Tours of a city are usually meant for tourists. It’s a great way to crunch in a lot of information along with sight seeing into a shot period of time. It can also open up new doors for newcomers and individuals who have yet to see every facet of a particular area. Take the good people at Boston Chocolate Tours who enjoy taking you around various neighborhoods of Boston and showing you some very unique spots that you have been overlooking. They help you gain a better appreciation for local businesses and everything relating to chocolate.
The people behind Boston Chocolate Tours are becoming fast friends of mine. Of course if you’re enticing me with chocolate, I may just follow you anywhere. It was on my last trip to Boston that I had the opportunity to meet with the two gals bringing this company into a new era, but also got to take part on another chocolate tour in the Back Bay area. It’s been many years since I took this exact tour and while some things have changed, it still set the bar for all culinary tours to come.
Boston Chocolate Tours has a wide range of offerings for people visiting Boston or groups wanting a day out on the town. Their main business is of course chocolate tours. They cover various neighborhoods in Boston and pair their tours up with local businesses, periodically changing them up so no one tour will ever be the same. The interaction amongst the attendees makes a huge difference into what can be gained while on tour and while some may not like chocolate or have dietary restrictions, I do firmly believe everyone can still enjoy something.
Next up on their docket of fun are cupcake tours! These are a similar concept to the chocolate tours, except with cupcakes and a lot more walking (which is good after all the calories one would be consuming). It’s a fun way to see various neighborhoods of Boston versus just one area. Of course this may all change as a little birdie did tell me that they were working on some new ideas for this tour.
Boston Chocolate Tours also have a truffle making workshop which I highly recommend for any chocoholic. You learn the art of tempering chocolate and get some pretty awesome recipes and ideas to take home with you. At the end of the event you get a big box of truffles to take home of which you “painstakingly” created. And last but not least, the newest of their offerings is a wine and chocolate tasting. Just like wine, chocolate can have a lot of nuances based on where it’s grown that should be fully appreciated. The group goes so far as to show you just how to improve and open up your palate to being able to taste the subtleties. Of course they offer private tours which I think would make a fabulous bachelorette party or for team building opportunities.
The chocolate tour I took on this day covered the Back Bay neighborhood, think Newbury St. It’s a beautiful part of Boston with tons of high end shops, hip places to hang out and of course lots of places to indulge. I honestly go here each and every time I’m in Boston as it holds so many unique and wonderful memories, many of them chocolate related. While this technically is the second time I’ve been on this tour, quite a few of the stops had changed. This is great because it gave me a new opportunity to learn and immerse myself more fully into the hidden gems of Back Bay.
We started off our tour at Hotel Chocolat. They are a British Chocolatier and a very unique one in that they are a complete chocolate company. This means that they have their own farms in which they grow chocolate. They then roast the cocoa beans and turn it into their fine confections. Being a privately owned company and able to control the entire process is almost unheard of. Boston marked a unique opportunity as it was their first US shop. It continues to be a thriving epicenter for luxury chocolates. Their line includes many standard items such as single origin bars and tasting flights, but they also have a knack for releasing seasonal or uniquely exotic flavors that push the limits of what us Americans are used to. During our tour we were able to taste some of their more uncommon chocolates such as white, and then a berry white chocolate. I personally love their Eton Mess which is a combination of white chocolate, berries, meringue and other hidden goodies. A visit to their store never disappoints as their flavors are pure and always exciting.
One of our next stops (and new for me) was O and Co. They’re a boutique olive oil shop tucked away on Newbury St. Our chocolate sample at their location showed a new way to make brownies with ingredients we might have thought better suited to a savory application. Many brownies are made with some sort of oil to give them a moist texture. The group actually used a Bergamot olive oil which created a citrusy after taste in the brownies which I wasn’t quite expecting. They were also finished with some tangerine and chili preserves giving them a glaze and extra burst of flavorful sweetness.
We then made a stop over to Ben and Jerry’s scoop shop which was quite fun. Ryan, took over guiding the tour and took us through all of the initiatives that makes Ben and Jerry’s so special. Their latest project is making sure all sources of the raw goods that go into their product are fair trade certified. This includes all their sugar, coffee, bananas, and cocoa products- it’s a pretty big deal. They want to make sure everyone is being treated fairly and that they’re getting the best products for their ice cream. One surprising tidbit I picked up on the overview is that they’re now working on getting Non-GMO certified. This means that no products that go into their ice cream have genetically modified ingredients. I loved hearing this as it’s a topic I’m very passionate about. Not to mention, I adore their Chunky Monkey and Phish Food ice cream so I can be happy knowing where it’s all sourced from.
We got to visit Teuscher Chocolates which started some fifty years ago in the Swiss mountains. They are famed for their champagne truffle which has a dark chocolate ganache center that is enriched by a creamy infusion containing Dom Perignon Champagne. Its enrobing consists of milk or dark chocolate and it is sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar or cocoa powder to produce the distinctive look. These are phenomenal and are my go to gift for special celebrations as they are truly a luxury to enjoy in life’s finest moments. The decorations and specialty gift boxes show off their distinctive flair for showcasing Europe in downtown Boston.
We then made our way over to Robin’s Candy which provided a very unique and enjoyable time. The shop procures everything. It has a retro feel to the shop with many vintage candies, but then caters to all levels and taste of sugary confections. We got to sample a whole slew of chocolatey goodies which included everything from chocolate covered licorice to chocolate covered ants. We even got to go on a scavenger hunt to source out some insanely large sweets including a whoopie pie the size of a basketball and a twenty seven pound gummy bear. I enjoyed the level of enthusiasm and unique character they had which even included a mini toothbrush upon leaving. Silly but fun!
Our last stop on the tour was to the Gourmet Boutique. They are a small shop packed to the gills with a very large representations of fine chocolates. They really do tend to keep the widest range of chocolate in some of the most unique forms. I was so excited about some very rare bars that I tended to be a bit overzealous with my shopping. It’s a great place to find inspiration and open your eyes to the culture of chocolate represented worldwide.
At the end of the tour we received some fun swag which included Unreal samples. The story behind this company is really cool. Based out of Boston they wanted to tackle making America’s favorite candies pretty darn good for you (or at least a lot better for you than their counterparts). They removed high fructose corn syrup, added more cocoa and less chocolate, and then packed it full of protein and fiber. So far I’ve tried their rendition of a Reese’s Cup, Milky Way and Snickers. While there is a slight noticeable difference in taste, the texture (a bit more gritty) was the telltale factor. What I liked most though was that I could eat one miniature sized morsel of Unreal and feel satisfied, versus eating a lot more of the name brand bars and having little to show for it aside from a growing waste line. It’s a really cool company with some great products.
As usual it was a fun tour with a lot to learn, and some even better chocolate to enjoy. But don’t take my word for it. See what people are saying about Boston Chocolate Tours, look at the pictures and decide that you need to schedule your next trip to Boston ASAP. I know I’m definitely waiting for my next trip to Boston to indulge in their new offerings, but until then I’ll just have to eat my way through the chocolate bars I have stashed.
To full plates and eating your tarte out.