One of life’s greatest pleasures is the taste of really good chocolate. Whether it’s milky and light, or dark and intense, chocolate can make a bad day seem better. If you love both chocolate and travel, these are the places you have to go:
Rococo Flagship Store in London, England
Since 1983, the Rococo store has grown to four locations and created amazing handcrafted chocolates of all kinds. Their products include artisan bars flavored with basil and Persian lime, pink champagne truffles, and chocolate novelties like cigars, eggs, and animal figurines. When you visit the store, you can watch chocolatiers at work, drink hot chocolate, and of course, shop for the perfect gift. Rococo holds itself to five principles, which are taste, quality, experience, originality, and British creativity. The brand even has its own cocoa farm on Grenada, where they produce “Grococo,” an organic Caribbean cocoa.
Maison Cailler in Broc, Switzerland
The Swiss are famous for their chocolate, so no list would be complete without at least one factory. The Maison Cailler can be found in Broc, a western Swiss village. It holds a tour where you get to see the history of chocolate, from its origins with the Aztecs to how the Swiss make their milk chocolate. Best of all, at the end of the tour, you get to sample the chocolates, no limits! For those really interested in the process, you make a reservation at a workshop and learn how to make your own pralines, Valentine hearts, and molded creations.
Mina Street in Oaxaca, Mexico
Also known as the “Chocolate Road,” we can’t pick just one stop in this Mexican city. The full name is “Calle Francisco Javier Mina,” and it’s home to some of the best chocolate-makers in the country. If you’re a fan of hot chocolate, this is definitely the place for you, where it’s as serious as wine. You’ll find unique variations, like “champurrado,” which is made with cocoa and corn. There’s also “tejate,” known as “the drink of the gods.” It was originally served only to royalty. It’s made from roasted cocoa beans, corn, rosita flowers, and mamey seeds, and then thinned with water. Through store windows, you can see roasted beans being ground down, chocolate being poured, and more. The three biggest brands are Mayordomo, Soledad, and Guelaguetza.
Maison Pierre Marcolini in Brussels, Belgium
Pierre Marcolini has chocolate shops all over the world, but if you’re in Belgium, head to the boutique at Sablon in Brussels. Belgian chocolate is famous for its aroma, which is preserved because the chocolate is only cooled at the end of the process. Marcolini chocolate is even more special because he chooses and roasts his own beans. He highlights the origins and creates unique blends for all his products, which include truffles, pralines, ganaches, and more. One of his signatures is the Raspberry Heart, which was created in 2000. It is a dark chocolate ganache blended with the pulp of fresh raspberries and kissed with lemon.
Pacari Chocolate in Quito, Ecuador
Only 5% of the world’s cocoa is considered “Fine Aroma,” and almost 63% of it comes from Ecuador. While relatively new to the chocolate-making scene after decades of exporting, Ecuador has quickly made its mark thanks to brands like Pacari. It also holds the distinction of being the world’s first chocolate company to earn a biodynamic certification. The biodynamic process represents the first of the organic agriculture movements. You can find Pacari’s shop in Quito, where the family makes all kinds of goodies like bars flavored with ingredients like rose, lemongrass, orange, and jasmine, and chocolate-covered fruit. Everything is organic and kosher.
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