I hope you're off for the holiday and out gallivanting about town today. If so, you might want to pop in to MarieBelle for a cup of her delicious hot chocolate. It's a meal in itself, so go hungry, but the real feast is for your eyes. Though nothing in my mind tops the delightful excess of Charbonnel et Walker, MarieBelle is giving the storied chocolate house a run for its money. Her charming SoHo location is teeming with flavorful chocolates wrapped in beautiful papers and decorated with mind-bogglingly intricate designs. Such is their beauty that it would be hard to convince yourself to eat one, were it not for the intriguing, mouth-watering aroma that emanates from within. MarieBelle experiments with eclectic flavor combinations, but not as wildly as, say, La Maison du Chocolat or Vosges, whose gourmet creations can be either genius (chocolate covered bacon) or hard to swallow (wasabi + chocolate = acid on my tongue).
My friend Erin and I caught up over a cup of their signature Aztec hot chocolate yesterday, and during a brief chat with the barista, I learned that founder Maribel Lieberman is actually from Honduras, which I would never have guessed from the tres French decor, but as Erin noted, many of the flavors had a Latin twist to them (spicy mixes, exotic fruits). If you're working today or don't live in the area, fret not -- MarieBelle's concoctions are available for order online.
It's going to be a warm, delicious winter.
484 Broome near Wooster
762 Madison between 65th and 66th
For your viewing pleasure, I snapped some photos, en secret.
The lovely, be-chandeliered interior, where chocolates spill from vintage trunks.
The designs that adorn each piece of chocolate are created in France and then pressed on at MarieBelle's Brooklyn HQ.
A dizzying array of gorgeously wrapped flavors.
And now, our favorites. These tins were so lovely we would have bought them no matter what was in them (MarieBelle's Aztec Iced Chocolate mix). Not cheap at $25 per, but it doubles as chic countertop accoutrement.