World Chocolate Day: 10 best cities for chocolate lovers - Hindustan Times
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World Chocolate Day: 10 best cities for chocolate lovers

By, New Delhi
Jul 07, 2024 01:55 PM IST

From Bruges to Paris to Oaxaca, Cologne and Le Fortuna, on World Chocolate Day, let’s stroll through the world’s best cities for chocolate lovers.

Xocolātl (xoco = bitter, all = water). Bitter Water. That’s what ‘chocolate’ meant in the Classical Nahuatl (Aztec) language. It is not a misnomer; in its earliest avatar, cocoa powder was served as a bitter liquid until the Europeans stumbled upon it, added sugar to cocoa and turned it into what we now know as chocolate. (Also Read | World Chocolate Day 2024: 5 irresistible chocolate dessert recipes to satisfy your sweet tooth)

Here are the world’s best cities for chocolate lovers.
Here are the world’s best cities for chocolate lovers.

Though beset by complex economic, social, and environmental problems, including poverty, child labor, and deforestation, cocoa & chocolate production is globally a $162 billion industry (2023).

On World Chocolate Day, let’s stroll through the world’s best chocolate cities and pick the best chocolates in town.

Brussels (Belgium)

Today, Brussels is full of chocolate shops, renowned chocolate makers, great classics, artisan craftsmen and rising stars. (Pexels)
Today, Brussels is full of chocolate shops, renowned chocolate makers, great classics, artisan craftsmen and rising stars. (Pexels)

Chocolate arrived in Belgium as early as the 17th century but it wasn’t until the 19th century that chocolate became easily available. Pharmacist Jean Neuhaus claims the credit for the first Belgian chocolate. And the praline was born in 1912. In order to protect the pralines, his wife created a carton box, just like a jewellery box, and called it the ‘ballotin’. Nearly 112 years later, a ballotin of chocolate pralines is still the favourite gift from Brussels, Today, Brussels is full of chocolate shops, renowned chocolate makers, great classics, artisan craftsmen and rising stars.

Best chocolate stores: Neuhaus, Wittamer, Pierre Marcolini, Laurent Gerbaud, Artisan Chocolatier Mary, Frederic Blondeel

Best chocolates in town: Godiva, Neuhaus, Mary, Côte d’Or

Paris (France)

It was a gift to the 14-year old King Louis XIII from his 14-year old wife to be – Anne of Austria. That’s how chocolate came to France - placed in a chest as a gift of great value. In those days, chocolate was expensive, exotic and considered an aphrodisiac and almost a recreational drug. In the early days, it was taken in liquid form - the cocoa bean paste mixed with water or milk and added flavourings like chilli, all spice, cloves and vanilla.

Best chocolate stores: Pierre Herme, Patrick Roger, La Maison du Chocolat, Debauve & Gallais, Pierre Marcolini, Do not miss the Gourmet Chocolate Museum

Best chocolates in town: Chapon, Valrhona, François Pralus, Michel Cluizel

Turin (Italy)

History tells us that in 1560 Duke Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy served hot cocoa to celebrate the transfer of the Ducal Capital from Chambéry to Turin. From the creation of the Bicerin in the 18th century, a drink made of coffee, cocoa, and milk cream, to the pioneering of solid chocolate bars and the variety of chocolates, Turin keeps reinventing its chocolate tradition.

Best chocolate stores: Caffarel, Guido Gobino Turin, Venchi, Peyrano, Giordano

Best chocolates in town: Giandujotto, Tartufo al Cioccolato, Cremino, Cioccolatini al Liquore, Nocciolati

Vienna (Austria)

No one leaves Vienna without taking bite of the Sachertorte. (Pexels)
No one leaves Vienna without taking bite of the Sachertorte. (Pexels)

Vienna’s tradition for fine chocolate can be traced back to the Habsburg Empire when artisan chocolates became a desirable luxury in the Austrian capital. In the middle of the 18th century the Imperial Court spent about the same sum on chocolate as on beer. In 1832, 16-year old apprentice chef Franz Sacher created Sachertorte, a cake so sweet, so extra, and so full of chocolate. And now no one leaves Vienna without taking bite of the Sachertorte.

