2 Reasons February is Amazing: Hot Chocolate Festival & National Pancake Month

Even though it's so far been kind of a fake winter here in the big town (which, by the way, we'll gladly take over last year's epic frozen slog of a season), there are still plenty of reasons to get excited over two of our favorite cold-weather New York City February festivals, both starting tomorrow, both guaranteed to satisfy your wintertime desires for welcoming warmth and sweet treats made with love. We go every year, as often as we possibly can, to the Hot Chocolate Festival at the great City Bakery, and the National Pancake Month celebration at the also-great Clinton Street Baking Company, if only because it gives us an excuse to introduce friends and share (for the hundredth time) with loved ones what we consider to be NYC's best hot chocolate, and NYC's best pancakes, respectively. 

City Bakery NYC Brings Back Hot Chocolate Festival in February 2012

FIRST: the Hot Chocolate Festival at City Bakery NYC. If you've never had the hot chocolate here, a primer: this is unbelievably rich, insanely thick and sludgy stuff, exploding with honestly earned real cocoa flavor. We always add one of City Bakery's sweet and gooey house-made marshmallows, and we suggest you do the same (we also always add one of their salty, crunchy, flaky, buttery, AMAZING Pretzel Croissants on the side… but then, we tend to go bit overboard). Anyway, every day for the City Bakery Hot Chocolate Festival 2012 there's a different special flavor in addition to the regular-that's-anything-but. This year's City Bakery NYC Menu for the Hot Chocolate festival has some old favorites (Caramel Hot Chocolate on the 12th; Love Potion Hot Chocolate on, when else, the 14th; Banana Peel Hot Chocolate on the 26th) as well as plenty we haven't yet sampled, starting with the intriguing Super Bowl Hot Chocolate (Big Blue(berry)-colored? Pigskin-flavored?) next Sunday, and also including On a Peanut Butter Barge Hot Chocolate (the 18th), and Espresso Hot Chocolate (the 27th).

Lower East Side Clinton Street Baking Company Celebrates Pancake Month 2012

SECOND: the Clinton Street Baking Company's Pancake Month celebration at their mega-popular (especially for brunch) Lower East Side spot. Every two or three days all February long superstar owners Neil Kleinberg and Dede Lahman will serve up one of eight different pancake flavors, available all day and well into the night. The pancakes themselves are excellent here at the Clinton Street bakery–just the exact right combination of crispy, cakey, and fluffy–but add on the special toppings and you have a treat you won't soon forget. We'll be there for the Japanese pumpkin pancake with pumpkin seed streusel and warm maple butter (the 10th through the 13th); the ones with the crunchy bananas and cinnamon-chili-chocolate sauce (the 1st and 2nd, the 20th to the 22nd); and the stack filled with chocolate chunks, fresh raspberries, and topped raspberry-caramel sauce (the 27th through the 29th). You can see the full schedule of special Clinton Street Baking Company Pancake Month flavors here.

The bonus? Leap Year gives us all an extra day for both the Hot Chocolate Festival and Pancake Month!  Festivals in February are especially delicious here in NYC, and we are looking forward to enjoying both of these all month long!

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