Century 21 Yields Surprisingly Delicious Finds

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The giant discount store offers up more than just inexpensive designer duds

By Laura Shanahan

It looks like a very pretty, if extremely compact, version of a hatbox. But nestled within this sherbet-color-striped box wrapped up with a satin grosgrain ribbon is ? a drum-roll, please, to heighten the shock of the big reveal ? 12 luscious Godiva Ice Cream Parlor Truffles.

Included for your delectation is the Pistachio model, which combines (gird yourself for another shock) pistachio and white chocolate ganache enrobed in pistachio-bit-topped white chocolate. The Lemon Sorbet weds white chocolate ganache with lemon in a white chocolate shell. Pecan Caramel Sundae and Neapolitan are among the other tempting truffle concoctions in the selection.

What would you expect to pay for all this ganache-y goodness? Its sticker says its value is $30, but since today we are at the vaunted discount department store Century 21, you need only pay "our price" of $17.97. (And I didn't buy a box of this because why? Oh, right ? once more ? I am an idiot.)

Truth be told, I've barely given C21 a thought since we discussed its debut on the corner of Broadway and 66th Street in 2011. The reasons are manifold: First, I think I harbored a resentment that it took over our beloved Barnes and Noble. Whoever thought we'd think of a chain store as beloved? But that particular location was, being not just another bookstore with a café, but a favorite meeting place for friends en route to Lincoln Center events. And also ? let's face it ? a convenient, pleasant and hassle-free place to duck in from the cold.

Too, perhaps like some of you, I'm not wedded to designer labels (not only that, I'm totally and blindly in love with the giganto H and M in the nearby Time Warner Center. Have you bought the $12.95 ballet flats I told you about yet? Most comfortable shoes ever ? $12.95 per pair ? I've got 'em in 7 colors!).

In fact, I was on my way to H and M, but as I passed C21, I decided to let bygones be bygones (though I'm heartily unhappy that C21 was reported to be among the many stores caught up in the faux fur-real fur labeling controversy. I'm hoping you also read the excellent Q and A in this newspaper with Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, who is introducing legislation to increase fines for violating the proper-labeling law she passed in 2007. Bless you, Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal!)

Sooooo?.in NON-fur news, here's what I found notable in-store. Well, first the Godiva chocolates, available in various boxes and bars and packaging scattered throughout. A nice little pick-me-up for just $2.97 ("value $5") is the 3.5-oz. package of the brand's chocolate-covered caramel Gems.

Speaking of gems, lower-case this time, among the charmingly whimsical, but always ladylike, Kate Spade handbags and carryalls, is the black-patent skinny-strapped big tote imprinted with a sprinkling of faceted gemstones ? a real show-stopper for $79.97 ("value $148").

Standouts for men include Polo Jeans Company's soft-like-"buttah" cotton-blend two-button-placket polos, complete with the RL "flag" embroidered logo, in a rainbow of hues, including the unexpected pumpkin; $21.97 ("value $44.50").

And speaking of jeans, popular kid-size Joe's Jeans in a choice of washes, in skinny and relaxed fits, are $32.97 ("value $59").

And for parents shopping with their kids, may I paraphrase that famous quote by saying while liquor is quicker, candy is still dandy (no wonder the Godiva is strategically places throughout the store).

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