Today is World Chocolate Day and we thought it would be fun to team up with Travel Corporation Canada for some chocolaty travel ideas.
With the summer travel season here, we are reminded that vacations are meant to be a time for indulgence. So from the rainforests of Central America to Europe’s mountain towns to a couple of gems in Canada, here are a few sweet chocolate-filled destinations that will leave you drooling.
No talk about chocolate can begin without talking about Switzerland first. It is the home of the world’s finest chocolate after all! Channel your inner Willy Wonka and make a beeline for Maison Cailler – a real-life chocolate factory sans Oompa-Loompas. It’s one of Switzerland’s oldest and most important chocolate factories and a visit here will introduce you to the highest echelons of Swiss chocolate making.
It seems apt that Bariloche in Patagonia is known as the “Switzerland of South America”; while referring to the mountains and its resemblance to a Swiss mountain town, this is one region of Argentina that also has a notable connection to chocolate. They don’t call it Argentina’s chocolate capital for nothing. If you’re planning on making a cocoa-pilgrimage, you’ll want to visit the many chocolate museums that dot what Argentines call “The Avenue of Chocolate Dreams” (Mitre Avenue).
If there is one thing Montreal does well, it’s chocolate. If Bariloche is the “chocolate capital of Argentina” then Montréal is the Canadian center of all matters relating to cocoa. Whether you say chocolate or chocolat, la belle ville of Montréal is serious about their love for cocoa. Every February, the city hosts a chocolate trade show that attracts upwards of 12,000 participants over the course of three sweet days. They also boast some of the world’s best chocolatiers with renown French pastry chefs such as Christophe Morel and Roland Del Monte who have both chosen to practice their art in Montréal.
There’s no doubt that chocolate is deeply ingrained in the cultural identity of Turin. Along with Piedmont, Turin embraced chocolate in the 17th century, at which time chocolate houses started appearing and Turin’s answer to hot chocolate was born. Bicerin is a traditional hot drink native to the town, made of espresso, drinking chocolate, and whole milk. The recipe for this delicious sweet and rich elixir has been handed down since the 1700’s and it’s no wonder. It is one of the most addictive hot chocolates (or coffee, depending on how you look at it) you’ll ever indulge in.
HUNTER VALLEY, AUSTRALIA
Just a couple hours north of Sydney lies the picturesque Hunter Valley, the heart of Australian wine country. The Instagram-worthy region isn’t just famous for its wines though. The Hunter Valley also has delectable chocolate! Make sure to visit the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company who specializes in handmade artisanal chocolate and fudge.
Looking for some chocolate indulgence? Look no further than the Hotel Sacher, home to the often-imitated-never-duplicated velvety Sachertorte. This chocolate cake boasts an apricot jam filling and is often served with a dollop of whipped cream and is considered one of the most famous desserts in all of Austria. So famous in fact that there was a spat in the early 1900’s between Hotel Sacher and competing bakery, Konditorei Demel. In what is now commonly referred to as the ‘cake war’, both establishments entered into a lengthy legal fight over whose right it was to own the label of ‘the original Sachertorte’. The decades-long fight ended in 1963 when both parties agreed that Hotel Sacher could use the phrase “The Original Sachertorte” and Demel had the right to decorate its tortes with a triangular seal reading Eduard-Sacher-Torte.
As one of the nations where chocolate has long been a part of the indigenous culture, it’s natural chocolate-lovers would want to explore this side to the gastronomy while they’re here. While cacao is cultivated on plantations in the Amazon rainforest, chocolatiers create the final product in the nation’s towns and cities. In Quito, take a visit to the popular Mariscal Foch plaza which will provide an in-depth cacao tour with three local companies—Republica del Cacao, Pacari, and Kallari—which not only grow their own cacao, but they offer never-heard-of brands for adventurous chocolate connoisseurs.
Long before coffee, Costa Ricans drank chocolate. In fact, cacao has such a long-standing history in this tropical destination that cacao beans were originally used as currency by indigenous tribes in Pre-Columbian times and continued to be a form of currency up until the 1930s. Most of the country’s cacao comes from its Caribbean coast which provides the perfect climatic conditions with plenty of rain.
While Canada’s smallest province may be better known for its lobster, potatoes and mussels, chocolate making is becoming a serious art in PEI. The land of Anne of Green Gables produces some of Canada’s top cocoa-infused items from the potato chocolate cake to, wait for it, chocolate-covered potato chips! Travellers journeying through the Maritimes on CostSaver’s ‘Essence of Eastern Canada with Maritimes’ trip who are looking to find this perfect combo of salty and sweet should make a beeline for Anne of Green Gables Chocolates (100 Queen Street & 15 Milky Way in Charlottetown).
— With Thanks To Winston Ma and The Travel Corporation Canada
— Featured Photograph: Vienna, Austria — Photo Courtesy Hotel Sacher