February 14th brings to mind candlelit dinners for two, red roses, cards displaying heartfelt acclamations, lovingly selected pieces of jewelry, and luscious, melt in your mouth chocolate delights. For me, Valentine‚Äôs Day gives me the perfect excuse to indulge in fine chocolate, and if I‚Äôm not coupled up for this jour de l’amour (day of love), I‚Äôll gift myself with a few pieces of a cocoa satiated sweet. Europe boasts some of the world‚Äôs most divine selections of chocolate indulgences. Read on to discover a few of my top choices.
A prime romantic destination for lovebirds, Paris has an incredible assortment of chocolatiers (chocolate artisans). Christian Constant is the owner of one such shop (of the same name) that should not be missed. He is located on 37 rue d‚ÄôAssas and has acquired a number of awards for his confectionary masterpieces. Feast your taste buds on a raspberry ganache or Constant‚Äôs legendary palet d’or (a fresh cream based, delectable chocolate).
Gelato may, at first glance, have an appearance similar to ice cream, but once you take a spoonful of this rich, velvety Italian specialty, you will know otherwise. It is made in small batches and is renowned for having a soft and creamy consistency. Ice cream has a higher butterfat content ratio, too. Perhaps one of the best gelateries in Rome is Giolitti. The original creamery site from 1900 can be found near the Pantheon on via Uffici del Vicario, 40. Only the freshest ingredients are blended together in creating their gelato, and there are absolutely no preservatives added when preparing any of their 70 flavors. Treat yourself to two scoops of heaven, one serving of chocolate and the other of black cherry.
Neuhaus is a well known name amongst Belgians and is notorious as being the inventor of the Belgium Praline. This legendary chocolate immerged from an unlikely source, an apothecary. Jean Neuhaus opened his trade in 1857 after he had moved to Brussels from Switzerland. At first, he sold just a small variety of sweets. However, in 1912 his grandson (Jean II) was given the freedom to branch out on the business‚Äô candy production and from this venture, the praline was invented. His creation was a success, and soon after this development, the pharmaceutical side of the business was discontinued. A praline is a combination of nuts and chocolate, the family secret recipe is absolute bonbon perfection. Today are over 1000 shops dispersed throughout Europe. The Neuhaus‚Äô brand offers several chocolate and nut variations of their praline.
Swiss Champagne Truffles
Teuscher(both the family and shop name) is the creator of the luxurious Dom Perignon infused chocolate truffle. The company was founded in 1932 by Dolf Teuscher, Sr. in Z√ºrich, Switzerland. They now have stores scattered across North America, Asia, and Europe, but if you happen to be in Z√ºrich, visit their main location on Bahnhofstrasse 46. Dolf Teuscher, Jr. is the predecessor in charge of present business operations. If I could select any sweet that my heart desired for Valentine‚Äôs Day, the Champagne Truffle would be my number one choice, hands down.
I bought some candy from a vending machine to munch on before I began typing this entry because I thought it would bring me creative writing inspiration. As I popped each multi-color, hard-shelled chocolate piece in my mouth, all I could think about was that what I was eating could not even begin to compare to the choco-goodies listed above. A trip to Europe this spring may be exactly what I need, especially if the chocolate I buy myself for February 14th fails to impress. In preparation for this likely disappointment, I‚Äôll begin searching for flights to Paris and Zurich right way.¬† Imagine savoring a champagne truffle with the Swiss Alps in the backdrop, can anything top that?