Sunday, September 18, 2011

Philadelphia Chocolate Tour - for real this time

I apologize - I meant to write these posts over the last week - but work just got CRAZY!    So now that Im wide awake after the Phillies clinch - Im working on finally getting one of my posts up!   Maybe I can get some more up tomorrow after the marathon....

Last Sunday, Adam and I redeemed our groupons for the Philadelphia Chocolate Tour.   As with many things, the only reason I ever heard of this was because of groupon.   Back in October 2010, there was a 50% off deal.   At the time, Adam was unemployed and I was looking for good deals for things we could do, and I didn't think the price was all that bad.    Originally it was $40pp, the sale was $20pp - more in line with what I was willing to pay, whether we are both gainfully employed or not.

Back to present day now.    The tour started right outside the Reading Terminal Market.   For those of you not from, or familiar, with the Philly area - the market is an (awesome) indoor farmers market.   Whatever you want, you can find here.   It offers your typical farmers market stands with lots of produce, your standard amish market stands with a whole section of amish vendors (that section is closed on Sundays), tons of yummy food vendors for breakfast and lunch, some stores, ice cream vendor, cookie vendor, tons of bakeries, flower vendors, etc, etc, etc.

Adam and I decided if we were meeting at the market for a chocolate tour at 11:45am - we were gonna get there earlier and grab a bite to eat for lunch.   We went to Kamal's Middle Eastern Specialties - I had a falafal "sandwich" and Adam had a schwarma "sandwich" and then I ordered a side of hummus for us.   They had a bunch of things that looked really yummy that I wanted to take home with me - but alas, I knew I didn't need them.    In the end we were both happy with our choices and I would totally go back again (as a matter of fact - that wasn't my first time there).   I really wish we lived and/or worked close by so I could stop at the market much more often!

After lunch, we went and met the tour outside of the market and waited for a little bit for everyone to come.   We started at that spot and discussed chocolate and got to smell, and if we wanted taste, a cocoa bean.   It looked nothing like what you may think - I didn't try because she warned that it was really bittersweet and dark chocolate lovers (which I am not) would like it.  Our first stop on the tour was inside of the market at The Famous 4th Street Cookie.  At this location, we met the owner and he and our guide gave us a little history on the chocolate chip cookie - did you know the cookie was accidentally developed over 80 years ago in MA at the Toll House Inn, over 7 million are sold each year - and only account for about 25% of cookies sold each year? Oh and the cookie at Famous 4th Street - YUMMY in my tummy!   So yummy - I bought a dozen plus cookies (but only about 1/2 were choc. chip) for dessert at my parents that night.
I couldn't wait before taking a picture...

Next stop on the tour was the Pennsylvania General Store (also in the terminal market).   This store has a lot of chocolate and food - but is not just about that - but about anything PA.   They are mostly an online store, shipping gift baskets and items all over the country - but they do have a shop in the market.  Here, we got to sample three local chocolates:

Chocolate Scrapple - this is just the idea of scrapple - with a combination of chocolate, pretzel bits, nuts, popcorn and marshmallow - but definitely no pork.

Zeitner's Creme Egg - most commonly seen around Easter - but apparently a Philadelphia company

Where do you think the kiss came from?
Bottom of the Wilbur Bud

Wilbur Buds - when you look at this, you might think Hershey Kiss.   Except Hershey worked for Wilbur, then went out on his own and all the sudden the Hershey Kiss appeared.   Wilbur continues to make the buds - and I must say it is so much better!   It also is "personalized" a bit more

We also learned at this stop that Philadelphia has the largest import of Cocoa Beans in the country (you can thank Mars and Hershey) accounting for 70% of all imports to the US.

The chocolates at marcie blaine
chocolates bought by us 
Our next stop took us to Marcie Blaine Artisanal Chocolates - which is inside of Verde - a jewelry and accessory store.   Additionally, the folks who own this place own like half the block.

We tasted a piece of chocolate bark, which tasted good, but their chocolates looked so good, we had to buy a few (overpriced) chocolates so we could taste.   We bought the following chocolates (only 5 shown on the right): Mint Julip, Lemon Mint, Love Park (Rasberry), Soft Pretzel (Pretzel and Peanut Butter), Italian Flirt and Hot Lolita.

So far, I have just tasted 2 of the 4 - I plan to eat the rest this coming week.   The first we had was Lemon Mint - it was pretty disappointing - because Adam nor I tased Lemon or Mint.   On the other hand, we then had the Mint Julip - and that was really good.

Next stop on the tour was Teuscher - which is a famous swiss chocolate maker.   They make all their products fresh and everything gets shipped directly from the the best locations for those items (no matter the price).   Then they are made in Switzerland and fly first class to their final destinations (they have locations throughout the world). 

Chocolates at Teuscher
At this location, we learned what makes Swiss chocolate so different and how it was an accident.   Mr. Tobler (ie Toblerone) was mixing his chocolate, and when he left, he forgot to turn the mixers off - so the chocolate was mixing throughout the night.   He came in the next morning and noticed and was upset because he just ruined a lot of expensive chocolate.   Before throwing it out, he decided to taste it to see if he could somehow salvage - and he found that it was really good - it was no longer bittersweet.   Now that is the process that is used (it has some official name) to make Swiss chocolate.

At this location, we got to taste the champagne truffles, which uses dom perignon champagne.   Im not a big truffle person - nor champagne, but I figured Id try - and it was good!   We even bought a couple - one for me and one for Adam.   Since that was so good, we decided to buy a few other chocolates and a couple chocolate bars.    I can't remember exactly what other ones we picked out - and we haven't tasted, but maybe Ill update once we taste the rest of our chocolates this week.

Last stop on this tour was sweet and cold - Gelato!!   we went to Capogiro Gelato - which has a few locations across the city.   we tasted 5 different Gelatos: Dark Chocolate (had a nicer name than that), Malt, Mocha, Hazelnut and a Choc Chip (in a vanilla base).   I was a fan of all of them except Mocha (I don't like coffee though).   In the end, there was so much left that we could take a flavor if we wanted - I chose the Malt (but was debating between that and hazelnut) and Adam took the Mocha.  This place was a bit more affordable, so we would probably go back again if we were around one.

All in all - I learned a bit about chocolate, nothing about Philly, enjoyed some yummy chocolate, and spent a whole lot more money so we could taste some more chocolate.   But I would still recommend - definitely worth $20 a person - probably the $40 as well, but I would be disappointed I didn't get to taste more, or pick what I wanted to taste at that price point.

For more pictures from this tour and our purchases (and our day in Philly) go here.

1 comment:

  1. If you come here in feb march you can do the Boston chocolate tour, it is a trolley tour that ends at a chocolate buffet!