When we were growing up, having a piece of chocolate meant heading to the store for a Hershey bar or bag of kisses. Chocolate has certainly evolved over the past couple of decades, with new brands of luxury chocolate popping up everywhere you turn.
Chocolate is not just candy. Chocolate is an art form of its own. No two pieces are alike, thank goodness. Chocolatiers around the globe take great pride in their culinary creations, each using cocoa and ingredients from their native regions. If you really want to sample some of the world’s finest chocolates, you may just have to tour some of the world’s best chocolate shops!
Chocolat Michel Cluizel – New York
Chocolat Michel Cluizel is a satellite store based off of a famous Paris shop. This particular store is the only chocolate shop with a liquor license, meaning you have a few extra “adult” flavors to choose from, including cognac, tequila, and champagne. Unlike many other chocolate shops, the packaging here is far from gender-biased, making it a great gift for anyone on your shopping list no matter what time of year.
Recchiuti Confections – San Francisco
Located in the Ferry Building in San Francisco, Recchuiti Confections is one of the finest chocolate shops on the West Coast. The shop features chocolates designed by owner Michael Recchuiti, as well as those designed by local artists. Looking for something spectacular and new? Try a piece of fruit that has been sliced paper thin, soaked in key lime juice, dried out, and dipped in dark chocolate – it’s a sinful treat worth revisiting over and over again!
Jean-Paul Hevin – Paris
If you have a few extra dollars to spend you might consider a trip to Jean-Paul Hevin in one of the most upscale sections of the Paris shopping district. Tarts, pastries, fruit ganache, and chocolate lollipops are only a few of the delightful treats Hevin has to offer. Those with extra time to spare won’t regret stopping for lunch in his fabulous tearoom.
Pierre Marcolini – Brussels
Walk into the Place du Grand Sablon in Brussles and you’ll feel more like you walked into a high-end department store than a chocolate shop. The folks in Brussels take the art of chocolate making very seriously – as well they should. Do not leave Pierre Marcolini’s shop without at least tasting his divine chocolate ice cream and make sure you pick up at least a few chocolate bars to go.
In Switzerland you’ll stumble upon Sprungli, a chocolate lover’s favorite for almost 150 years now. The most wonderful chocolate treats held within their wood cases are the truffles, both mild and dark. The second floor houses a restaurant where you can relax, enjoy a delicious meal, and perhaps have a little more chocolate for desert.
Chocolaterie du Rhone – Geneva
Chocolaterie du Rhone has been around for over 125 years, making it an old favorite as well. This incredible chocolate shop features more than 50 different types of chocolate and more than 12 different truffle flavors on any given day. Make sure you try the Mocca glace – a tiny piece of chocolate that is loved by patrons but about which the owner will reveal nothing. We don’t mind secrets as long as we can have the chocolate.
Cacao Sampaka – Barcelona
There are three hot chocolate shops in Barcelona, but Cacao Sampaka is the most highly recommended, hands down. It is here that you’ll find smooth creamy chocolate with a modern twist. The flavors are blended with spices you might not normally expect to find in a bar of chocolate, but they are exquisite nonetheless. France and Switzerland may be well known for their chocolate creations, but the folks in Barcelona will certainly give them a run for their money.
Le Chocolat de H – Japan
Chocolatiers usually stay away from Japan, but the rapidly spreading chocolate craze has made chocolate lovers out of the Japanese population as well. Master chocolatier Hironobu Tsujiguchi has put a special twist on the creation of chocolate, including special ingredients such as sea salt in his mix. Try a macaroon or a dark chocolate truffle. Wash it down with a cup of green tea and you’ll be surprised at the unusual yet pleasant flavor combinations.
Jacques Torres Chocolate Haven – New York
We literally felt like children the moment we stepped into Jacques Torres Chocolate Haven. There’s something special about a chocolate shop that looks like a cross between an upscale boutique and Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Think fine French chocolates designed to cater to what many consider America’s unique taste buds and you might have an inkling of how different this shop really is. Looking to try something really spectacular? Check out the spicy hot chocolate – yum!
Chocolate lovers from around the world know just how important it is to find the perfect piece of chocolate. While we’re willing to make do with a grocery-store chocolate bar on any regular day, we’re not opposed to a special treat every now and then. Even if it means making a special trip to indulge!