Despite the heat and humidity, I decided to take a stroll down Main Street this past Sunday to visit the new venue at 462 Main Street, Håkan, that I recently learned about in the latest issue of the Highlands Current. Who can pass up chocolate, even on a day when you expect that it will not only melt in your mouth, but in your hands, as well.
My curiosity was increased with the knowledge that the chocolatier, Håkan Mårtensson, is Swedish. Not quite Norwegian. But with my favorite chocolates named Kong Haakon by Freia, a well-known Norwegian confectioner that is headquartered in Oslo, and no SAS flights scheduled for me to head to the Land of the Midnight Sun, I knew this was the next best thing. And my visit did not disappoint my expectations.
The cool, dark ambience of the store mimics a Scandinavian vibe as soon as you walk in. The friendly and hospitable atmosphere of the proprietors standing behind the bonbon bar was palpable. I was able to joke with Håkan and talked about asking him if he were the King (referring to a Norwegian king from the past)! When I asked about bolle (I had one very specific one in mind), he pointed to the array of fine pastries behind him that are also baked and available for purchase onsite in order to provide an explosion of flavors from the north that are usually marked by the distinct flavoring of cardamom. Despite my banter and my bilingual comments (yes, I even tried out some Norwegian), I encountered genuine hygge and warmth.
|Håkan Mårtensson (L), and business partner Steven Pipes (R)|
It was difficult to decide on my choices as I scanned the glass case enclosing the delectables looking like fine jewels. I finally selected three bonbons -- the Salted Caramel, the Pear and Madagascar Vanilla (marblized in the shape of a blue heart), and the Tamarind and Cardamom (marblized in red in classic bonbon style ). I resisted loading up on the packaged bars of chocolate (for now) but will keep them in mind when I want to buy gifts and surprise treats for friends. I also noted that there were small packages of Salted Caramels ready to go; they had an appeal for a dessert table or for the sweet note accompanying wine and cheese for a small intimate gathering (now that vaccinations facilitate home entertaining to resume.)
I resisted opening my little cellophane bag until I got home and started to brew a cup of ginger tea; I thought that would be an interesting pairing. Before the tea was ready, I started with the Salted Caramel, proceeded to the Pear and then finished with the Tamarind. Heavenly would describe the experience! From the first bite into the crust of the Salted Caramel with its oozing filling to the tart taste of tamarind with the finish of cardamom, my favorite spice, I could not have been more pleased. My ginger tea only made me long for some more bonbons to taste. (Or at least one bolle on display that looked so delicious and ready for a cup of tea.)
What else can I say other than "Jeg ønsker deg mye suksess i Beacon, Håkan!" and "Congratulations" (Gratulerer) to your business partners Steven Pipes and Bobby Chani as well. I will surely be back for more bonbons and boller just so I can say "takk for sist!" I believe I've met my new King of Chocolates!! Takk skal du ha!
Food for thought: This is my tenth year of blogging Beacon Bits: A Bite of the Hudson Valley, about community life in Beacon. But this is the first post where I felt that I was 'home' in my corner of the world because a touch of Scandinavia has arrived! Other than when Norwegian Airlines was flying direct flights from Stewart Airport to Bergen, Norway and I dreamed of a Beacon-Bergen connection as sister cities, I feel connected to my roots on both sides of the Atlantic; from the Norwegian-American community where I was raised in Brooklyn to immigrants, to the North Sea and beyond. I can't wait for a celebration for Midsummer's Night in late June and Santa Lucia in December with delectable delights of saffron buns and exceptional bonbons!