably been to this "mecca" about 25 times.  I can always count on the good old standards and the buyers always surprise me with new goodies, each new time I visit.  This is by far the best place to get touristy gifts for everyone on your list.  I have since been to Orlando and NY, but Las Vegas is still so much fun to see.  The Coke Store and museum is also fantastic (smaller version of the one in Atlanta)

No trip to Vegas is complete for me without a quick stop at this great Concept Store.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Las Vegas: Teuscher at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort

At the risk of being redundant, which I know I am, I have to say again, I LOVE the Teuscher Champagne Truffle! 

This scrumptious delectable was certainly the first Chocolate item that I ever wrote about and the Houston Galleria Teuscher store was the first "job" I can clearly remember.

Another remembrance: My mother worked holiday seasons for a friend that owned the Teuscher's chocolate shop in the Galleria in Houston.  They needed hands, she didn't mind helping out and so she worked for chocolate.  I would come in from time to time and help also.  I was so amazed with the business model: Starting with going to the Houston's Intercontinental Airport to pick up the fragile chocolate, flown directly from Switzerland, and moving through retail store process, I fell in love with retail. International clientele, the Galleria and then there are those intricate beautiful boxes and packages. 

Herbie had it down, I was so sorry when some of the candy came in "broken", but man did I love to freely eat those unsellable morsels.  

So now that I am considerably older, and I put some brain power into thinking about it, I have my mother to blame for bad allergies (a family joke) and my wanting to work for chocolate.

What a delightful treat to see Herbie has moved his act to Miracle Mile Shops at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas-
Same little boxes, Same fantastic chocolate (+ more on this menu)...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Las Vegas: Jean Philippe Patisserie at the Aria

Take the Bellagio location and blow it out....

Chef Jean Philippe Maury has created an architectural marvel with his cafe and shop in the new and magnificent Aria Hotel and Casino.

I wasn't able to eat at the cafe but I will definitely be back to try the fare on my next trip to Vegas.  The chocolates are terrific.  The taste is second to none and the packaging is as good as it tastes.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Las Vegas: Jean Philippe Patisserie at the Bellagio

With renewed vigor from my Ah-Ha moment, I ran to the Bellagio to see the world's largest chocolate fountain.  Certified by the Guiness Book of World Records, this incredible glass fountain flows white, milk and dark chocolate, each with a very special river path, including chocolate falls,  from the ceiling to the floor.

First Video for EMC:

This is a beautiful small store selling the best of Jean Philippe's creations.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Las Vegas: Serendipity3 - my "AH-HA" moment

OK, it must be the irony of it all.

Here I am- walking the Las Vegas strip- thinking or talking with myself, saying: "what are you doing, Joe?", "are you really out here chronicling all of the great chocolate spots on Vegas Strip?", "are you really going to do this chocolate thing, for real?", "can you afford, on any level, a quest to eat all of the delicious chocolate in America?"

And I am trying to navigate my way from Caesars Palace/Forum Shops (previously discussed) to the Belagio, cutting through the parking area and looking for the fountain that Evel Knieval jumped when I was a kid, when BOOM.......A quick story: When I was a 8, I started visiting, by myself, my Great Aunt in NYC.  Something that would continue for a lifetime.  "Florency" made these pilgrimages so entertaining and FUN: somehow she got this 8 year old excited about museums, libraries and Broadway shows.  Of course, watching Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver and the amazing Mets wasn't bad either, but we always ended up, almost every night, going for a Hot Fudge Sundae or Frozen Hot Chocolate at a small place called Serendipity3. These are certainly my earliest vivid memories of eating large amounts of chocolate in one sitting....and then Boom......
....these memories flood back because AH-HA directly in front of me, blocking my path is...Serendipity3? really?

Yep, it was like a sign from above (actually)...  and yes, the frozen hot chocolate and hot fudge sundae's are still on the menu... and taste terrific     : )

Thank you Florence Marks and everyone else who sent me that Ah-Ha moment as sign to continue my search and stay true to myself and my intentions.......  eat more chocolate........

