Monday, March 30, 2009
FIKA: ESPRESSO BAR/ CAFÉ
41 West 58th Street, Midtown Manhattan
March 27th, 2009
Judith Ecochard and from FIKA’s website
In a convenient stretch of midtown right of the holy retail Mecca (57th Street and Fifth Avenue)…a revelatory haven for java that passes the coffee snobs’ test (us), hand crafted mouth watering chocolates, and old school/real deal, home made sandwiches and pastries—beckon the weary.
And that’s how we felt last Thursday on a cold and dreary night in Manhattan---with weather that managed to render the normally packed streets of the Big Apple-all ghost town empty.
We were revived in a New York minute however, even before we had a sip of an aromatic caffeine beverage- like the medium bodied, roasted in Sweden by Löfbergs Lila- Fika House Blend coffee.
For when we stepped inside the softly lit Swedish art filled boutique enclave of clean black and white palette, standup bar and cafe stools -a jovial crowd was already gathered around Håkan Mårtensson, the Executive Pastry Chef and Chocolatier- like moths to a flame.
For good reason…
Mårtensson, a passionate Swedish trained chef awarded with culinary honors (a gold medal in the individual competition of the INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED Culinary Olympics!!!), was dispensing morsels of hand rolled truffles and chocolates that he “invented” including a divine Scottish whiskey filled dark chocolate confection.
We exercised great restraint when sampling the other creations-all made from Callebaut and Valrhona chocolates and amped up with lingonberries, raspberries, passion fruit, creamy/crunchy hazelnut, Tahitian Vanilla, espresso, ‘kola’ lemon etc. ($1.50-$2.00 apiece). The morsels are addictive…and are so superior in quality to the typical chocolate pieces in this country.
We don’t know why Americans even bother with that unsatisfying other stuff.
Perked up and ready for more, we sipped an aromatic macchiato, properly drawn ---when engaging one of Fika’s co-founders-Lars Akerland.
Conversing in perfect English, Akerland is one of those worldly entrepreneurial types that thrive in the competitive atmosphere of NYC. In fact he ‘went’’ through 247 real estate spaces in the “capital of the world” before scoring this primo locale---which he laboriously renovated with his biz partner, Executive Chef David Johansson.
We were dumbfounded that Tom Cruise in the flick “Cocktail” served as this Swede’s hospitality inspiration…but whatever. The results are soon to be our new midtown hang.
In fact we were BEGGING Akerland to open a FIKA (a Swedish verb that translates into “take a coffee break”) in our underserved ‘hood.
Mårtensson introduces a special limited edition of chocolates commemorating Earth Day and themed around the four elements: Water (blueberries, rosemary), Fire (cinnamon, Tabasco), Wind (Bailey’s Frangelico, Amaretto liquors), and Earth (hazelnut).
Available in a recycled paper box of four pieces---partial proceeds of the hand made swirls- go to the World Wildlife Fund.
Seriously, we practically fell in love with this guy after sampling these chocolates. Wow.
FYI: A second FIKA is located at 407 Park Avenue/28th Street
INFO: FIKA NYC
41 WEST 58TH STREET
(BETWEEN 5TH & 6TH AVENUE)
NEW YORK, NY 10019
PH+1 212 832 0022
407 PARK AVENUE SOUTH
(BETWEEN 28TH & 29TH STREET)
NEW YORK, NY 10016
PH+1 646 649 5133