Friday, June 19, 2009

Chocolate Pit Stop

Last Saturday found Jody & I wandering downtown to do errands. Between dropping off kitchen knives for sharpening and my Mac for servicing (loose mic connection), we found a little place that is a chocoholic's haven: Max Brenner's, Chocolate by the Bald Man. I kid you not. There is a real Max Brenner, and in fact he was interviewed in a food mag I picked up at the grocery store this week. He really is bald, and the magazine hailed him as a modern day Willy Wonka.

Mmmmmmmm, the smell of chocolate. Two enormous steel vats greet you in the entry: one white, one dark. You can see the chocolate being stirred through the clear lid. There was also melted milk chocolate in a smaller vat on the counter, which was being constantly streamed onto plates of treats as we stood in line. I lost count of the number of Belgian waffles drizzled in gooey sweetness, artfully arranged on pure white plates. When our turn came, we decided to split a hot chocolate (milk; I think next time I'll go for dark with orange) but splurge on two treats: a brownie and a cupcake.

The shop is decorated in mochas and hazelnuts, with pop art on the walls and little wooden letters that spell out CHOCOLATE IS GOOD FOR YOU. The square wooden stools are worn from happy consumers, the little tables a good size for two treats and drinks.

I had seen the descriptor, "Hug Mug" in connection with our hot chocolate, on the menu board. It appears that a Hug Mug is almost teardrop-shaped, with no handle. This way you can cup it in your hands and tip the warm, made-from-melted-chocolate beverage into your mouth. It cools fast, but really - how long do you expect it to last?

I wouldn't say the brownie was the best I'd ever had, though it was certainly among the richest - and it being warmed and doused with a trail of chocolate didn't hurt. Jody's cupcake was tasty enough, though not as fluffy as homemade. Still, as a decadent afternoon pit stop, it was appreciated far more than a coffee shop with mass-produced muffins, which tend to plague Sydney. You can get decent (or at least halfway decent) coffee pretty much anywhere, but pastries are another matter.
I think the next time I have a chocolate craving, I will opt for something more tantalising than milk ho-cho... and next time, I'm not sharing.


Nathan Pralle said...

A store just for chocolate? Good lord. I'd be lost.

So, do you agree that Aussies do chocs better than Americans? Or is it just me? Aussie chocolate just seems so much more....smooth? Creamy? I dunno. Nothing compares.

Julia said...

Nathan, have you had Swiss chocolate? German? Belgian? Aussies and Europeans do chocolate far better than Americans. Canadians are smart enough to import European chocolate when we want the good stuff :) but I am quite partial to a KitKat.

Nathan Pralle said...

I've had...Swiss, I think. Well, something labeled Swiss, but I've not actually BEEN to Switzerland, so I can't be sure if it was "real" or not. So I guess the answer is more properly, no, I haven't.

We Americans have our speciality in combining chocolate with peanut butter in creative and tasty ways, it seems. Every time one of my relatives requests lollies from here, it's always something with PB included.


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