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Sweeter Side of Britain

Submitted by on March 1, 2013 – 12:07 pmNo Comment

england_bournemouth_chocolateAs Roald Dahl’s tale of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory hits the stage of the Palladium Theatre in London, England as a musical (with previews starting May 18, 2013), a Road Trips Foodie‘s thoughts naturally turn to all things chocolatey.

suggests that a trip around the country’s tasty assortment of chocolate shops, attractions and festivals will satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth.

Chocolate attractions and exhibitions:

Cadbury World: Experience the sights, smells, tastes and history of one of the world’s best-known chocolate brands, Cadbury, as you embark on a journey from how the humble bean was discovered in the Aztec jungle through to chocolate manufacturing and tasting and into the world’s largest Cadbury Shop. The attraction, in Bourneville – four miles south of Birmingham’s city center – lifts the lid on a world of choccy treats and is perfect for a family fun day out. Stroll to the attraction in 15 minutes from the nearest station – Bourneville station –which you can get to by train from London, via Birmingham, in under two hours.

York’s Chocolate Story: Ever wondered where the humble Kit Kat – found in shops around the world – came from? Head to the city of York in the north of England, where you can see how the chocolates made their way onto our shop shelves. Visitors can find out more about the roots of the chocolate’s founding families and the individual chocolate shops that pepper the city. York’s Chocolate Story is a dedicated museum that reveals the city’s chocolate heritage, and its café features an all-day chocolate breakfast, a selection of ‘choctails’ and an ‘Ultimate Chocolate Fondue’.

M Shed’s Chocolate! Exhibition: M Shed in Bristol, in the west of England, is a museum dedicated to the history of the city and from now until May 6, 2013, features a dedicated chocolate exhibition that delves into the history of confectionery creations in the city over the past 250 years. As well as displaying the last Fry’s Chocolate bar and discovering the original recipes for Turkish Delights and Vanilla chocolates, visitors can find out what it was like to work in a chocolate factory.

Pemberton’s Chocolate Farm: There are chocolate tours at Pemberton’s Chocolate Farm in Carmarthenshire, south-west Wales, just over an hour’s drive from the Welsh capital of Cardiff. Visitors can enjoy a hands-on experience of touching, smelling and tasting the chocolate made here, as well as making their own. There are plenty of added twists; stroll through the narrow streets of Llansiocled, the farm’s village, where you can see how chocolate is crafted; the Chocolate Cinema – that takes you on a journey through the history of the cocoa bean; and the Chocolate Shop, where you can buy chocolate to your heart’s content.

Choccywoccydoodah’s Bar du Chocolat: Tucked around the corner from the Choccywoccydoodah’s shop in the bohemian seaside resort of Brighton – 45 minutes by train from London – is a chocaholic’s dream café. Also known the Choccywoccyboudoir, the Bar du Chocolat invites you to feast in a two-hour chocolate indulgence that incorporates Belgian hot chocolate, chocolate cakes and chocolate dipping pots. Extremely decadent.

Coco Chocolate: Member of the Scottish Organic Producers Association, Coco Chocolate, hosts Chocolate Connoisseur Evenings at its two elegant stores in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh; in Bruntsfield, a 20-minute walk from the main shopping area of Princes Street and in the city centre’s Broughton Street. These indulgent tasting evenings allow visitors to learn the process of chocolate making, find out what chocolate tempering is and learn how to know real chocolate via tasting sessions, which is not so different to wine tasting.

Award-winning chocolate shops:

Paul. A. Young, London: Much lauded in the culinary world for his chocolate creations Paul. A. Young holds a multitude of awards from the Academy of Chocolate and recently scooped ‘Best Sea Salted Caramel in the World’ at the International Chocolate Awards. With three stores in London – in Soho, Islington and the City of London – he’s the only chocolatier in the capital who makes chocolates entirely by hand and uses only natural ingredients. His vision for chocolate is inspirational – last October he created an exclusive line of brownies for London food store Fortnum & Masons including a warming Sichuan flower pepper, stem ginger and chilli version.

Gorvett and Stone, Oxfordshire: Based in the pretty market town of Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire – an easy hour by car or train from London – artisan chocolatiers and past winners at the prestigious Great Taste Awards Gorvett and Stone use only the finest Valrhona chocolate in their unique creations and source the fresh cream for their truffles and ganaches from a local dairy. As well as supplying high-end stores such as Fortnum & Mason’s the chocolatiers demonstrate their sense of fun with creative products such as ‘exploding chocolate frogs’.

William Curley, London: The Scottish-born patissier/chocolatier has been awarded ‘Britain’s Best Chocolatier’ by the Academy of Chocolate four times and his book Couture Chocolate received the Cookery Book of the Year Award 2012 – and it’s easy to see why. His stores in London’s elegant Belgravia neighborhood and upmarket town of Richmond, Surrey, as well as a concession in Harrods, sell gourmet treats such as champagne truffles and Assam tea caramel bars as well as a nostalgic range including coconut bars and peanut nougat bars.

White Rabbit Chocolate Company, Yorkshire Tucked away in a boutique shop in the east Yorkshire town of Beverley – less than an hour’s drive from York – owner of the company, Sally Hawkes, creates artisan, award-winning chocolates using produce from sustainable and fair sources. The quirky company name derives from a local church carving of the Pilgrim Rabbit in Beverley, said to have inspired Lewis Carroll’s White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. Chocolates handmade on the premises include chilli chocolate bars and special chocolate parties can be arranged.

Quirky chocolate experiences – when one bar of chocolate is not enough!

Chocolate Boutique Hotel, Bournemouth: You can eat, sleep and literally breathe chocolate with a stay at this chocolate-themed hotel in the south England coastal resort of Bournemouth, a two-hour journey by car or train from London. Located in the town’s fashionable Soho Quarter the hotel offers 13 chocolate-themed rooms ranging from the Chocolate Truffle Suite to the White Chocolate room. Enjoy chocolate tastings, chocolate shoe workshops, children’s chocolate parties and chocolate-inspired menus.

Chocolate Ecstasy Tours, London: The clue is in the name – tour around some of the best chocolate shops in London with a personal guide or as part of a guided walking group where you’ll taste succulent chocolate and learn fascinating facts about chocolate in the capital. Whether it’s a 2.5 hour-long tour or an all-day chocolate journey each tour stars with a hot chocolate, to prepare your tastebuds for the day ahead.

M&M’s World, London: London’s Leicester Square is home to Europe’s first M&M’s World store and gives chocoholics four floors of chocolate fun. Complementing its comprehensive range of M&M’s chocolates and merchandise is a giant wall of chocolate where you can create your own M&M’s selection from more than 100 choices.

Grab a chocolate martini in London: Satisfy your thirst and your love of chocolate with a chocolate cocktail. Dirty Martinis bar in London’s Covent Garden, for example, can create a chocolate martini from Absolut Vanilla vodka, Frangelico hazelnut liqueur and crème de cacao.

(Photo is from a chocolate workshop at the Chocolate Boutique Hotel, courtesy of VisitBritain)

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