By Alpenwild, Special for USDR
“Chocolate bliss,” that exquisite moment where a cacao bean expresses its finest creamy dark essence on your tongue, is an elusive experience for the chocolate lover—but one that can easily become a global quest. Rhapsodic chocolate moments like these are loaded into the itinerary of a new culinary adventure: Tour de Chocolat.
Designed for those who hunger for the snap of a perfectly tempered piece of single-source dark chocolate, this food tour provides the opportunity to spend a week in the workshops and kitchens of artisan chocolatiers in Switzerland—the birthplace of chocolate as we know it.
Participants discover the fascinating backstory of chocolate and dive into the world of fine chocolate. It’s a deluxe, small-group tour where guests learn time-honored traditional methods as well as cutting-edge techniques.
Tour de Chocolat, conceived as an insider’s dream tour, gives guests hands-on opportunities to participate in the creation of delectable chocolate creations and work with top chocolatiers. Each day there are exclusive chocolate experiences—workshops, tastings, and demonstrations.
In addition to the daily dose of unforgettable chocolate, participants taste their way through Switzerland’s other culinary treasures. While in Gruyere, they discover the 900-year-old techniques of making the region’s signature cheese—followed by a dinner of bubbling fondue and freshly baked regional bread.
On the same day as tasting chocolate truffles, guests travel to the moist soil of the Jura forests to unearth fragrant and prized forest truffles—with the assistance of a truffle-hunting dog. Guests dine in a Michelin-starred restaurant and enjoy the depth and innovation of Swiss cuisine.
Understandably, artisans who have built their career around a single ingredient like chocolate, are passionate and meticulous. Blaise Poyetof Läderach, hosts a custom workshop for Tour de Chocolat guests which allows them to work in his chocolate studio with top quality raw ingredients. Poyet is committed to his exotic chocolate artistry. “The flavors must take you on a journey. I work with the ingredients until the blend captures the feelings and memories you connect with a certain place—Thailand, Morocco, India, Tibet or Switzerland. It must be distinctive, memorable, and delicious.”
Interspersed between the chocolate events and culinary experiences is guided touring in Luzern, Gruyeres, Montreux, and Zurich. Guests visit a medieval castle, take a cogwheel railway, and cruise on Lake Luzern at sunset. A special feature is a private guided vineyard walk and wine tasting at the ancient terraced vineyards of Lavaux.
Greg Witt, owner of the tour operator Alpenwild, explains that, “Guests have been asking for a ‘chocolate tour’ for years. The itinerary was developed in consultation with local chocolatiers. It’s the perfect balance of fine cuisine and fine chocolate in the shadow of the majestic Alps.”
Tour de Chocolat is a deluxe culinary tour in Switzerland. Accommodations are in 4- and 5-star luxury hotels. Meals, transportation, excursions, and admissions are included. Cost: $3595pp for the 6-night/7-day tour. Weekly departures available from May-October 2017.