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Las Vegas: Payard at Caesars Palace

Chef Francois Payard and Caesars Palace have teamed to provide a beautiful Patisserie & Bistro at the Casino/Hotel (not in Forum Shops).

 Payard, known for fantastic chocolates and pastries, has delivered a "multi-layered experience" that includes a chocolate store, full dining restaurant and a delicious french pastry shop cafe, open for all of the meals of the day- breakfast, lunch and dinner + snacktime.

I love the huge grandfather "chocolate clock".  As the story goes, Chef Francois is a 3rd generation pastry chef and this magnificent time piece  represents the history and precision of his works. This 2000 pound, 16 ft high,  25 ft around structure produces 3 truffles every 15 minutes (69,888/yr) and shows off the current time in 9 international time zones symbolizing the "international flavors and profiles that inspire" his creations.

And lets not forget his true calling: chocolate and food.  The crepes are fantastic especially with their own chocolate sauce/paste. Also, the chocolate candy and pastries never disappoint!   I love the wafer bar!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Las Vegas: Max Brenner - The Greatest!

Max Brenner…Max Brenner…Max Brenner….
There’s no place like home, There’s no place like home, There’s no place like home!!
I LOVE THIS RESTAURANT!!!  It is exactly what I have always wanted to find/create in a dessert restaurant.  (I even wrote my senior college finance thesis on opening a dessert restaurant and here it is!).  Where do I begin?
Let’s start with just the facts, mam:
12+ locations in Israel, 24 in Australia and 3 in the USA (NYC, LV and Phily).  Locations coming to a city near you as they hired an ex-Cheesecake Factory exec. to help with US growth.  Boston is next (yes, there is room for Max’s and Finale!).
Max Brenner crosses a chocolate shop with a chocolate themed causal dining restaurant.  Most things on the menu have some chocolate component- including the cocoa dusted French Fries.  I had the bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado sandwich (with the fries) to start. Avocado was more of a creamy spread than I expected, but tasty. Other menus items looked very legit.
Note: On one episode of Man vs. Food, Adam pulled out a win by ordering French Fries to accompany his Ice Cream Sundae Challenge.  Adding the salt allowed him to get through the wall and finish all of the sweet dish. I knew I would need to pull that trick out one day and did it ever pay off tonight, as I sampled several of the desserts on this menu.  This trick worked out all the better for me because the fries I ordered had a dusting of chocolate on them… thanks for the tip Adam  : )
The chocolate pizza with marshmallow and toffee toppings was huge and AMAZING. 

The Milk chocolate iced Grinita drink was UNBELIEVABLE.  Hot chocolate (which I sampled) is milk chocolate ganache melted, WOW.

And then the store: SO CLEVER.  They have branded and created items that make this a virtual Williams-Sonoma for chocolate.  I stocked up for the winter with ever option they sell.  Specially designed mugs for holding hot chocolate close- got it. Well thought out single portion stacked fondue bowls for carefully melting chocolate- got it.  Alice in Wonderland milk shake “mug” with straw – got it.  Chocolate to put in all of these devices and some to eat out of the bag - got it all.

I can’t wait to have one of these in Dallas-hopefully soon. (Hear that Nancy and David- go get them, please).  Otherwise, I will be using many frequent flyer miles to visit…
PS- Max, may I have a “no waiting in line” pass, please.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Las Vegas: Vosges at the Forum Shops

A hop skip and a jump away and across Las Vegas Blvd is the entrance to the Forum Shops and just inside this entrance is Vosges Haut Chocolates.   This Vegas branch of the Chicago chocolatier offers all the treats that Chicago and NY offer including some of the newest delights. I really enjoy their Bars.  Vosges is now into Baked mixes: Pancakes and Cookies in particular.  This is chocolate for the discerning palate: The Carmel Marshmallows are terrific and Red Fire Chili Tortillas were good, sweet and hot.   Love this concept… try it whenever you pass it… NYC, Chicago, LV, etc… Packaged mixes can be found in some specialty grocers near you.  In Texas, Central Market is carrying the pancake mix.

