By STEVEN DESALVO
For Montclair Local
In Montclair Eats, food writer Steven DeSalvo compares dishes at Montclair
restaurants. DeSalvo has a degree in hospitality business management from the University of Delaware and has worked extensively in restaurants and hotels.Are you hungry? If you have a restaurant you’d like to see covered, and want to make a suggestion for Montclair Eats, write to us at email@example.com.
I have always associated Valentine’s Day with chocolate. I think it is probably the most synonymous food item with it. Most people would probably agree with me.
I thought it would be a good idea to give you a quick tour around town of some of my favorite chocolate-themed sweets. Any of these would be perfect as a treat for your Valentine. The only stipulation I had for the delicious creations I chose were that they needed to be (almost) entirely made of chocolate. First, I sampled a six-chocolate assortment from Vesta Chocolate in Upper Montclair. After that, I indulged in the lavender brownie (it’s vegan!) from Piccola Cucina 98. Finally, I finished with dessert: the cupcake-of-the-month from The Little Daisy Bake Shop, chocolate-covered strawberry.
- Vesta Chocolate just recently opened in Upper Montclair and I could not be more excited. The six-flavor chocolate box I chose was exceptional, containing six delightfully unique, well-balanced truffles. Earl Grey, the first flavor, had a perfectly subtle influence of tea flavor. I was worried that it would be too strong, but this was not a problem at all. Next was strawberries and cream: the flavor of the jammy filling was the essence of strawberry. The third was cassis, which had a delicious depth to it, thanks to the black currant flavor. The fourth was a passionfruit truffle that was so intensely tropical, it almost made me feel that it was warm outside. Salted caramel was a well-executed version of a classic. The final chocolate was café au lait flavored, which was a great way to end an around-the-world tasting in chocolate. The chocolates are all visually beautiful inside and out, with distinct colors, textures, and layers all over. Be sure to try their hot chocolate as well!
- Piccola Cucina 98 has one of the more interesting brownies that I have had. The name means “little kitchen” in Italian, and the venue is operated out of the kitchen of Corso 98. Cucina 98 has been providing Montclair with delicious food for over a decade now. I remember when they used to sell ravioli only — they were so good too! This time around I had the lavender brownie. It is amazing to me how well the floral intense aroma and flavor of lavender goes with rich, sumptuous chocolate. The two flavors pair incredibly well. It is also helped along by the fudgey texture of the brownie, which feels like pure decadence. I would have absolutely no idea that the brownie was vegan if it didn’t say so on the tag!
- The Little Daisy Bake Shop’s rotating special cupcake is always an exciting constant in my life. Some people have television shows, I have rotating food specials at local restaurants and television shows. This month’s is a perfect Valentine’s offering called “chocolate covered strawberry.” Imagine the most moist cupcake topped with a beautifully shaped placement of strawberry buttercream that has been dipped in chocolate. It is absolutely as good as it sounds. The strawberry buttercream has a strength to it so that it provides an excellent textural contrast with the cupcake, which is moist and fluffy. The chocolate flavor coming from both sides makes for a fully rounded flavor that almost doesn’t feel particularly rich. (I did say almost.) Little Daisy is a nut-free bakery.
All of these delicious treats would be a great gift to get your Valentine. Or if you really want to spoil your beloved, get them all three!
In this column:
598 Valley Road
Piccola Cucina 98
98 Walnut St.
The Little Daisy Bake Shop
622 Valley Road