Thursday, June 25, 2009

Swedish Sweet

Yesterday I tasted most (ok, all) of the chocolates at Fika, a stylish little espresso bar on Central Park South in Manhattan, right next to The Plaza. “Fika,” in case you’re wondering, is a Swedish verb that translates to “take a coffee break,” and at Fika you can have your coffee with an impressive assortment of pastries. But it’s their line of truffles and bonbons that really grabbed my attention.

They’re made by Fika’s newly appointed resident chocolatier, Hakan Martensson, a twenty-something Swede with a lot of talent and an impressive culinary pedigree. As a member of the Swedish Culinary Team, Martensson placed gold during the Culinary Olympics in October 2008. He hand-tempers the chocolate for his confections, and makes them in small batches using milk and dark chocolate from Callebaut and Valrhona. His standout pieces include a Whiskey Truffle (made with Laphroaig Single Malt), a Gianduja Truffle (with a salty end-note) and a pure Dark Truffle (made with Valrhona Pur Caribe chocolate). Martensson is a classic perfectionist, a trait that’s reflected in each piece of chocolate he lovingly crafts. And it’s for this reason that he won’t ship his chocolates by mail. As he puts it, “When someone takes them out of the store, I know they’re perfect. But when they’re shipped, you have no idea what’s going to happen.” So you’ll have to hoof-it to one of Fika’s two locations to try these incredible chocolates: 41 W. 58th Street (bet. 5th and 6th); 212-832-0022; and 407 Park Ave. South (bet. 28th and 29th St.); 646-649-5133.