The aroma of slow-simmering caramel and chocolate wafts through Hoffman’s Chocolate’s Greenacres headquarters. To demystify its origins, the shop’s chocolatiers have outfitted their kitchen with observation windows, granting customers the chance to admire their delicate handiwork and holiday helper subcontractors. They meticulously lace European truffles with chocolate drizzles, and dunk cherries and pretzels in milk and dark chocolate. This devotion to small batches of handmade treats extends back to the 1970s, when founder Paul Hoffman began peddling treats out of his small Lake Worth chocolate shop. Over the decades, chocolatiers have expanded the bakery’s repertoire to include whimsical confections such as enormous fortune cookies and seasonal treats.
The hookah's natural habitat is not a nightclub with crashing music and empty drinks slamming against tables. The hookah experience, according to Kimm Smith of Hookah House, should be unrushed and mellow. "It's very meditative," she says, "and should be shared with people you care about." This was the atmosphere in which co-owner Zo spent his childhood in Algeria, where people would spend long hours gathering with friends and families in hookah lounges. He and his Bostonian wife, Michelle, wanted to bring that aspect of Algerian culture to the United States, both to spread a feeling of community and as an homage to the marriage of their distinct backgrounds.
As the fruit-tinged smoke of shisha rises from between murmuring visitors, it passes rich fabrics, which drape the exposed-brick walls, and bright lanterns dangling from a marigold ceiling. Stories seem to overflow from the furniture and textiles, gathered during the couple’s travels in Algeria or preserved from Zo's former life as a sommelier in Paris. This is where patrons linger, resting shoeless feet on bright cushions and pillows as they converse or check email on the free wireless internet. Atop inlaid tables, servers place Turkish coffee, house blends of Moroccan tea, and small plates of Mediterranean-inspired dishes.
On some weekend evenings, live jazz stirs guests to twist among tendrils of smoke before a DJ steps up to spin a range of music, from Earth, Wind & Fire to Jimi Hendrix. Belly dancers, with bells and scarves for all to borrow, demonstrate to patrons how to pass lie-detector tests with just their hips. A psychic-in-residence reads coffee grounds most nights, translating the earthy onyx shapes into predictions about the drinker's future.
In 1947, Don Kilwin struck upon the perfect method for making candies and chocolates?and when you discover perfection, you don't abandon it. That's why almost 70 years later, the chefs at their dozens and dozens of locations across the country still use old-fashioned copper kettles, marble slabs, and Howdy Doody puppets. And guests can see the proof of that: the glass-walled kitchens afford a clear view of the delectable goings-on as the dreamweavers conjure cashew brittle, caramel apples, fudge, and 40 flavors of ice cream. A steaming mug of coffee, hot chocolate, or cider pairs perfectly with these sweet treats.
"Tips are bigger on the inside," reads the sign on Common Grounds Coffee Bar's tip jar, a wink at the sci-fi stalwart Doctor Who and a glimpse into the shop's sense of humor and friendly atmosphere. The coffeeshop pours brews from Rabbit Coffee, blends up fruit smoothies, and prepares bagels and other food.
Aromas of roasted garlic and basil waft from the warm ovens at Cafe Centro as chefs prepare a menu of Northern Italian seafood specialties. Beneath the dining area's rustic timber ceiling, servers deliver plates of fettuccine crowned with lobster and brandy cream sauce or fillets of grilled salmon, yellowtail snapper, and branzino. Other dishes include crusty calzones with soft, melting interiors and housemade desserts such as tiramisu. Wrought-iron chandeliers cast a warm glow over racks of bottles filled with fine wines and rolled parchment notes from the pirate who lives in the cellar.
The family-friendly, annual Festival of Chocolate packs the Palm Beach County Convention Center with delectable cocoa creations, classes, and demonstrations November 19 and 20. Vendor booths display baked and molded treats, where sweet teeth can sink into cupcakes and brownies, break through truffles, and bathe in creamy beverages. Award-winning pastry chefs demonstrate baking techniques and sculpt large, intricate, opulent dessert structures to lure attendees with the ambrosial scents of chocolate mastery and the enjoyably gooey texture of chocolate malleability. Tykes can wander through the Kids-4-Chocolate creative workshop area to make sugary crafts or write novels about the eternal struggle for candy, or attend a chocolate museum that educates on history and production methods. Throughout the festival, experts battle in the Chocolate Indulgence competition, awarding winners in six different categories. The festival maintains its own currency, the chocolate-chip coin, which is worth $1 and can be traded in for goodies generally costing $1–$5 apiece and is legal tender for all debts public and private.