NEW YORK—The weather in New York is expected to go below 40 degrees this Thanksgiving. In such freezing weather, what’s more comforting that a warm, deliciously scented chocolate store? Probably nothing. Cailler’s pop-up store in Mahanattan’s West Village may be what we all need right now.
Cailler has been producing chocolate in Broc, Switzerland, for almost 200 years, but it has not made it to the United States yet. This week, the chocolaterie has opened a seven-day pop-up store to get New Yorkers acquainted with the brand through free chocolate tastings and a virtual reality experience.
I’ll be honest: when I walked into the store, I had never heard of Cailler before. However, it took just a few minutes for the salespeople to immerse me in the brand’s world. I learned that the Maison Cailler, established in 1819, is still the factory that produces all the chocolate of the brand.
Prices start from 4.50 for the L’Écorcé tablets, which include a dark chocolate tablet with 54 percent cocoa and salted caramel. I got one as a Thanksgiving gift to a friend, and he loved it. Furthermore, the pop-up store also offers the possibility to create a personalized holiday gift card on the spot. If you want to buy one of the gift boxes, however, be ready to spend around 30 dollars.
I tried the L’Art du Brut collection, an assortment of dark and milk chocolate with almonds, hazelnuts, blueberries and cranberries, which has an intense, compelling taste. There is also a vast selection of pralines, such as the Meringue Swirl, milk chocolate with a heart of crispy meringue, and the Dark Hazelnut Crush, a dark chocolate bonbon with roasted hazelnuts.
The Winter Selection gift box—which I’m told was created special for the New York pop-up store—features a series of pralines with delicate flavors, such as ginger, candied orange, and honey. I chatted with a salesman named Alessandro, who was born and raised in Brooklyn but has Italian origins, and he stuffed me with a series of different flavors from the Winter Box. You know when someone says, “It melts in your mouth,” and you never quite believe it? Well, that’s actually the case with these bonbons.
I tried out the store’s much-praised virtual reality “experience,” and I was … underwhelmed. Standing there with the headset on, I was transported to a valley in the middle of the Swiss Alps, mooing cows all around me. Now let me say, as an Italian, I’ve always found the Swiss landscape too perfect. Too glossy. And it didn’t improve with the next segment: a trip to Cailler’s chocolate lab. In all, the VR was, at best, corny.
The New York store closes Saturday, November 26. After that, you’ll have to go all the way to San Francisco, where the company will open another pop-up store in December.
All photos by Simone Somekh.