I'm a freelance artist/writer living in Seattle USA and have been temporarily visiting my home city of Melbourne. Please visit my website at www.annemarieleon.com
Published October 12th 2011
Not surprisingly, 13 of the 15 chocolate tour participants were women. Statistics reveal that cacao has many benefits and women clearly live longer than men. Perhaps their love of chocolate does, in fact ,contribute to women's longevity. Although Tina, the tour guide, refrained from mentioning this interesting fact, she was full of many details about chocolate, from A to Z.
Chocoholic Tours offers chocolate walking tours of the Melbourne CBD on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. There are 8 different chocolate tasting combinations at 20 different venues and also offered are team building events. On this particular Saturday at noon there were several birthday groups celebrating happily with friends and family.
The tour, named the Chocolate Lovers' Walk, is a perfect rainy day activity, as most of the tastings are in the nooks and crannies of delightful Melbourne arcades and lanes which provide adequate shelter. Nevertheless Tina's cheerful command as the group set off was "Follow the brolly!"
Tina was personable, greeting each person individually, giving out chocoholic stickers and making sure that everyone had her phone number, "just in case". The guide appeared to be of European descent speaking expressively with her hands. When the group gathered outside Lindt on Collins St she handed out samples and "show bags".
The tour commenced at Lindt where the group sampled the latest specialty macaroons. There were appreciative "oohs & ahs" as the cooperative students followed instructions to pinch noses, thus gaining maximum taste sensation. Some comments were "decadent" and "deliciously smooth".
They followed the brolly to the next destination, Haigh's, in The Block Arcade. Not only were the participants informed regarding the history of Haigh but also the arcade story. A 10% discount was offered and there was adequate time to make purchases during the leisurely tour. Although Tina is a petite woman she projected well and captivated the audience with her charm and wit as she stood on an historic English scale as a "podium".
At the next venue the group was privileged to meet the Chocolate Tour owner; an admitted chocoholic named Suzy Left). She and Nell Onyshchuk, (not pictured) Managing Director of Chocolate Secret, handed out innovative chocolate combinations with enthusiasm.
The favourite seemed to be a raspberry/merlot gel, layered with a smooth dark chocolate. Another goodie bag with more samples was added to the already plentiful stash of "gifts".
Chocolate Secret is Melbourne's latest sophisticated choccky destination, and is proving popular with those interested in adventurous varieties. The store stocks several novelties, and on this particular AFL grand final weekend, had a selection of chocolate footballs. Hand crafted combinations created from Belgian chocolate and French fruit purées are the true delights at this location.
Following Tina with her brolly, the friendly group strolled up Collins St, to the top end for the grand finale of the tour at Koko Black.
Delicately elegant plates, decorated with dense chocolate cake, nestled on a mound of chocolate mousse were arranged invitingly on a long table in the café. Participants were given drink choices, ranging from chocolate abrogato, to rich hot chocolate and various coffee combinations. Despite the many varied rich palate experiences, the group seemed to have no difficulty imbibing in this last decadent offering. The appreciative applause for the tour guide Tina was unanimous.
Chocoholics, sweet tooths and travelers alike can discover Melbourne's world of chocolate and desserts, and experience hidden charms of the city's streets, lanes and arcades, all in one tour.