Seeing as this week is National Chocolate Week, we're taking it upon ourselves to celebrate with fervor (we've been through a couple of Dairy Milks already!) but we thought we'd also write about some of our favourite chocolate-themed destinations.
If you're a big fan of the sweet treat, you don't have to travel far to indulge in some of the best chocolate the world has to offer - including some pretty weird (but wonderful) creations. From the velvety truffles of Belgium to the nutty delights of Brazil, there are plenty of places to visit if you have a sweet tooth.
Staying at home
If you fancy staying at home this week, you can always visit York. This classic city has a rich chocolate history, especially as it is the birthplace of chocolate-y innovations such as KitKats, Smarties and Terry's Chocolate Orange. You can learn all about these companies and their products at the York Chocolate Story, where you can also witness chocolate-making demonstrations, tasting sessions (the best bit!) and displays about where chocolate comes from. Afterwards, you can enjoy a lovely chocolate afternoon tea.
Birmingham also holds a famous chocolate-themed attraction. Cadbury World is popular with families of all ages and sizes, and is divided into fourteen different zones including an interactive chocolate-making exhibit and the biggest Cadbury's themed shop in the world.
Hitting the continent
When 'Belgium' and 'chocolate' are in the same sentence, it really makes your mouth water. Chocolatiers in Belgium seem to have really nailed the whole chocolate thing - and it's been named the chocolate capital of the world. If you're really keen on visiting, Brussels has more chocolate factories than anywhere else in the world - check out the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate to find out more about the history of chocolate, how Belgium add that creamy taste and try some truly great creations.
Swiss chocolate is also a favourite amongst chocolate fans. More chocolate is consumed in Switzerland than any other country in the world - it's a surprise that Swiss nationals aren't bigger! Switzerland is a great place to try and experiment with the taste of chocolates - different ingredients added bring out different aspects of the sweet. Visit the Stettler laboratory in Geneva (soon to be a short ride away on the Eurostar) and you can taste the various ingredients the internationally renowned chocolatiers use.
Seeing as Spain is so close, and they were one of the first countries to bring the cocoa bean to Europe after invading Mexico. Now, churros is served on pretty much every other street in the country and is a delight for everyone. Spanish batter is fried, and then coated in sugar, before being dipped in a more bitter chocolate sauce.
Heading further away
Mexicans have been using the cocoa bean for centuries - dating back to the Aztecs using the ingredient in many of their dishes. Mexican chocolate isn't as sweet as we're used to back here in the UK, but instead is usually combines with a unique mix of spices, flavours and has an amazing aroma. Its texture is also slightly different, but don't let that put you off - visit the market stalls in Oaxaca for an authentic treat to being home.
If you'd prefer something a little different - why not head to Brazil? The stunning scenery and lively atmosphere in the cities are one thing, but once you try your first brigadeiro, your mind will be blown. These chocolate sweet desserts look like truffles but are simpler to make. Condensed milk, butter and cocoa powder combine to make a beautiful bitesize treat. Some are even sprinkled with pistachio nut, almond or coconut crumble - delicious!
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If all this chocolate talk hasn't got you reaching for your closest bar then you're a better person than us. If you've visited a country and experienced some great chocolate then why not reach out and share your story on our Facebook or Twitter pages?
If you're thinking about visiting one of these sweet countries, it's a good idea to start thinking about travel insurance. Alpha offer a range of policies to suit any group, with any budget.
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