Best chocolate stores: Xocolat Manufaktur, Schoko Company, Bonbons Neubaugasse, Lindt, Heindi. Join Xocolatl Manufaktur in Vienna’s central first district for a chocolate-making workshop.

Best chocolates in town: Ildefonso, Casali, Ritter Sport, Heidi, Milka.

Bruges (Belgium)

Often referred to as the Chocolate Capital of the Flanders region, Bruges has more than 50 passionate chocolatiers and acts as a genuine chocolate laboratory. To know all things chocolate in Bruges, head to Choco Story, a museum located two minutes away from the city’s main square.

Best chocolate stores: Dumon Chocolatier, The Chocolate Line, Chocoladehuisje, Pralinette, The Old Chocolate House

Best chocolates in town: Jeff de Bruges, Dominique Persoone’s chocolate (he once created a chocolate sniffer for The Rolling Stones)

Zurich (Switzerland)

Zurich has been a city of chocolate since 1845, the year, the Sprüngli family founded the first chocolate factory in German-speaking Switzerland. But it was Rodolphe Lindt who revolutionised chocolate production with his invention of the conching machine in Berne in 1879. In 1899, the two men laid the foundations of Lindt & Sprüngli and the fondant chocolate was born. Do not miss the Lindt Home of Chocolate Museum.

Best chocolate stores: Sprüngli, Teuscher, Läderach, Honold, Max

Best chocolates in town: Teuscher Dark Chocolate, Läderach Grand Cru Noir, Lindt Extra Dark Chocolate Lindor Truffles, Bachmann’s vegan chocolates

Oaxaca (Mexico)

In 1502, the first shipment of cocoa arrived in Europe from Oaxaca. In Oaxaca’s Mixtec region, cocoa drinking symbolises unity and community at milestone social occasions, such as births, weddings and funerals. And in some places, cacao is also given as dowry.

Best chocolate stores: ,La Auténtica, La Chocolateria Mayordomo, De Todos los Santos, Xhuladii Chocolates, Rito

Best chocolate drinks in town: Chocolateatole, Tejate, Atole de chocolate (champurrado), Tascalate, Popo

Cologne (Germany)

The Chocolate Museum Cologne is the best place to know all about chocolate in the city. (Pexels)
The Chocolate Museum Cologne is the best place to know all about chocolate in the city. (Pexels)

In 1828, a Dutch chemist discovered a way to make powdered chocolate by removing some of its fat content and his product came to be known as Dutch cocoa. This resulted in the creation of the first chocolate bar in Europe. The Chocolate Museum Cologne is the best place to know all about chocolate in the city.

Best chocolate stores: Café Reichard, Fassbender, Lindt Boutique, Hernando Cortez, Peters Pralinen

Best chocolates in town: Ritter Sport, Moser Roth, Mercy, Hachez, Niederegger

Hershey (USA)

We all know of Hershey’s Kisses but Hershey is actually an unincorporated town in Pennsylvania founded in 1903 by candy magnate Milton Hershey to house his eponymous chocolate factory. Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, in its brown-and-silver wrapper, was perhaps the best-known American candy bar of the 20th century. Today, Hershey also has a theme park, a zoo, several golf courses.

Best chocolate stores: Hershey’s Chocolate World, Hershey Museum Shop, Reese HB Candy, The Chocolatier

Best chocolates in town: Hershey’s Kisses, Reese’s, Kit Kat, PayDay, Cadbury’s

La Fortuna (Costa Rica)

So precious was cacao for the Aztecs and Mayans living in the Le Fortuna area that they used it as currency. One could buy a slave for a few hundred beans! Perhaps the only way to learn the history of Costa Rican chocolate is to book a Chocolate Tour.

Best chocolate Tours: North Fields Cafe Tour, Rainforest Tour, Eden Chocolate Tour, Sloths observation plus coffee-chocolate-sugar cane experience, Don Olive Chocolate Tour

Best chocolates in town: Samaritan Xocolata, Rio Sierpe, ChocoPrisma

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