World's Most Decadent Chocolate Tours
Need a unique date idea? Try a chocolate factory tour and tasting.
Christine Rondaeu via Flickr Creative Commons 2.0
Once upon a time, 2 brothers from Iowa began making chocolate — literally from bean to bar — in their Brooklyn, NY, apartment, perfecting each piece with an artisanal touch and wrapping them with handmade "butcher paper." Within 5 short years, their enterprise, Mast Brothers Chocolate, began receiving copious accolades, including best new American chocolate from Food & Wine magazine.
Today, Mast Brothers has set up headquarters in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood, where it offers tours of the factory daily. Visitors are taken on a journey through the entire chocolate-making process, allowing them to watch the creation of unusual varieties such as sea salt and chili pepper. As the tour comes to a close, guests enjoy a tasting of 5 chocolates so they can discover how different beans yield different but mind-bogglingly delicious flavors.
Everjean; via Flickr Creative Commons 2.0
Belgian chocolates are indisputably among the world's finest, and Brussels is among Europe's most interesting capitals. Why not explore both city and chocolate in 1 brilliant tour? Join the Brussels Chocolate Walking Tour and Workshop to see and learn about many of the city's highlights, including the Grand Place, the Manneken Pis statue, the comic strip route and the city gates.
Brussels' history and culture is then coupled with an extraordinary tour of many of the city's finest chocolatiers, including Godiva, Wittamer, Neuhaus and Pierre Ledent, where you'll get to sample some of the delectable wares. The 4-hour tour and workshop is capped off with a hands-on chocolate-praline-making workshop. Guests will learn how to make these lovely treats and even get to take home their own creations.
Sebastiaan ter Burg via Flickr Creative Commons SA 2.0
While in Silicon Valley, CA, make like the smart set and take an uber-educational and wildly thorough tour of the Tcho Chocolate factory. The setting feels a lot like a science lab — and that's a good thing. Tcho was founded by a former NASA scientist and funded by some of the people who started Wired magazine.
Still, the Tcho tour isn't all brains and no fun. The free, hour-long journey is led by well-informed and amusing guides who are intent on educating you in all matters chocolate and sustainability, including how the company's artisanal chocolates are crafted and the ins and outs of fair trade; even guided tastings are offered. (The factory recently relocated to Berkeley, CA, and tours are expected to resume soon. Check the website for more information.)
Perugina via Flickr Creative Commons 2.0
For nearly 100 years, Perugina has been churning out everyone's favorite Italian chocolate treat, Baci, which translates to "kisses." Double the pleasure of your visit to Perugina's headquarters in Perugia, Italy, by combining a factory tour with a class at its chocolate school. Each Baci chocolate is wrapped, or hugged, by a little love note, typically a brief quote about the magic of love and affection.
Plan a visit to the Casa del Cioccolato ("House of Chocolate"), and begin your tour at the Perugina Museum, where you'll discover the history of the acclaimed chocolate-maker, as well as tokens of the Baci brand over the past century, followed by a chocolate tasting. After the museum, you'll enjoy a tour of the factory, looking into the chocolate workshop and production line. Finally, partake in a class at the Perugina Chocolate School, where you'll learn how to work with chocolate and even create your own treats. Reservations for the popular tours are recommended.
Nestle; via Flickr Creative Commons NC SA 2.0
Many chocolate lovers consider Switzerland to be the home of the world's finest chocolatiers, and indeed, many of the greats are located within this stunning country. Plan to explore one of Switzerland's oldest and most admired brands of chocolate with a tour of Maison Cailler, where milk chocolate is said to have originated.
At Cailler, located in Broc, Switzerland, visitors can tour the factory and learn about the chocolate-making process in a very hands-on fashion, actually holding the freshly roasted cocoa beans, smelling the product as it's being produced, and, of course, eating some of the delicacies. In addition to tours, Cailler also offers a series of chocolate-making classes, led by a Cailler chocolatier. Students will make their very own chocolates in classes on pralines, truffles and even Valentine's Day chocolate hearts.