For my recent 50th birthday a gorgeous friend gifted me a ‘Red Balloon’ Voucher for this ‘Chocolate Walking Tour’. Booked it in, with another spot for Joanne, and Saturday was the day.
This Tour is handled by www.foodi.com.au with David as our ‘Tour Guide’. Currently Tours are only available Saturday’s, from 10m to 1pm. We met outside the Information Centre at Regents Theatre before 10am, for a prompt ‘set off’. Apparently the maximum tour numbers are 16, so we were very lucky with our small group of five, including two children….plus David, who has been doing these Tours for around two years, so was very knowledgeable.
Must haves are – comfy walking shoes, even though we only walked within a few block radius, from Queen Street, back down into Albert and Elizabeth, then across Queen again, down along Adelaide. Some water is also recommended, to wash down all of that fabulous chocolate.
Most of our ‘chocolate lessons’ came during the morning tea, and then at Chocolate Moments – all very interesting.
David explained the huge difference between ‘compound chocolate’ and ‘couverture chocolate’ – of course we only ate couverture during the tour. Couverture chocolate only has four to say eight ingredients, compared to compound chocolate which has palm oil and many other additives – have a look at the list of ingredients on the back of a supermarket bought box of chocolates.
Cacao trees are mainly grown in Africa and South America, as they need certain climatic conditions – hot and rainy tropical area. Apparently there are only two cacao farms in Australia, and one may be in liquidation.
The cacao pod is harvested, split open end to end, and seeds scraped out; these seeds are then vermented and dried – then shipped off as cacao beans. The beans can be ground up to produce cacao butter, powder and paste and depending on how this is all remixed, then you get the different percentages of cacao in your chocolate.
Fair trade is very important to chocolatiers – important that workers on cacao farms are treated well and paid fairly. The majority of larger chocolate companies just buy from all over the world, melt it down and then use the additives – not being concerned about where, how etc.
I was a little horrified to learn that Easter Eggs are often three years old when we buy them, due to the volume that are required to be made for each year. Most chocolate in standard retail shops must have a shelf life of 18 months. Whereas couverture chocolate shelf life is three months.
We visited five different ‘chocolate sampling’ places during the Tour, with key points about each below.
- Spent around 45 mins here for morning tea
- Supplied as part of the Tour were three churros each and six different melted couverture dipping sauces, from salted caramel through to Nutella
- Churros are cooked fresh to order – crispy and golden
- Any beverages we ordered was own expense, however there was table water
- Separate tables set aside, and as we were the first customers of the day, lovely and quiet
- Conveniences are available
- The chocolate we viewed here in blocks ranged from 32%, 54% and 70% cocao solids. All made in Spain for Chocolateria San Churro, with only four ingredients.
Stop 2 – Chocolate Moments
This gorgeous shop is owned by Gerrard Gossens (Paralympian, and off Dancing with Stars) and wife Heather. Gerrard is a world class chocolatier, who due his being blind has a highly developed taste and smell – he believes that you should not need to read what a chocolate flavour is; by taste you will know.
- Uses Belgium couverture chocolate and freshest and best ingredient sourced from around the world
- Just down from the corner of Charlotte and Albert Streets
- Beautiful selection of hand crafted chocolates including some cute animals
- We had small samples of chocolate from various countries, such as Venezuela – where the cacao trees are grown infuses different flavours, such as grapes with wine
- These chocolates do not need refrigeration
- Gerrard being blind, focusses on the inside and Heather on the outside
- Store was closed for the 10 mins or so Heather was chatting to us, and we were tasting, however all up we were there around half hour
Stop 3 – Bonsai Botanika in Elizabeth Street
- Organic/Japanese café style venue with lots of earthy, timber and brass furnishings
- Sat upstairs on cute cushioned stools – was a little cosy
- Supplied with very thick chocolate (ganache) that we drank from shot glasses. The dark chocolate one also had a hint of coffee. This ganache is usually served with a small carafe of milk, as a ‘de-constructed hot chocolate’.
- We were also served small samples of banana cake I think, matcha tea and dark chocolate/mud cake
- Another half hour or so at this location
- Conveniences here too
Stop 4 – Chocolate Boulevard – Myers Centre
- Owned by Gerrard and Heather Gosens too but also incorporates different confectionary and chocolates from around the world
- We received a sample of their handcrafted Belgium chocolates
- This was just a browse through
- All up there around 10-15 minutes
Stop 5 (and final) – Noosa Chocolate Factory – Adelaide Street
- Last stop on the tour
- We broke apart a cocoa bean and really was crumbly inside – this shows what it looks like raw
- We were given samples of ‘Rolled Pecan’ and ‘Whole strawberries’ coated in quality couverture chocolate
- They partner with Australian farms, from freeze dried whole Victorian Strawberries, Kingaroy cocoa dusted peanuts, semi dried chocolate coated cranberries, chocolate coated young Queensland ginger and chocolate coated South Australian pesticide free Almonds.
- All of their dark chocolate products are 100% vegan and all products are 100% palm oil free.
- Last 10 minutes or so of the tour here, then said our goodbyes
I have to admit by this last stop we were ‘all chocolated out’, but it was a very enjoyable Tour, we learnt a lot about what we are putting in our mouths, and was a lovely way to see areas of the CBD that I have previously just rushed past.