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The Warmth of Hot Chocolate
Memories of a Cafe Oasis
Some years ago, I finally found my small quiet oasis in the city. I was walking down Market Street after work one afternoon, camera slung on my neck doing street photography when I saw a sign that said “Vegan Hot Chocolate.” My mouth salivated. Hands down, hot chocolate is my all-time favorite beverage and I haven’t had a cup in years since transitioning to a whole foods plant-based diet.
I didn’t even think twice.
I got off Market Street and turned right as the sign instructed. I passed a water fountain and an open plaza where office workers gathered, some sat alone engrossed in their phones. I crossed Jessie Street and tucked away cornering Ecker Street was New Tree Cafe. The high ceiling bedecked with a bamboo matrix installation made the cafe spacious despite its tiny square footage. Various chocolate bars with eclectic combinations of fruit, nuts, and spices filled the walls. Menu offerings included mostly vegan selections of sandwiches, salads, bowls, pastries, coffee, and other beverages. New Tree is primarily a chocolatier based in Belgium and the cafe doubled as their retail store.
I approached the young lady at the registrar. On the counter slightly to her left was the hot chocolate dispenser. I happily ordered a large cup which roughly cost $5. I thanked her as she opened the dispenser and filled an eco-friendly corrugated cup. “Here you go,” she said as she slid the cup in front of me, faint steam still rising from the top.
I walked outside and placed my drink on the green round table to the left of the entrance. I plopped my backpack next to it and stashed my camera inside my backpack. I sat down on another chair and smelled the hot chocolate before taking a sip. The rich velvety liquid warmed my tongue and traveled down my throat leaving hints of nutmeg, cinnamon, and other unfamiliar spices in my mouth. It was heavenly! I closed my eyes to savor the moment. All my worries faded. I held the cup to warm my hands as I stared at the empty street and the bare tables and chairs at Yank Sing restaurant across from the cafe. I was deliberately taking smaller sips to prolong my treat and feeling blissful from accidentally stumbling upon this quiet obscure place.
A few years later, I moved to a new job located two blocks away from the cafe. I was always tempted to buy a cup every day but resisted the urge. The whopping sugar and fat contents were unhealthy even if the hot chocolate drink was vegan. Instead, I reserved my visits only on bad days when I needed a“pick me up” treat.
I am thinking of that hot chocolate drink as I’m sitting here in bed typing on my laptop. Foot traffic never returned to its former levels after the lockdowns which forced the cafe to close permanently. I’m glad to have this memory and this one photo.
How about you, dear ones?
What is your favorite beverage and how do you like it prepared?
Do you remember a place you stumbled upon and eventually became your go-to spot?
As always, let’s meet each other in the comments section below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
See you all next Sunday!