Ah Michel, who knew that I would fall in love with you. It wasn’t planned, it just happened and when I least expected it. You see, I was out shopping with my mother on 5th avenue…perhaps more window shopping than any real shopping. After hours of walking we stopped at Chocolate Michel Cluizel, this tiny little store with chocolates and a replica of the Eiffel Tower in the window. There were seats inside; seats inside a chocolate shop always means that they serve hot chocolate and being a chocolate shop the hot chocolate must be made of actual chocolate. A quick scan of the menu on the door…they have many; white, milk or dark in either a traditional hot chocolate or a thick chocolaty shot. We walk in and grab a seat by the window.

Then everything seemed to switch to slow motion…just like those love stories in the movies. I went up to the counter and asked for one milk chocolate for my mother and one dark for me. The woman at the counter then turned to glass containers that were filled with little chocolate chips and put a generous amount into a little pot. The chocolate was melted down, milk was added and the whole thing was put into a little ceramic jug and brought to our table with a white cup and saucer and a square chocolate on the side. I watched the whole thing from the counter and when the woman finished and came to ring me up at the cash I realized that my mouth was open in amazement and I was smiling. I had come to the realization that this could not possibly be a bad hot chocolate. I have a checklist in my head of things that I look for when I order one and I saw most of the boxes being ticked in those 5 or so minutes it took her to make our hot chocolates.

My mother thinks that this is the Ultimate Hot Chocolate and on this trip, on this day I completely agree with her. My dark hot chocolate was bitter but not too bitter, it was smooth and creamy. There was enough in the little jug for 2 full cups of hot chocolate and it was so good, I probably would have had a third if there was more. From our little table we watched many people come in to buy chocolates and if it wasn’t for their strong New York accents I would have sworn that we had been transported far far away. From inside the noises of 5th avenue seemed distant and all you could hear were was romantic French songs that made you feel like you perhaps you were a little closer to Paris. It was hard to leave.

Verdict: There are three chocolate cafes like this in the world, one in Paris, one in Riyad and this one in New York. If you want a good hot chocolate, find them (and bring your mother). Chocolat Michel Cluizel, 584 5th Avenue, New York, USA ($5.00)

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