Happy Easter Chocoholics!

Poco Dolce dark chocolate tiles
Poco Dolce dark chocolate tiles

Lots of chocolate is sold for Easter: Cadbury eggs, chocolate bunnies, solid and hollow chocolate eggs, and more.

“Americans spend an average of $2 billion on Halloween candy, $1.9 billion on Easter candy, $1.4 billion on Christmas candy and $1 billion on Valentine’s Day candy.” (Universe)

The day before Valentine's Day the line went down the block at Ginger Elizabeth chocolate shop.
The day before Valentine’s Day the line went down the block at Ginger Elizabeth chocolate shop.

Since I moved to midtown Sacramento I have a birds eye view of the popularity of chocolate. Some of the finest and most popular chocolate is from Ginger Elizabeth. There is often a line for the hot chocolate or for a sweet treat.

At the cheese festival in Petaluma I discovered a San Francisco chocolatier, Poco Dolce. Today I am enjoying a couple of the bittersweet chocolate tiles: burnt caramel toffee and roasted almond. Yum.

Of course, as a followers of Jesus, the reason for Easter is to celebrate his resurrection. The chocolate is a bonus. Happy Easter.

Dessert First!

Called the secret dessert garden, it was easy to talk my friend Diana into trying a new desserts-only restaurant, Milse, in the Pavilions of Britomart in downtown Auckland.  Another friend Beverley told me about Milse while we ate lunch at another of the restauranteur’s eateries (St. Heliers Bay Cafe and Bistro) These are all new additions since I was last in Auckland JUST 10 MONTHS AGO!

Milse is tucked around the corner...

The entrance to Milse is slightly hidden, just like the gate in the classic children’s book. The front entrance is filled with cases of delectable chocolate and other desserts. There is a hostess station where you can buy your dessert to go. There are people waiting to be seated at one of the 5 or 6 small tables. We went early enough that we were seated promptly.

Cozy dining area inside Milse
Cozy dining area inside Milse
Truffles, truffels, truffels.
Truffles, truffels, truffels.

The hostess led us past a bar where you could sit and eat divine desserts while watching the chefs create similar confections.  Or you can sit in a cozy table that feels like the inside of a beehive.

We decided to go for it! We ordered four different menu items and our eyes rolled back in our heads depending on our individual tastes. For Diana it was the pecan and honey tart. For me it was, well all of them, but especially the chocolate covered ice cream bar.

Diana admiring our selections before we devoured them!
Diana admiring our selections before we devoured them!

Forget my pledge to eat sugar free!  This is just too amazing of a dining experience to pass up.

Postcard: Cadbury Chocolate Factory Tour Anyone?

Need you ask?  The answer to any question involving chocolate is an unqualified YES!

I had some extra time the first day I arrived in Dunedin but missed the last tour. The hostess encouraged me to book a tour for the next day to secure a spot since the winter school holidays were starting.  I returned the next day at 10:30 a.m. and joined a group of Chinese, Australian, Kiwi and American chocolate fans for a 1.15 hour tour.

Cadbury Factory visitor centre and tours
Cadbury Factory visitor centre and tours

If you listen carefully you quickly realize that many of the women on the tour have elaborate chocolate fantasies. While walking by a large tub of chocolate being stirred provocatively, “Ohh, I’d love to take a bath in that.”  After the guide teased us saying that we would be stopping in the silo for a surprise at the end of the tour, “Ohhh, I hope they pour chocolate on us.”

Cadbury Chocolate Company was started in England by Quakers. I have learned a lot about the company over the years between my pastors who are Quaker history buffs and chocolate eaters, and I read an entire book about the company a few years ago.  The family’s commitment to slave free chocolate and worker health and education was quite unique. Sadly, the Kraft company bought it a few years ago and now much of these commitments are part of history.

The factory in Dunedin is quite old and has just gone through a kind of total quality management process to remain open for certain specialty Cadbury products.  Their competitive advantage is the quality of the milk chocolate crumb they make, mainly due to the superior quality of NZ dairy milk.

We all donned hair nets and took off all of our jewelry and listened to our tour guide with rapt attention. He quickly had us trained to walk to the left and try to answer questions as he was quite liberal with the chocolate rewards.  It was not just the three little girls who were trying for treats. Fortunately, he was very generous with the samples.

I love dark chocolate, and yet I happily ate a Picnic bar, a Dairy Milk, and a Carmello bar in a relatively short span of time. When I left I was in desperate need of a coffee.  All in all, this was one of the happiest places I have been–giving Disney a run for the money. Everyone on the tour was just as pleased as me, and the operations are impressive.

Crunchie Mountain
Crunchie Mountain: Crunchie bars are hokey-pokey covered in chocolate