Sunday, December 16, 2007

The sweet spot

Open wide for homemade truffles.

A stroll through the Essex Street Market has always been a sensory experience: Colorful cans of coconut milk and hearts of palm at Batista, pungent plumes from Formaggio and Saxelby Cheesemongers, and lively chatter of different tongues from the shopkeepers and locals. Now, a new hook exists at #24: the rich scent of homemade truffles.

Though Rhonda (Roni Sue) Kave just opened this eponymous shop, it was a long time coming. After 20 years of making buttercrunch (her signature treat) and bon bons for friends and family, she finally succumbed to the idea of going professional.

Kave fills each truffle with either dense Callebaut ganache or handmade perzipan, a lighter, fluffier version of marzipan (the ganache centers rule). Flavors are both straightforward and unusual, with fruits dominating: pomegranate, raspberry, mango and banana truffles fill the display case. But there are options for those whose palates favor spicy, savory or nutty. The popular Frida truffle, for instance, combines Mexican cinnamon, espresso and Kahlua, and the Zydeco is a medley of chili jams and confits, infused tequila and sea salt. Each truffle is then delicately topped with a sliver of whatever lies inside.

It will be nice to see what new flavors she whips up as the seasons change and the business ramps up. On standby, I am.

120 Essex Street (#24 Essex Street Market)