National Chocolate Day (November), International Chocolate Day (September) and UK Chocolate Week (October) are amongst many celebrations that enable consumers worldwide to express their sheer love of chocolate and dive guilt-free into yet another bar!
That same adoration is perhaps best demonstrated at Brussels Airport, the world’s biggest chocolate outlet, where 1.5kg of chocolate is sold every single minute. The Belgian Chocolate House, located in the departure hall, offers tempting selections from the biggest names in the country’s trade - Neuhaus, Godiva, Leonidas, Corné Port-Royal and Marcolini, not to mention Galler, Dandoy, Destrooper, Starbrook and Guylian. Little wonder they sell two tonnes of chocolate per day and more than 800 tonnes a year.
But devotees of the movie ‘Chocolat’ often want more than just an outlet or an online cart. Seeking out the most exquisite, renowned, quirky and award-winning chocolate shops is often a must for many travellers. In fact, visiting an actual, atmospheric and artisan chocolate shop is often a truly uplifting experience, with some being ‘visitor attractions’ in their own unique way.
For this reason, Europesure Travel Insurance has a few suggestions of chocolate shops worldwide, which might be worth putting on to your itinerary.
Whilst there are now six Mary chocolate shops in Brussels, heading to the address in Rue Royale is probably going to provide the most authentic experience, when it comes to the Mary story. Here, Mary Delluc opened her first shop in 1919, with her art deco tea salon quickly gaining popularity with lovers of chocolate bonbons. The street was visited frequently by the king, so ideally placed to attract the eye.
Doing just that became an artform for the chocolatier and her secret recipe pralines. Her exquisite chocolate boxes and lavishly decorated windows, as well as chocolates often wrapped in solid or printed silk, were soon the talk of the city.
Today, the shop proudly boasts that it has been a Belgian Royal Warrant holder since 1947. It now blends tradition with modernity, retaining its beautiful and historic chocolate boxes, in which you will find delights such as pralines, caramels, langues de chat, truffles, Napolitains and truffles. When you visit the Mary shop, you quickly understand why CNN called it one of the fifteen world’s happiest places.
Puccini Bomboni, Amsterdam
Puccini Bomboni has two addresses in Amsterdam, one at Staalstraat 17 and the other at Singel 184. Should you be visiting Utrecht, you will also find one of their chocolate shops at Lijnmarkt 36.
The brand’s aim is to deliver a unique experience in each and every Puccini chocolate sold. Life for the chocolate business began in 1987, when founder Ans van Soelen and her daughter Sabine van Weldam, opened a cake shop at the Staalstraat address. At that time, five original Puccini Bomboni chocolate creations were also on the menu. Eight years later, they – and the chocolate experience – were the main focus.
The chocolatier has always shied away from creating something that already exists, so its flavours range from Amaretto to anise, pepper to poppy seed and tea to thyme. In its recipes, traditional butter and sugar is replaced by a cleaner cream. When it comes to presentation, the team beautifully craft surprising shapes and deliver unanticipated aesthetic touches. It is said that there are 20 stages through which a chocolate passes at Puccini Bomboni, before it is ready for the customer.
Attention to detail is everything, whether that is benefiting a dark chocolate filled with limoncello flavoured ganache with a slight liquorice accent and topped with a white chocolate streak, or one filled with port wine and dipped in mini milk chocolate drops.
SOMA opened its doors in 2003 and owners, David Castellan and Cynthia Leung, now have two stores in Toronto, plus a small factory. The delightful modern and contemporary chocolate shops can be found in the Distillery District and King St West, in the old textile warehouse district.
In both, a range of great cacao bean delights can be enjoyed, but King St West’s shop is “truffle central”, from where 26 varieties of truffle are handmade and where a production kitchen tests out all kinds of new recipe. Meanwhile, at the Distillery District shop, there is an open concept chocolate making factory with lovingly restored vintage gear. Here, you can watch the cocoa nibs being turned into chocolate.
Using chocolate from beans harvested from many parts of Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean, Vietnam and Uganda, the chocolatiers thrill customers with their scrumptious truffles but also with quirky creations, such as chocolate canoes, chocolate salami and decadent Apricot Supernovas. The latter, perfect for hanging on the Christmas tree, comprise a brandy-soaked apricot, orbited by a ‘starburst’ of chocolate. This is described as roasted pistachios intermingled with a luscious base of gianduja and ‘smooshed’ together until buttery.
Getting travel insurance for holiday experience
We hope these suggestions have made the mouth water and inspired you to perhaps seek out a renowned chocolate shop to visit, wherever you are travelling. Should you wish to visit Mary or Puccini Bomboni, you can get all-important travel insurance on either a single trip or annual multi-trip basis. Should the chocolate be so delicious that you just have to make a return trip, the latter will be every handy and your best buy!
The same options apply, should you wish to visit Canada and head to SOMA. In that case, however, you will need to buy worldwide travel insurance, which covers Canada and the USA. That takes into account the extremely high medical insurance costs in these countries, which you would incur, should you fall ill or be injured.
Head to www.europesuretravelinsurance.com to buy your policy and tailor cover to your needs. After that, just enjoy your flight or road trip and stock up on all the chocolate treats you can fit into your luggage!
Image courtesy of Igor Leyfor on Unsplash