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40 THE QUEENS COURIER • VALENTINE’S DAY • FEBRUARY 9, 2017 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM COME CELEBRATE Please make your reservations early Enjoy a night filled with elegance and fine dining with that special someone PRIVATE BANQUET FACILITIES UP TO 100 PERSONS Luncheons Mon.-Fri. 12pm-3pm Homemade Traditional Italian Specialties Mon.-Thurs. 5pm-10pm Fri. & Sat. 5pm-11pm Open Sundays 3pm-9:30pm

FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM FEBRUARY 9, 2017 • VALENTINE’S DAY • THE QUEENS COURIER 41 valentine’s day Photos by Anthony Giudice/QNS Rubi Kalpaxis is one half of the husband-and-wife team making their own handmade chocolate in their Ridgewood shop. These Ridgewood shop owners are serious about making their own chocolate BY ANTHONY GIUDICE @A_GiudiceReport If you are looking for unique, handmade artisan chocolate, look no further than Ridgewood Chocolate, a small local business nestled in an unassuming store front on Catalpa Avenue, where the chocolate is crafted right on site. Husband-and-wife duo Constantine and Rubi Kalpaxis opened their shop on Catalpa Avenue two years ago, but have been a mainstay in Ridgewood for decades. Constantine previously owned the American Houseware shop formerly on Fresh Pond Road, and continues to sell home goods at the shop. This time, however, there’s one big difference: he has begun making dark chocolate with his wife in the back of the store. The Kalpaxises started crafting chocolate when Rubi wanted to make some hot cocoa, but was not satisfied with the quality of the packaged chocolate, so she decided to give it a try. “The whole setup is here. Half of the store is devoted to making chocolate,” Constantine said. “We do everything, with the exception of the roasting of the beans, which we still do at home because [Rubi] likes to experiment with different roasting of the beans.” The couple have quickly become experts in everything chocolate, from the selection of cocoa beans they use, to the time frame they have once the bean is roasted, and the flavoring and packaging of the treats once they are finished. “The beans can stay like that for 100 years, but the moment you roast them, now there is a time frame before they go bad,” Constantine said, referring to a large bag of cocoa beans in the shop. “It’s usually — we figured it out — three or four weeks. In that time you have the optimal aroma, taste and smell. We control the roasting to the processing to the end result so we can guarantee to the customer that at any time they purchase this stuff, it’s at its optimal range of aroma and taste.” Constantine and Rubi have created some interesting and exotic flavors of dark chocolate with only two ingredients: cacao and sugar. Some of the flavors they sell include roasted garlic, bacon, peppercorn, pistachio and cashews. Another unique feature implemented by the couple is that all of their chocolate has the roasted date on the label rather than an expiration date, so customers know how long ago the beans were roasted. That way, they can eat their sweets at the height of the chocolate’s flavors. “Our philosophy is that we’re here on this Earth for a purpose; why not do something good? But if we’re running a store, we should add something to the customer/proprietor relationship,” Constantine said. “We try to share our knowledge with the customer. By doing that, you’re adding value to that relationship, and also for yourself. And if you can add something positive to that customer experience, that is what we want to do.” For more information about Ridgewood Chocolate, visit their shop at 60-02 Catalpa Ave., find them on Facebook at Beans2bar, their Instagram @roastedon, or at their website ‘Cabaret’ at Secret Theatre A VIEW FROM THE CLIFF BY CLIFF KASDEN Once again, the Secret Theatre’s intimate performance area provides the perfect setting for the powerful, classic musical “Cabaret.” As yards and yards of tinsel hang from the rafters, the musicians play from their seats placed right inside the audience. Soon, uninhibited performers strut and sing with unrelenting joy. What a show! The time is the 1930s; the place is Berlin. The characters are swept up in the maelstrom of political and personal confusion of that decade. The play itself remains one of the finest examples of individual rebellion in confrontation with group conformity. Yes, delivered in all its paradoxical glory. That being said, this version is clearly not for children. Adults though, should enjoy the ride as it plows headlong into the harsh realities of that era. The music of course, is unforgettable. Co-directors Hunter Bird, Chloe Treat with executive producer Richard Mazda and producer Stephanie Wilson have gleaned some extraordinary talents from the abundant harvest of New York professionals. They proceed to sparkle and shine as the script demands. Poignant performances by Sue Lynn Yu and Mark Coffin stand in stark contrast to bold interpretations by Larry Owens as the uninhibited emcee, Natalie Walker as unconventional cabaret star, Sally Bowles, and Jesse Weil as Cliff the vulnerable American author. Each emerges with unexpectedly intense and shining moments. Bravo! The exuberant gals and guys at the Kit Kat Club live up to the title song’s lyrics: “What good is sitting alone in your room, come hear the music play. Life is a cabaret… Come to the cabaret!” The bawdy, beautiful players include Ninoshka De Leon Gill, Danielle Mendoza, Rafaela Raposo, Shoshanna Richman, Sarah Treanor, Vinny Celeiro, Parker Drown, Jeff Hathcoat, Russell Peck, Trevor Salter and Alexa Poller. The energy never dissipates from opening curtain to final bows. The venue’s small size is always challenging. Nevertheless, the troupe consistently rises to the challenge. Kudos to Antonio Consuegra (costume design), Ben Danielson (stage manager), Christopher and Justin Swader (scenic design), Dan Garmon (musical director), Krystal Wilson, Michael J. Tosto, Paul T. Kennedy and Reiko Yanagi. Clearly this musical classic is worth the trip. Visit the troupe at 44-02 23rd St. in Long Island City (near the “el”). For this and future productions, surf to, call 718- 392-0722 or “like” them on Facebook. As always, save me a seat on the aisle.

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