Right upfront I have to warn you. This blog is focused on chocolate, though I will mention the word bread. And for all you faithful readers out there, I procured an appointment with a traditional German bakery for next Tuesday where I get to look behind the scenes and learn more about bread and Bretzel. The owner of the bakery went to elementary school with one of my siblings. So, be looking forward to an upcoming post. I certainly am!!!
Back to chocolate. Here is a picture of Sandy and I at my favorite Starbucks in Stuttgart. It has two stories and the upstairs is one giant living-room. Very cool! What does this have to do with chocolate. Well, they do sell hot chocolate there, don’t they?
Relax time at Starbucks Stuttgart
I have you know that we walked half-way across the city to get to Starbucks though that was not our original destination. We needed to go to the bank so we could infuse our hard-earned american dollars into the German economy. Ok, I admit it, we needed to exchange some cash. Though one bank we went to didn’t close until 4.30pm they wouldn’t do the exchange because it was too close to quitting time. Forgot to mention, we got there at 4pm. Can you believe that? Luckily, I knew of another bank at the main train station (Hauptbahnhof) where they were happy to take our money.
BACK TO CHOCOLATE: Here is where we went today and what this post is all about
(If you are wondering about all the ‘d’s up there by the picture, my cursor wouldn’t come down on its own and I had to trick it)
Ritter Sport is known for their original shape of a chocolate bar. It is square and you may have seen it at Henry’s (now Sprouts, sorry). It is one of the bestest (yes, this is a word in my vocabulary) chocolates and well worth the money. For all you Hershey’s fans out there, I can’t help but I pity you. I challenge you to do a side by side taste test with Hershey’s and Ritter Sport (or any Swiss, Belgium or German chocolate). And if you do NOT chose the European brand over Hershey’s, I am afraid your tasebuds are too far gone for chocolate redemption. And you have my condolences.
Here is a picture of a fraction of our loot from the chocolate factory. I will show you the actual amount of loot at the end of the blog. (This is called keeping your audience in suspense. IS IT WORKING?)
Schokolade im Quadrat (chocolate squares)
My favorite one is the one in the red wrapper. It is Marzipan. But I also love anything with hazelnuts; so nougat, nougat mousse, dark chocolate with hazelnut, milk chocolate with hazelnut are also on the list of favorites.
And I totally love their colorful wrappers! In fact, a few years ago, I had the idea of doing a chocolate quilt with actual chocolate bar size fabric squares. I had it all sketched out and had planned to make it for an entry into a quilting competition. And because I like to plan ahead and be prepared, I wrote to the Ritter Sport Company to ask them if they would let me use their logo on the quilt. Just in case I would win the competition, I didn’t want to have to deal with trademark issues. The kind people at www.ritter-sport.com wrote me back and gave me permission to use their logo! Did I win the quilting competition, you ask? Well, in order to win, you actually had to enter your quilt, and that required that you actually had made a quilt. Life caught up with me and apart from creating a very cool and authentic looking chocolate square from dark brown silk and a used Mr. Clean scrubber pad, the project did not come to fruition. But I still have all my sketches and who knows what will happen in the future. Ask me about my chocolate quilt a little further down the road.
I wanted to add another picture showing the town of Waldenbuch where this gem of a chocolate factory is located, but my phone thought I didn’t supply it with a SIM card even though I actually had one in there for a long time. So, no picture of Waldenbuch but here is a picture of the entrance to the factory/museum:
Signage for the museum
Okey, so it’s not the entrance but a picture of the sign in front of a beautifully barren tree. By the way, the cherry blossoms are in bloom here already. At least that’s what I think they are. Never claimed to be a botanist, so they could be apple tree blossoms for all I know. Doesn’t really matter. Chocloate is what matters, so back to the subject at hand
This is a cocoa tree or is it a cocoa bean tree? No matter. The cocoa bean is actually hidden inside this big thingy hanging on the tree. You have to cut the thingy open with a machete to get to the real stuff. By hand, which means someone has to do this as a job. “So, what do you do for a living?” “I am a cocoa bean opener.” “Is that like a can opener?” Sorry, bad script in my head.
Anyway, the cocoa beans in that hull are actully white and wettish. You would not even recognize it a s a cocoa bean unless I labeled my pictures. Which I can not because I did not take a picture of the actual cocoa beans inside the hull thingy. But take my word for it. So, now that the white stuff is out of the hull thingy, it needs to be dried, so it can be crushed and mamed further down the road. Nicaragua happens to be a wonderful place for drying cocoa beans, did you know that? Just like ITALY is a great place to have salame made from donkey meet. I know at least one of you knows about THAT!
I would like to tell you more about the process but I had to step away from the display that played a video of it. People were approaching the exhibit and I like to stay ahead of people. So, I moved on and if you want to learn more about the chocolate making process I suggest you either visit the Ritter Sport factory yourself or you head on over to Wikipedia. My job is done here.
Pointing to our favorite chocolate (wrappers)
This picture was taken after we did some serious chocolate shopping. We seem so happy don’t we? Good chocolate always makes me happy and here is why. I found this saying on the table in the museum cafe where we stopped to re-energize after the hard work of buying at least 8 pounds of chocolate!
“Chocolate is the fabric from which dreams are made. Luscious, dark, velvelty soft dreams which enthrall your senses and awaken passion. Chocloate is insanity, chocolate is ecstasy.”
This was my drink, oh so very good! We also got a croissant to share but that thing was so dry, it did not deserve to be mentioned in my bread blog. So, this is my tip to travelers: Stay away fromt he croissants at the Ritter Sport Museum!The saucer also had a saying on it
I’ll drink to that! Almost forgot, I promised to show you our entire loot love that word, I learned it from Calvin and Hobbes). So, here it is:
…Over and out!