Saturday, June 11, 2011

Chocolate can turn any sour day sweet

What can we possibly do to prevent the doldrums of winter weather in June? Not much...the sharp winds, cold drizzle and occasional mosoon storms are difficult to get over and yet I managed to have a very enjoyable few hours today, most of which was in fact spent walking around outdoors. The Boston Chocolate Walking Tours, hosted by the Taste of Chocolate, is one of many activities offered by this organisation that guessed it, all things chocolate.
I have been trying to get myself to one of these tours since the middle of April. I am very glad I persevered because the tour is a great way to incorporate local gems, delicious treats and new company all in one.

Chocolate Walking Tours are offered in many different locations around Boston and Cambridge. I went on the Faneuil Hall/North End tour and we started at the Godiva by Quincy Market. It was a strong start!

The fifteen chocolateurs (a large group for such a yucky day!) were greeted and ushered upstairs to a secluded chocolate room.  Here we were given goodie bags with chocolate surprises and coupons as well as an introduction to what lay ahead. This was high quality and intimiate: a great way to begin.

Our next stop catered more to the tourist types as we went across the street to Cheers to try their Boston Cream Pie. I must be honest and say that this was the tour's weak point, I think we could all have done without the boisterous and chaotic atmosphere of the restaurant, particularly as the dessert itself was not great and the chocolate component was a poor rendition, it was most likely Hershey's or some imitation thereof.

Luckily, the next stop, Wagamama (another unlikely chocolate stop), proved much more successful.  Here we were taken to the downstairs area and each given a taste of their delectable five layer chocolate fudge cake.  My qualms were silenced with my first bite of this perfectly rich and moist chocolate cake, the fudge frosting was divine. We were also handed little chocolate chip cookies from the Boston Chipyard at this point and that won me over as I am a huge fan of the little guys.

After a brief lesson on the making of chocolate which I always find interesting, we were taken into the North End, right up to Mike's pastries where we were met with chocolate filled cannoli. I do love cannolis, and have never actually tried the chocolate filling. It was a tasty stop on our tour...albeit a bit chaotic as is customary when dealing with Mike's.

Around a few corners we came to Lulu's, a very pink and pretty cupcake shop. 
Don't be misguided however, the treats served up here are rich, real and to be contended with! I had been completely oblivious to this little whole in the wall, and am very glad it is now on my radar!


The final stop was at Maria's, a pastry shop right on the outer rim of the North End. Here we tried two different homemade chocolate treats. A Chocolate Torrone, which is a chocolate, honey and almond log, and Totos, all-spiced chocolate cookies with chocolate frosting.. Both were great, although we did not get much more out of this stop, it would have been nice to meet Maria, but apparently we had just missed her...too bad:(
All in all, the tour is a great way to spend a bleak Saturday afternoon. It would have been equally enjoyable on a beautiful day however in this area, that would have meant for busier streets.
I would love to try out the other tours around the city, but would recommend this one, particularly to those who are looking for a fun and tasty way to see this part of the city. My only reservation is that it becomes a bit difficult to circulate information to everyone, particularly in areas of high traffic in Quincy Market and on Hanover St.
I would like to just sign off with a big thank you to our guide, Miriam, she was really great and her interest in chocolate was contagious:)

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