Caramel Marshmallows - Caramel Marshmallows, 9 pieces(

 - Red Fire Chocolate Tortilla Chips

This trip I bought Caramel  Marshmallows- a huge favorite. 

The Red Fire Chocolate Tortilla Chips-
Sweet with a wicked kick!

Honey Truffles will make there seasonal debut soon…..heard the bee farmer in Hawaii may give it up which may force this truffle off the market… Vosges, Say it isn’t so!!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Las Vegas: Ghirardelli Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor

Down an alley, between Harrah’s and The Imperial Palace is the Ghirardelli Chocolate shop.   When I was there a very good 70’s rock cover band was playing Billy Joel and Elton John on the outside stage next door. 

This is an old fashion ice cream parlor.  You can belly up to the counter and they will make you a hot fudge sundae, Ghirardelli Vegas style, or shop around the store from the entire line of Ghirardelli products.

I still like the "squares" sold everywhere now, but seemingly more authentic when purchased from the store itself.
Making a new friend

Squares: Dark Chocolate with Mint and Milk Chocolate with Caramel are terrific and now part of a 15 flavor family of squares.

This may not be Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco but if you find this place at the end of the alley,  it is a great throwback.

Have fun (like I did).


Friday, October 15, 2010

Las Vegas: Venetian Hotel and Grand Canal Shops- Godiva and GG Santi-Venezia

You have to love Las Vegas! The Grand Canal Shops are a "grand" example of the evolution of Las Vegas into a monumental show town. Walking into this shopping center or The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace makes you feel as if you have been transported to Venice or Rome.

In the Canal Shops there is a Godiva store. The new holiday 2010 truffles are in and quite good: Pumpkin + the Bakery Dessert line up!

A very small kiosk in the hotel that sells some imported European chocolates and some baked goods from a local bakery. The mini cupcakes were nice. Definitely a good spot if you need a quick fix and are at the Venetian Hotel.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Las Vegas: Ethel M Chocolates - Shop and Factory Tour

Took a quick taxi ride over to the Ethel M factory. Been threatening to do it for several years and didn't realize how close it was to the strip or I would have done it sooner. Only about 8 minute ride from Hard Rock Hotel. A beautiful cactus garden is the first thing you see- very serene place to wander, especially if you are waiting for a taxi to retrieve you after the tour.

This location has a small M&M store and a separate Ethel M shop connected to the factory. The Tour is self-guided and takes only a few minute. The tour comes to an end with a free sample of one of the chocolates made that day. No chance to sneak out- the tour path dumps you right in the store so you can buy from their large variety of freshly made chocolates.

Chocolate Pecan Brittle is terrific.

My new favorites are the Dark Chocolate Honey Truffles which have definitely made my top 10 list!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

SINsational treats in Sin City.- walking tour!

I took a business trip to Las Vegas and found a few hours to search for the great chocolate delectables that this eclectic town has to offer. Although the time allotted kept me pretty close to the strip, I was not disappointed by what I found. Next trip, I'll venture out for the more local fare.

If your walking my chocolate tour, start at the Venetian (Santi-Venezia Cioccolata) and work your way to Harrahs (Ghirardelli Chocolate & Ice Cream Shop), then the Forum Shops (Vosges and Max Brenner), Caesars Palace (Payard), Bellagio (Jean-Phillippe), Aria (Jean-Philippe), Miracle Mile Shopping Center (Teuscher) and end at the granddaddy of all stores the M&M store at Showcase at the MGM. Just off the strip, there is also the Ethel M Factory & tour- a taxi ride away.

If you do it from 4:00pm - midnight like I did, soon after you'll crash at your hotel or you'll be sent to the hospital in a diabetic coma. Either way, the walk was great exercise. : )

Look for specific recommendations at each place coming soon.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I'm Back, again....

I never stopped eating more chocolate, just took a long break from writing about it. It is time to begin again... so please look forward to my new beginnings...

LAS VEGAS! Here I come.....