This Explains a Lot

 

Literally. Here is the history of Swiss chocolate in a nutshell – or would that be a cocoa pod??

Ever wondered how a country without a single homegrown cocoa bean become one of the world’s leading chocolate manufacturers? The pioneers of Switzerland’s ‘Chocolate Revolution’, from the good people at SwissInfo, is a concise history of the Swiss chocolate industry. You’ll recognise some of the names in the story; they are still associated with tasty treats today.

For those of you lucky enough to live in or be traveling to Switzerland, there’s also a link to a list of chocolate factories to visit.

En Guete!

 

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Safety Sweet Spots

I am sure I won’t live in Switzerland forever, and since I may very well return to the US some day, it is nice to know I will be able to indulge ever so nicely there.

Culture Trip’s new piece on America’s artisanal chocolate makers spurred this train of thought, and I went on to find a few more sources in a Vogue article on healthy artisanal chocolate. With TCHO in San Francisco and Fine & Raw in Brooklyn, I should be covered coast to coast!

chocolate secletcion

A sampling of the chocolate that happened to be in my cupboard today

Travel Fears

We are days away from embarking on the trip of a lifetime.  It’s time to assess my major fears about this trip and my plans to deal with them.

Crossing the Drake Passage, reputed to be some of the roughest open water on the planet. Ugh. I don’t do boats. But I am willing to do this one because I want to see Antarctica. So I am fully loaded with drugs to handle the seasickness of life on board and, I hope, the roughest the seas can throw at me. (‘Cause otherwise, I’ll be throwing it right back at them…)

Next, having enough to read. This was a major quandary. But I recently learned that our ship contains the largest floating library in Antarctica and has both non-fiction, which I assumed, and fiction, which I wasn’t sure about. So now I am fairly confident that the four books I have packed will be enough for the off-ship travel portion of our almost-month-long trip.

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Will all the books in the library published by Penguin?

 

Taking these two biggies off the table leaves me with just one final concern: Will there be enough chocolate on board?

Photo Credit: Flickr Photo by Antartica Bound used under CC License

Our Lady of Chocolate

Notre Dame in chocolateParis’ Montmartre neighborhood, as I am no doubt not the first person to discover, is a wonderful place to wander. Full of cafes and shops of all kinds, it seems to me to be quintessential Paris, an area where people actually live rather than one that tourists occupy. I loved peering into the shops, both essential and quirky, that lined the road up to Sacré-Cœur.

There were even enough patisseries and chocolate shops to keep even the most afflicted chocoholic content. (Those, of course, fall into the “essential” category.) Chocolatier Maison Georges Larnicol fell into the quirky category as well. Along with its many treats and specialities, it featured exquisite chocolate sculptures, including a replica of Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris.

A Room Full of Chocolate

My daughter and I ventured down to Zurich last weekend for the Salon du Chocolate. I hadn’t heard of it but once a friend alerted me to its existence, and knowing it was just an hour away, how could I resist? The pull of chocolate was just too strong.

I suppose as exhibitions and conferences go, this was a relatively small one, but there was plenty to see – and taste – during our time there. There were booths from some two dozen boutique chocolatiers, most of which I’d never heard of and some I will now never forget. Yum!

My favorite taste of the day was a very dark chocolate from Suteria. We also enjoyed the Swiss Moments collection from Nobile Cioccolato. This is a sampler that uses a variety of typically Swiss ingredients, including hay! Like fresh cheeses where you can really smell and taste the grass, this treat brought you out to the meadow.

We spent a good amount time chatting with a representative from CBI, an EU organization that helps companies in developing countries find European markets for their products. Of course, cocoa is a perfect example and several growers from Central America were there with them.

Le Salon du Chocolate is a world-wide event. While I am still living in Europe, I shall just have to get myself to the editions in Paris, or Brussels, or Lyon….