No matter where you grew up or what is your age, each one of us always welcomes a bite of yummy chocolate bar. But how far can you go for the love of chocolates? Can you buy an air ticket and hop on to a plane right away? Well, on the Chocolate Day, join us on a whistle-stop tour of chocolates around the world.
The Swiss Chocolate Train
The famous Swiss chocolates, of course! For Indians, Switzerland not only is the favourite holiday destination in Europe, but is also the best place to buy chocolates. This country is home of top chocolate brands like Toblerone, Cailler-Nestle, Lindt, Treuscher and Sprungli. The country not just produces the best chocolates, but also consumes more chocolate per person than any other country in the world.
Zurich is the heart of chocolate production in the country and Lindt, Treuscher and Sprungli all have factories and stores in the city. For a truly unique experience, the Swiss Travel System, along with Cailler-Nestle, offers an excursion on ‘The Swiss Chocolate Train’.The train departs from Montreux and makes a stop in Gruyeres (where Gruyere cheese is made) before finally arriving in Broc (Swiss village) where guests get a tour of the Cailler-Nestle factory. See how the famed chocolate is produced, then treat your senses with a generous sampling in the factory's tasting room. If that’s not enough, visit the Grand Hotel Bad Ragaz in Geneva to enjoy a feast for the skin in the form of a body pack of chocolate mousse.
Belgium – the Chocolate capital of the world
Belgium is considered as the chocolate capital of the world boasting of 12 chocolate factories, 16 chocolate museums and more than 2,100 chocolate stores. A truly chocoholic’s paradise, isn’t it? Brussels, the capital of Belgium is home to two of the biggest chocolate companies in the world – Godiva and Leonidas, as well as many smaller chocolate boutiques.
If you visit Brussels, make sure you go to the Musee du Cocao et du Chocolate where you can learn how chocolate is made. Grand Sablon, a small square in the heart of the city, houses some of the best- it is home to Wittamer, Pierre Marcolini, Neuhaus, Godiva, Leonidas and Zaabar. No trip to Brussels would be complete without a visit to Mary, which was founded in 1919 and has been a favourite of the Belgian Royal Family since 1942.
Spanish chocolate cities
This ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Doobara’ famed country is now a dream destination for every young Indian traveller. But did you know Spain also offers some of the best chocolate experiences apart from adventure, nature and festivals. Barcelona, one of the popular cities in Spain is the centre for chocolate lovers since three decades.
Among its chocolate-covered achievements, the city can boast that the first chocolate making machine was built there in 1780. Today Barcelona celebrates its rich chocolate heritage with a museum dedicated to chocolate, the Museo de La Xocolata, which features everything from chocolate sculptures to hot chocolate.
When in Spain, do visit Barcelona for the love of chocolates but don’t miss out on Villajoyosa, often tagged as the ‘chocolate city’. Villajoyosa also boasts an excellent chocolate museum that not only showcases the history of Villajoyosa’s chocolate production but also how local favourites are made.
Giant chocolate fountain of Germany
Not just popular for its black-forest cake and Oktoberfest beer festival, Germany is also famed for some delicious chocolates. Cologne, the chocolate capital of Germany is home to Stollwerck Chocolate Company. To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the company, a museum exhibit was created to celebrate their history. Since then, the exhibition has grown into an entire museum today.
So, next time you are visiting the Deutschland, do visit the Imhoff Stollwerch museum, locally known as the chocolate museum which celebrates the history of chocolate around the world. It also has interactive exhibits, samples and a giant chocolate fountain. While the museum does produce chocolate, it does so purely for demonstation purposes, the product of which can be sampled at the café or bought at the chocolate shop. You can buy the chocolate from stores like La Maison du Chocolate, Tortchen Tortchen, Weibler Confectionery, Demnitz Chocolaterie, Mama Chocolate or even Leonidas Chocolates.
French chocolate connection
After the popular Bollywood flick ‘Queen’, France has indeed made to the list of ‘must-visit’ for most of the Indian travellers. Popular for its wine and romantic Eiffel Tower, the country is also famed for mouth-watering chocolates. A small town in the heart of wine country, Tain L’Hermitage is the home of the world renowned chocolate producer – Valrhona.
A short drive from Lyon, the town houses a school – Valrhona Ecole du Grand Chocolat, that teaches professional chefs, chocolatiers and caterers. The school also host a three-day course that teaches amateurs how to make decadent deserts. So, do take this course to become a popular chocolate chef back home!
Hershey – the sweetest place on Earth
Moving from Europe to now US, dubbed as ‘the sweetest place of Earth’, the town (originally called Derry Church) was renamed Hershey in 1906 due to the popularity of Hershey chocolates. This town is home to both The Hershey Company and the H.B.Resse Candy Company. ‘Chocolatetown, USA’ has branded itself as an American chocolate centre and some popular chocolatey attractions include Hershey’s Chocolate World, The Hershey Story Museum and the Chocolate Spa. Other great places in this town to get your chocolate fix are Café Zooka and the Cocoa Beanery. You can also try the Iberian Lounge for some chocolate cocktails.
New York City
New York also features some of the best scrumptious chocolate treats. Besides all of the fantastic chocolate shops in the city, you can also take a chocolate tour with either the New Cuisine Chocolate Tour or the Luxury Chocolate Tour, where you can learn about the history of the shops you visit and also sample some of their chocolates.
While there are many worthwhile chocolate shops in New York City, some of the best include Chocolate Bar, MarieBelle, Li-Lac and Richart Design et Chocolat. However the best of the best is Jacques Torres Chocolate, with favourites like his famous champagne truffles, rich hot chocolate, chocolate-cloaked almonds and pain au chocolat (chocolate pastry).
Dream of Californication
California - the bay area of San Francisco is home to one of the oldest chocolate manufacturers in the United States, making it a destination for many chocolate lovers. As in New York, chocolate tours are a great way to take in San Francisco’s best chocolate shops. You can also step back in history wandering through Ghirardelli Square, which was originally built as an expansion of the old Ghirardelli chocolate factory.
Apart from the Ghirardelli, Scherffen Berger was the first company in America to completely create their chocolate from bean to bar and they offer free tours of their factory six times a day. Other shops worth checking out include Michael Recchiuti, XOX Truffle, Richart San Francisco, Cocoa Bella, TCHO, Coco-Luxe and Christopher Elbow Artisinal Chocolates.
Above are the top countries to get your fix of chocolate cravings. However, did you know there are few countries that eat chocolate flavoured bugs? Slimy, scary, ‘the size of a Buick’; we associate lot of adjectives to describe bugs, but ‘yummy’ isn’t usually one of them. Few countries like Thailand, Ghana, Mexico, China, Brazil, Australia, Japan, Netherlands and even USA have jumped on the bug bandwagon to try the chcolatey bugs. If you are adventurous enough, you can also try some during your next visit to any of these countries!