Volume 18 • Issue 39 | February 10 - 16, 2006

Under Cover

Death by chocolate
Call it a temple to chocolate. The Battery Park Ritz Carlton kicked off its fourth annual Chocolate Bar last weekend with enough chocolate to fully satisfy UnderCover’s cravings for the foreseeable future.

“Chocolate is the flavor of romance. It’s an aphrodisiac,” said Ritz pastry chef Laurent Richard of his chocolate extravaganza. “If I asked any woman what she would want from her boyfriend for Valentine’s Day, most of them would say chocolate.”

And chocolate they get. Chocolate masks hang from the walls, a chocolate draped mannequin sits perched in a corner – lounging in a chocolate chair at a chocolate table on a chocolate Champs-Elysées. A giant chocolate cake spins endlessly, topped with a miniature Eiffel Tower, and decorated with miniature chocolate desserts. For a month, guests can reserve a table at the Rise bar overlooking the New York Harbor and sample chocolate treats while sipping endless glasses of champagne.

Why the Eiffel Tower? “It needed to have a theme so I just decided to do Paris,” said Richard, who hails from a town 20 minutes away from the city of love. “I think it’s very romantic. Paris is very romantic.”

Last Saturday night, couples sat at red candlelit tables, strewn with red rose petals, tasting chocolate and passion fruit pudding, mini black forest cake, chocolate covered strawberries and coconut chocolate brulee. The evening was not for the faint of heart: a chocolate milk-filled samovar lay in wait, with chocolate marshmallows piled beside it.

The Chocolate Bar might only last a month, but for Richard the dark sweet is a life-long commitment. “There is no one day in my life that I don’t eat chocolate,” he said. “I never get sick. Maybe there is something to it.”

For the rest of the chocolate lovers out there, they can indulge until Feb. 25. Call 917-790-2571 for reservations.

Downtown hip for Cali
Tribeca landscape architect Ken Smith beat out 23 architectural firms around the world and has been selected to be the master designer of the 1,300-acre Orange County Great Park in California.

Readers may recall a picture of Smith giving Left Coasters a whirlwind tour of his Downtown work on these pages last November. An Orange County source told us then Smith was the frontrunner. He has designed public spaces at 55 Water St., South Cove in Battery Park City and the soon-to-open plaza in front of 7 World Trade Center.

The black-spectacled architect has big plans for the big park: a canyon joining Agua Cinon corridor with a lake, orange bicycles to get around the space while preserving the park’s marine history and fighter plane runway. Hot air balloons will help visitors see it all from above.

Long distance fish query
Kotoe Ando, an official with the Tsukiji wholesale market in Tokyo, noticed John Ranard’s Fulton Fish Market essay and photos last December in Downtown Express and e-mailed us to find out how much more rent the fish mongers are paying since they moved from Downtown to the Bronx. “As you know, we have a plan to relocate the Tsukiji central wholesale market,” Ando wrote to UnderCover.

We must confess we did not know that but we extend our best wishes to the Tsukiji sellers nevertheless.


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