Rachel Zoe Insler tells us she’s preparing to open Bespoke Chocolates tomorrow in the alley that’s tucked into Avalon Bowery Place (so far, she says, she’s the only tenant, though the landlords are shopping another space as a café with outdoor seating). Insler is a former neuroscientist and Union Square Cafe pastry cook who became obsessed with chocolate while apprenticing at Notting Hill’s Melt. She tells us that, unlike the typical American chocolatier, she focuses on unique flavors and “terroir” rather than on cocoa percentages. Wait, terroir?
“I treat chocolate more like you would a coffee or wine,” she explains, going on to describe the earthy, smoky, unrefined flavor of her hand-rolled Colombian dark-chocolate truffle (it’s 78 percent cocoa with a bit of Ronnybrook cream and butter). For something fruitier, she fills a Venezuelan Valrhona chocolate with cognac, or a Caribbean chocolate with black tea and apricot (truffles are $2.25). Insler favors salt over sugar, and her signature item is a dark-chocolate shell containing sea-salted caramel and topped with crushed Martin’s pretzels. She’ll add chocolate bars and a Nutella-like chocolate-hazelnut spread once her one-woman shop is up and running.
Bespoke Chocolates, 6 Extra Pl., off E 1st St., nr. Bowery; 212-260-7103