It is Valentine’s Day! (Singles, this is where we groan…) Despite the obligatory mushy feelings that are to accompany this day, it also is one of the biggest days for one of my favorite things…CHOCOLATE!!! I am a firm believer that you don’t need to be in a relationship to send or receive V-Day gifts nowadays. I would suggest that when buying the gift of chocolate for someone, you steer clear of the cheap, last-minute gas station or drug store boxes, and get a little creative. How about a chocolate tour?
Valerie Beck, creator of Chicago Chocolate Tours, discovered all the great chocolate shops around Chicago and wanted to share them with friends. Eventually, she expanded her tours to the public, offering “guided walking and tasting tours to select chocolate shops, bakeries, and cafes, where guests sample, learn, and enjoy.” Facts about the history and health benefits of chocolate are provided by their excellent tour guides (shout out to Guide Sarah!), as shop owners and managers greet the groups and share their own stories while offering samples of the specialties at each stop.
Several locations are offered for the tours, including The Magnificent Mile / Gold Coast, Lakeview, and Downtown / Loop. I was lucky enough to take the The Magnificent Mile / Gold Coast tour, which included Teuscher Chocolates, More Cupcakes, Hendrickx Belgian Bread Crafters, Sarah’s Pastries and Candies – Oak Street, and Argo - Gold Coast. It did not disappoint. Teuscher Chocolates was the first stop, and probably my favorite. They are know for their authentic Swiss boxes, and best of all, their Champagne Truffles. Another top contender was Hendrickx Belgian Bread Crafters, who invited us right inside their back bakery to sample their Belgium White Chocolate Loaf. That’s right, bread with chocolate in it! The hint of orange added a refreshing twist.
Looking to make this tour even more romantic? The team at Chicago Chocolate Tours has a few additional suggestions here. While public tours start at $40, I recommend bringing some extra cash, as you will have plenty of time to make purchases at each shop. The best part about giving a tour as a gift? The chocolate may disappear fast, but the memories last a lifetime.