Tag Archives: Joan Coukos

Chocolate Tasting at Chocolat Moderne

13 Feb

On Saturday, I went to an open house at Chocolat Moderne!!  Swoon!

You may remember the name Chocolat Moderne from my Gabby Awards post.  I was kind of obsessed.  That’s why I was so excited to take a little tour of the chocolate factory and meet the founder, Joan Coukos.  The Greek American chocolatier was so sweet.  We exchanged stories of where in Greece we’re from and chatted about other Greek Americans living in New York City.


I got to sample the many delectable chocolates Chocolat Moderne has to offer.  One of my favorites was the Cocoa Casbah Hot Chocolate ~ Kama Sutra, an exotic blend of cardamom, clove, and coconut.  It’s chai tea making love to hot chocolate.


I also sampled the champagne truffles, which I think would make for a romantic Valentine’s Day gesture.  This special chocolate has “rare collector’s Marc de Bourgogne pressed from chardonnay grapes and a layer of dark ganache scented with a mellow aged Pierre Ferrand 1er Cru de Cognac from the Grande Champagne appellation.”

As lovely as the champagne truffles were, I have to say I loved the Moderne ~ Red Fruits bar.  This bar is a “blend of fine dark chocolates from Valrhona, is a fresh breeze of red berries and red stone fruits.  The crunchy toffee nuggets sprinkled throughout the bar release the unique and fragrant essences of cherries, strawberries and raspberries.”  The dark chocolate was intense and the raspberry tart.



Chocolat Moderne has special Valentine assortments that would go lovely with a nice bottle of red wine or champagne.



The factory is located at 27 West 20th Street, Suite 904, and is open every day from noon to 6pm.  It’s definitely worth dropping by to see the chocolate-making action and to pick up some artisnal chocolates.  You can also inquire about chocolate tastings held at the factory … something I intend to get in on!


2011 Gabby Awards: The After Party

14 Jun

Are you sick of hearing about the 2011 Gabby Awards yet?  I’m going to skip over the actual awards ceremony itself because as the main event it’s already gotten press coverage elsewhere.  What I want to talk about now is the after party!  I mean, let’s be honest here, most of the time when you’re at home on your couch watching the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards you have to sit through an awful lot of boring acceptance speeches.  Don’t you really wish you could find out who’s dancing with whom at the after parties?  I have to hand it to the Gabby Awards, though: instead of a bunch of “I’d like to thank my publicist” speeches, the winners shared beautiful and tender stories of immigration and growing up Greek American.  I was thoroughly engaged and inspired.

After the 2011 Gabby Awards ceremony on Ellis Island, we boarded a ferry to Chelsea Piers.  You may recall I recently spent an afternoon exploring Chelsea Piers.  Not surprisingly, the awards ceremony had run waaaaaaay over schedule.  Hey, we were on Greek time, what do you expect?  We’re notorious for being late.  We were tired and hungry and probably felt a tinge of what our Greek ancestors felt when they were coming into Ellis Island all those years ago.  The pitch-black sky was perfect for witnessing the surprise Gabby Awards founder Gregory Pappas had arranged: the Empire State Building lit up in the colors of the Greek flag!

When we got to Chelsea Piers at 11:30 pm, Greek American Iron Chef Cat Cora had prepared a special buffet dinner for us.  Cat Cora was raised in Jackson, Mississippi, so her food is a unique pairing of Greek and Southern flavors.  Unfortunately for me (a vegetarian), both Greek and Southern cooking tend to focus on meat.  My tablemates told me the moussaka was delicious.  I particularly enjoyed Cat Cora’s melitzanosalata (a flavorful eggplant spread) and her more innovative asagio orzo.

If you go to Cat Cora’s website, she offers some free recipes.  My dad is obsessed with avocados (you’ll have to wait to read my memoir for the story behind this) so I want to tell him about her avocado tzatzkiki spread.

I have to admit, though, I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so even before I checked out the main course I was at the dessert table!  And it was to the dessert table I kept returning.  There were too-pretty-to-eat cookies by Eleni’s, a bakery I’ve languished in many times.  There were tiny squares of bliss by Chocolat Moderne.  I’m a sucker for gourmet chocolates.  What I loved about Chocolate Moderne, founded by Greek American chocolatier Joan Coukos, is that the gourmet chocolate company invokes classic Greek flavors in their chocolates.  Does Kalamata olives and chocolate sounds like a strange flavor combination?  It’s not.  It’s ammmmazing!  The dessert table also featured the best cupcake I have ever tasted, by the Greek American sisters Katherine Kallinis and Sophie LaMontagne behind Georgetown Cupcakes.  Seriously, Magnolia Bakery has nothing on Georgetown Cupcakes.  My sister’s a huge cupcake fan (not quite to the extent that my dad is obsessed with avocados but let’s just say she’s done a lot “research” into finding the best cupcakes in NYC) so I’m thinking we have to take a roadtrip to DC this summer to meet these Greek American cupcake sisters and eat their cupcakes!

As we ate all the delicious food and drank hearty glasses of pinot noir the band played Greek music.  Glykeria took to the stage to perform.  She is so cute and put on a great show.  It wasn’t long before many of us had pushed the tables and white couches away to start dancing.  Some people even got up on the tables and started dancing.  If you’ve ever been to a Greek restaurant or club, you know this is not at all uncommon.

But did I mention the dessert table??