Monday, April 07, 2008

There is no Max Brenner

In my family, I am known for two personality disorders. First, I was born in New York. My wife and daughters forgive this, though, because they know that my mother lived there at the time I was born, and they accept that I felt it important to be near her at that moment. Also, I eventually transferred loyalty from the Yankees to the Red Sox, and so I am mainly forgiven for the original geographic sin.

The second is a more persistent problem. I really don't care much about chocolate. It's not that I don't like chocolate. It's just that it is not particularly important to me. This is beyond the comprehension of my XX-chromosome housemates. As the years have passed, I have learned to say, "Oh good", when my wife suggests we go to some other place to buy or eat chocolate. (I used to say, "Why?" and get piercing looks of the type employed by Superman when melting sheets of steel with his heat vision.)

So, after the McBurney reunion on Saturday, we wandered over to Union Square in NYC and went to a place called Max Brenner. This is kind of a chocolate emporium, based on somebody's fantasy realization of what Willy Wonka would build at retail. It is a big place, seating hundreds, and offers a sit-down area for dozens of chocolate-laced "foods" as well as a place to buy to take. It comes complete with fake chocolate pipelines reaching from one end of the store to the other, ending in large basins in which an electronic paddle mixes up 40 gallons of white or dark chocolate. As you wait, they parsimoniously offer you small samples of liquid and solid chocolate confections. Not enough to satisfy you. Just enough to whet your appetite.

After a 45-minute wait surrounded by hopeful 20- and 30-something year olds who have come down to lower Manhattan with their dates, or single-sex groups of three or four who don't have dates and used to go to Haagen Daz on the upper East Side, we get in.

Lots of choice, including the "mess" shown in the picture. We order. And instead of ecstasy spreading across the faces of Mrs. L and our friends, a vague disappointment. It turns out that the hype is better than the product. "Not very good chocolate", says one. "The granita is too grainy," says another. "Not enough brownie in the 'mess'", says the third. I extend my sympathies and graciously pick up the tab, just $37 for the four desserts.

My chocolate-free mango and yogurt drink, by the way, was excellent. But, really, there is no Max Brenner.


Anonymous said...

There is no Max Brenner because, like eating chocolate, it is more a state of mind than an actual food. After all haven't you noticed that people who eat chocolate are happy people. Choclate, like ice cream and some other "happy" foods are eaten for the psychological lift they bring (certainly not for the health benefits!)

Anonymous said...

Don't likr chocolate? What are you? A Commie? :-)

Anonymous said...

People born without chocolate receptors tend to be thin most of their lives. You (and my husband) seem to be good examples of that. Sorry you don't know what you're missing - but congrats on reducing your risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Ian Furst said...

Any chocolate is good chocolate. Enjoying the blog, the enterprise level advice is appreciated for a small clinic. If you think if appropriate would you consider addin my blog to your blogroll

Thanks Ian.

e-Patient Dave said...

I was surprised to hear you say chocolate didn't thrill you, since I recalled hearing you get ecstasized over some exotic brand. But ah, it was about a chocolate your wife apparently loves.

All is explained.

I must say, I'm like you re the stuff. Except, and I DO mean except, an Israeli friend taught me about his wife's favorite, Sprungli chocolate (the Swiss parent of Lindt), which I have to say is exQUISite.

Only available in Switzerland, he says, so on a layover in Geneva, I got some for them. And let me tell you, when I first engaged with one of their truffles, I had a *relationship* with it that lasted about 5 minutes.

So I wonder if your chocstatic readers say "YEAH, that's what I'm talkin' BOUT!" or if it's not always so Harry-Met-Sally good.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the majority of people I know who most appreciate high quality dark chocolate are quite thin. You only start getting into trouble with the fake stuff, and of course sugar- and cream- filled chocolate candies.

Also, I think they've done studies showing that women are more susceptible to the the effects of theobromine and phenylethylamine in chocolate. These are the compounds that mimic the feelings of falling in love -- and perhaps why women crave chocolate more than men do.

Also, Dr. Val, they're coming out with studies every day that suggest that dark chocolate is good for your heart, brain, life... I'm not sure what's true, but I heartily agree. As a chocolate tour guide in San Francisco, I eat tons of chocolate, and I'm very happy and healthy.

Dreaming again said...

You know, I had been so impressed with you after the Dr. A show. Sigh .... ;)

Dark chocolate is a great anti inflammatory as well. In limited quantities as well, of coarse!!!

Doctor David said...

As Neo learned... there is no spoon, either.