I really did have to emphasize the fact that it’s (unofficially) Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day on this blog because I’m not really all that fond of the official national food holiday. :-\ Today is National Licorice Day, those shiny, black candy ropes you find in old time candy stores. It’s flavored with the root of the liquorice plant, giving it a bitter, anise-type flavor to them. They’re definitely an acquired taste, as many people prefer candies to be sweeter than the flavor licorice vines provide. Interesting fact: licorice vines don’t become that dark, almost-black brown color because of the flavor; instead, it’s molasses that gives it its dark coloring, as well as a depth of sweetness mere sugar wouldn’t provide. Also, if you buy a packet of Twizzlers for this food holiday and call it a day, you’re technically cheating: while Twizzlers and Red Vines are known popularly as red licorice, they can’t be officially called licorice candies because they don’t contain the extract of the liquorice root. And I thought I could get away with this, too! 😛
But if you really are a fan of that unique licorice flavor, then today is definitely your day in the sun. And there’s no better place to chomp down on some licorice vines than Myzel Chocolates on 6th Avenue. Although “chocolates” is right there in the name, Myzel Chocolates is best known for being the premier purveyor in New York City of the world’s best varieties of licorice. They boast over one hundred varieties and brands, mostly from Europe, in all shapes, sizes, and flavor combinations (did you know the Dutch prefer their licorice to be on the salty side?) Owner Kamila Myzel is a self-proclaimed licorice connoisseur, and she’ll gladly help you choose which one of her many varities is the perfect licorice fit for you, even handing out free samples to make sure it’s the best. I may not be rushing down there at this point in time, but if I ever get a huge hankering for triple-salted Dutch licorice, I definitely know where to go!
140 W 55th St (between 7th Ave & Avenue Of The Americas)
“We have 60 different licorices. I bring them from Europe, mostly from Holland. I’m a connoisseur of licorice. … It’s good for the digestion. I have high-ranking military officers who buy salty licorice because it cuts the appetite so they can keep their fine figure.”–The New York Times
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“On a random hunt for licorice today, I found this place via Yelp and was ASTONISHED by how awesome it was. Right around the corner from my work office, it’s so easy to miss if you don’t look for it. Inside it smells absolutely divine! I could stay there forever. I usually hate licorice, so I didn’t even know where in the “100+ kinds” to start, so I asked the owner (who is the sweetest old lady) to give me an assortment. She told me to make sure to look at the shape of the licorice before I ate it, so I could remember which ones I liked when I came back for more. And man, she’s right–I’ll be back soon! This is the most delicious -actual- licorice candy I’ve ever had! None of that sugary Twizzlers crap. I couldn’t stop eating it for hours before I finally had to hide them away so I could nibble on some tomorrow.”–Jenny W.
“! I have never seen so much licorice in one place in my life…I didn’t even realize that licorice came in double salted or triple salted varieties — it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you look at all the options. They’re very helpful in narrowing down their selection for you and giving you little samples so you can make up your mind — I was especially fond of an Italian orange-tarragon licorice… yum.”–Joanna F.
But if a connoisseur of rare European licorices isn’t your style, then you might just need to see the king…of Corona, that is. The Lemon Ice King of Corona doesn’t just make his famous ices in lemon flavor. Unlike the ubiquitous Ralph’s, the Lemon Ice King is a local Corona staple in the warmer months, and is best known for their unique flavors, like peanut butter, canteloupe, and…you guessed it, spicy licorice. It’s the perfect way to cool off on a balmy April day, with a sweet, cold treat that isn’t too sweet so you feel like you haven’t cooled off at all. You can also buy his flavors by the quart, so try the single-serving of the famous licorice and if it tickles your fancy, buy the whole caboodle–and maybe pick up a few vines from Myzels to dunk into the ice 😉
The Lemon Ice King of Corona
52-02 108th St, Corona
“They’ve been making Italian-style ices from fruit and other fresh ingredients since the 1940s, and continue to offer intensely flavored and authentic ones, something like what the original immigrants made to resemble the granitas of home. In addition to the essential lemon ice, the shop is known for a peanut-speckled peanut butter, a spicy licorice, sweet cantaloupe, and up to 40 other flavors, all containing proof of their origins—smashed bits of seeds, leaves, nuts and crushed berries.”–New York Magazine
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“The Lemon Ice King is a fun place to go on a hot summer day. They have an extensive menu of Italian ices which includes the usual flavors as well as more unique ones such as vanilla chocolate chip, licorice and tutti frutti.”–Stephanie V.
“This place is addictive! Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter I crave the great tasting Ice’s made here. Obviously summer is the best time of year to ultimately enjoy Italian Ice, but it’s a good thing they are open all year round. I’d recommend flavors peanut butter, licorice, blueberry, rainbow, lemon, raspberry, grape, apple, cotton candy… a few I order regularly.”–Nic D.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!