Guido Castagna, Turin. Images: Facebook
“Fast your seatbelts”. Ryanair publishes on his blog a new appointment of traveling to some of the best European places where enjoy a good chocolate. Just take a flight!The list also includes the Italian Guido Castagna, in Turin, and Amaedei, in Tuscany.
TURIN: GUIDO CASTAGNA
Turin is a mecca for foodies, and for foodies of the chocaholic variety in particular. Turin is where gianduiotti were invented – those long triangular nuggets of soft, smooth chocolate and roasted hazelnut heaven. The city has loads of incredible chocolatiers, but if you only taste one kind of chocolate in Turin, make it the incredible award-winning stuff that’s made by Guido Castagna. The chocolate, the truffles, the hazelnut spread… it’s all just genuinely magnificent.
Tuscan cuisine is revered among foodies everywhere, so its no surprise that there’s some incredible chocolate to be found in this gorgeous part if Italy. Amedei chocolate is made, bean-to-bar, in Pontedera, just a short drive from Pisa. It’s a family operation; Alessio Tessieri scours the cacao producing world for the finest cocoa beans, and his sister Cecilia transforms it into smooth, rich, elegant bars of pure unadulterated pleasure. Everything is organic, and each stage of the process is carefully monitored by the Tessieris. This is chocolate made by chocolate lovers for chocolate lovers.
BERLIN: FASSBENDER & RAUSCH
The world’s biggest chocolate emporium – open since 1863 – has a chocolate shop, a chocolate café, and a chocolate restaurant. Choose one of their 10 hot chocolates and one of their painfully beautiful cakes. Get a box of some of their perfect pralines and truffles too. And don’t miss the chocolate sculptures. But you can’t eat those!
BRUSSELS: PIERRE MARCOLINI
A chocoholic in Brussels is pretty much the definition of ‘kid in a candy shop’. It’s the kind of city where you can have your cake and eat it too, then order more cake, eat that washed down with a hot chocolate, and get a giant box of the best chocolates you’ve ever eaten while you’re at it. It’s really hard to pick just one chocolate experience in Brussels, but if we absolutely had to choose one, it’s got to be Pierre Marcolini. These chocolates will set you back a fair bit more than a Dairy Milk, but once you’ve taken one look at Marcolini’s chocolates and pastries, never mind one taste, you’ll be flinging every last cent you have at them. Try not to remortgage the house.
Bernachon make some of the very best chocolate in France, not just Lyon. And they do actually make the chocolate, rather than making sweets from already-made chocolate. They even roast the beans to their taste. Go there, and when you’re there, try two things; Le President and Les Palets D’or. The first is Bernachon’s signature cake that is a spongy chocolate genoise cake with hazelnut praline and cherry confit, all wrapped up in the most delicate chocolate leaves imaginable . The Palets D’or are ganache chocolates decorated with golf leaf.
Mondieu café in Bratislava has molten chocolate on tap. White, milk and dark all ready to be poured into the nearest cup and straight down your throat. As well as serving dangerously good hot chocolate, you can get a trio of croissants drizzled in each of the chocolates, along with with pots for dipping, and a selection of cake that are so good they’d make the gods weep.
VILNIUS: AJ SOKOLADINĖS
On the main street of Vilnius Old Town, you’ll find AJ Šokoladinės (AJ Chocolates). From the outside it doesn’t look too big but prepare to stuff yourself to the gills with a massive selection of unbelievable truffles, pralines, and other chocolate delights. The hot chocolate is something special (particularly if you’re visiting Vilnius in the colder months), and there’s even an entire parlour room built out of chocolate. You should definitely try the blue cheese and walnut praline, it’s a lot better than it sounds.
MADRID: SAN GINES
San Gines has been around since 1894, so it’s no wonder they have their chocolat con churros down to a fine art. It doesn’t even have a menu because frankly, if you come here, that’s what you’re ordering. For €3.90 you get six light, crisp, fresh churros with a cup of molten chocolate for dipping. Or drinking. If you run out of churros, just use your fingers or pour it straight into your face. They are open almost 24 hours a day , so you have plenty of opportunity to feed your addiction, even at 4 in the morning with a bunch of other reprobates.
It’s really not easy to decide on one particular chocolatier that stands out in Paris. There are so, so many and they are so, so good. But a trip to Angelina, for its famous African hot chocolate and a ‘Mont Blanc’ (Angelina’s signature pastry), is a Paris chocolate experience that everyone should have at least once in their lives.
KERRY: SKELLIGS CHOCOLATES
The sweet smell of chocolate hits you the moment you walk through the doors of the Skelligs chocolate factory in Ballinskelligs, one of the most beautiful little corners of Ireland. You can visit the factory for free, and there’s a café that opens from Easter until September. Here you will get one of the most gorgeous, creamy hot chocolates you’ve ever tasted that you can enjoy as you look out over Ireland’s southern coast with the wild Skellig islands in the distance. Particularly perfect to drink on one of Ireland’s wilder days, as you look at the islands and wonder whose big idea it was to build a monastery there.
Choccywoccydoodah do magical things with chocolate. Their cakes are legit works of art, but if you don’t have a wedding or big event that justifies ordering one of those bad bays, you can still get a taste of the action in their chocolate café in Carnaby (there’s one in Brighton too). Their hot chocolate is to die for, their cakes are perfect, and the dipping platter is molten chocolate nirvana. Skip dinner, and have chocolate instead!
It would be frankly insane not to put Confiserie Sprüngli on the top of your list. You might have heard of their chocolates under another name… Lindt. You know how good those Lindor truffles are? Smooth as silk on the outside and soft as butter on the inside? Well imagine a whole cafe full of fresh chocolates, cakes and pastries made by the same guys.
BARCELONA: CACAO SAMPAKA
Go to Cacao Sampaka, which is just a ten minute walk away from Placa de Catalunya and Las Ramblas. It’s a high-end chocolatier that serves all kinds of chocolate deliciousness including churros, but if we had to choose one thing for you to try, we’d tell you to order the ‘Azteca’ hot chocolate. It’s as thick as syrup, 80% spiced cocoa that will take you to places you never thought you could go. If you’re feeling gluttonous peckish, pair it with a chocolate fondue – molten chocolate with a selection of gorgeous fruit and/or pastries to dip into it.
WARSAW: E. WEDEL
Seriously awesome chocolates and desserts that won’t totally bankrupt you. The chocolate waffles are superb, but those three little pots of molten chocolate shouldn’t be missed either. The white hot chocolate with berries is… transcendent. It’s transcendent.