In celebration of iconic chocolatier George Cadbury’s birthday this month, here are 10 chocolatey experiences not to be missed.
Whether it’s planning a decadent adventure around the chocolatiers, cafés and restaurants of a favourite foodie destination, booking a stay in a chocolate-themed hotel or stepping out of your dark, milk and white comfort zone to try something completely new … there’s a little something here to whet your appetite.
Make your own chocolate elephants at Pod Bali Chocolate Factory (balichoklat.com) – after you enjoy a tour of the factory, sniff roasted cacao beans, learn about tempering and enjoy a tasting session. For some unique flavours, Pod Bali also incorporates local ingredients like cinnamon, rosella flowers, banana and cloves in their chocolates, all made with locally-grown cacao, of course.
GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies to Bali. Book your seats now at airasia.com
NEW YORK, US
Check out Candytopia (candytopia.com), which opened in New York in August and runs till mid-November. The brainchild of TLC’s Candy Queen Jackie Sorkin, it features candy and chocolate interpretations of famous artworks. Keep an eye out also for avant-garde Singaporean pastry chef Janice Wong, who pops up around the globe with her sweet edible installations. She just launched her own fragrant chocolate crayons that you can either draw with, or eat! They come in a lovely rainbow of colours and flavours like dulce de leche, green mango, passion fruit and ‘smoked’. Plus, there’s a silicone holder, so they don’t melt.
For those who thought they’d exhausted all their options with milk, dark and white, chocolate maker Barry Callebaut introduced a fourth kind in late 2017. Ruby chocolate has sweet-sour berry nuances, and is naturally pink as it is made from ruby cacao beans. In early 2018, Nestlé teamed up with Callebaut to release the first international ruby chocolate for consumers: limited edition Ruby KitKats.
CHIANG MAI & PATTAYA, THAILAND
Cacao Plantation Tours
The majority of Thai cacao is grown in Chumphon in the south, and Chiang Mai, in the north. In the latter, check out MarkRin Chocolate (cocoathailandcenter.com), a family-led cooperative and the first to grow cacao in Chiang Mai. For an immersive guided tour of a cacao plantation, visit Discovery Garden in Pattaya (discovery-garden.net), which grows and ferments cacao, and makes its own chocolate. Visit its Chocolate Academy, at scheduled times, for a bean to bar experience.
GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies to Chiang Mai and Pattaya. Book your seats now at airasia.com
Cafés and chocolatiers in this chic city have a real appreciation for cacao. Drop by Mork Chocolate Brew House (morkchocolate.com.au) for speciality hot chocolate in winter or iced chocolate in the hot months (all made with ethically-sourced chocolate). Order their signature Campfire Chocolate and you’ll get a maple smoke-filled Bordeaux glass, a beaker of 70 per cent dark chocolate, charcoal salt and a toasted, house-made marshmallow. Another must-visit is plush Mamor Chocolates mamorchocolates.com, the setting for a decadent 7 Sins of Chocolate High Tea featuring handmade petits fours, and French pattisier Gontran Cherrier’s chocolate éclair, which is to die for.
GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies from Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne. Book your seats now at airasia.com
Hot Chocolate Onsen
The onsen (hot spring) experience is a must when visiting Japan, but Hakone Kowakien Yunessun (yunessun.com), a hot spring theme park in Kanagawa Prefecture, takes the exotic experience a step further. All year round, you can immerse yourself in baths of brewed coffee, green tea, sake or red wine, but the best time to visit is between February 14 and March 31, when the outdoor onsens ready a chocolate spa – soothing and aromatic.
For a truly chocolaty experience, opt to stay in a property that shows reverence for the sweet confection. Top picks include Nihi Sumba (nihi.com) in Indonesia, which has its own chocolate factory (run by a guy named Charly!) and cocoa-themed spa treatments; and the Chocolate Boutique Hotel thechocolateboutiquehotel.co.uk in Bournemouth, England, which offers chocolate classes and the option of a mini chocolate fountain in your room! If you’d like a creative culinary experience thrown in too, book a room at Boucan by Hotel Chocolat in St. Lucia (hotelchocolat.com), where almost every dish at its restaurant features cacao! The boutique hotel surrounded by cacao trees also runs chocolate tours and chocolate-making sessions.
HOKKAIDO & OSAKA, JAPAN
Chocolate Factory Fun
The first chocolate factory and museum in an airport, the Royce Chocolate Museum and Factory (royce.com) is in Hokkaido’s New Chitose Airport; the glassed-in production line allows visitors to observe how their chocolates are made. In Osaka, the Meiji Chocolate Factory (meiji.com), which looks like a giant chocolate bar, offers tours at set times every day.
GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies from Kuala Lumpur to Hokkaido and Osaka. Book your seats now at airasia.com