I’ve always been a fan of FIKA. FIKA is a Swedish coffee shop that has three stores in New York so far (though big plans are in the works for a fourth store). The word fika, according to the website, roughly translates to taking a coffee break, so the store itself is mostly known for its high quality coffee.
Which is sad because their chocolate is fantastic aswell.
Håkan Mårtensson,a chocolatier who has, among other things, won a gold medal at the 2008 culinary Olympics, has a very playfu lside as well as a strong mastery of what you can do with chocolate. In the kitchen there is a foot tall Yoda made of chocolate, and a dragon draped around a mountain, which I found out he actually made live in front of an audience at a chocolate expo. And you get the feeling from the flavors of his truffles that he is always experimenting and pushing the limits of what you can do with chocolate.
I had always wanted to meet Håkan since I heard from one of the staff that he often comes tothe shop to check in and do work there in their impossibly small kitchen. My fiance and I often go there on the weekends for chocolate and coffee, but today we decided to get coffee there on a weekday morning, and as soon as we entered the stylish shop I saw him.
I turned to myfiance. ”That’s him! Oh my gosh that’s him!” I was so excited, I got hisattention and gestured ”I <3 U" making a heart shape with my fingers. Yes excitement turns me into a crazyfangirl. He smiled and went back to his work. I really wanted to meet him and tell him how much of a fan I am.
But then Ihesitated. I didn’t want to bother him while he was at work. Who knows what kind of masterpiece he was about to make. The creative genius can not be stopped for just a fan!
Michael brought me down to earth.
”You’ll never know unless you ask, right?” He convinced me to ask one of the baristas if I could take a picture with him, hoping that he would take just a minute to come and say hello. The man went back and I saw the two of them talking through the glass window where you could see the pastry chefs at work.
Then he came outand saw me waiting for him, (possibly jumping up and down a little because Icouldn’t help myself). He smiled and I smiled. I didn’t expect a long conversation but we ended up talking for a good five minutes about chocolate.
I told him how much I loved his flavor profiles of his truffles and how his chocolate is art. He told me he was a fan of Star Wars, hence Yoda, and has spent over 20,000 hours of his life working with chocolate. A fact I can believe, especially after he told me how much work he does without chocolate equipmentsuch as a tempering machine. Everything they do comes out of that small kitchen including chocolate that he supplies toWhole Foods and the Gansevoort Hotels.
We also talked about how he recently worked with Valrhona chocolates to make a coveture that is specifically for his chocolates and also how he stays so thin (he says henever takes his work home with him). Wetalked about some of his future projects which are in the works, and I can’twait to see how things develop for this talented chocolatier in the future.
After we talkedand I came down from cloud nine I drank my coffee and thought about what just happened. I think people who are good atwhat they do like to know that someone out there is a fan of their work. I’m glad that I got a chance to meet him andeven more excited that I have a six piece box of Fika truffles waiting for me!