Monday, February 13, 2012
Chocolate tours offer new perspective on Dallas dining
Tour makes stops at local chocolate shops.
Imagine an afternoon of being chauffeured around Dallas to sample the best chocolate shops and bakeries the city has to offer. This sweet idea inspired the formation of Dallas by Chocolate, a new company designed to show you the best places to satisfy your chocolate cravings.
Chocolate enthusiast Jeanine Stevens founded Dallas by Chocolate only recently, but the tours are catching on quickly. Stevens leads the tours along with business partner and food expert Steven Doyle. Doyle runs the popular food blog, CraveDFW. Artisan shops of many different specialties are included in Dallas by Chocolate's repertoire, with names you may know well, like Society Bakery, as well as some you may not have heard of.
Each tour's itinerary varies slightly according to the theme of the day. February offers choices such as the "Chocolate Indulgence" and "Sweetheart" tours. In March, tours will make a stop at Scardello, an artisan cheese shop, for cheese and chocolate pairings.
The Chocolate Indulgence tour, scheduled on three different days to accommodate the Valentine's season, visited venues such as Dude, Sweet Chocolate, Great One Cookie Company, Eatzi's, and Zen Baking Company.
Each tour lasts approximately three hours, and transportation is either a limo bus or a stretch limo for smaller groups. Between stops, time is passed on the limo bus with chocolate history and chocolate trivia, courtesy of Stevens and Doyle. Knowing facts like the official name of "Chocolatetown, USA," could win you a special chocolate prize. Those over 21 are offered wine or can bring their own.
For the February 11 tour, patrons began by meeting at Eatzi's. They were given a short introduction to the market, with particular focus on the bakery and chocolate shop. Indulgent samples of Eatzi's most popular Valentine's Day treats were distributed generously.
First up — slices of chocolate cherry bread, freshly baked with chunks of dark chocolate and tart, dried cherries. Next, pieces of Dr. Sue's handmade chocolate bark, with ingredient combinations such as hazelnut and coconut, ancho chiles, or cherries and pecans. To finish, Eatzi's house-specialty, the Chocolate Oblivion cake, a rich combination of flourless chocolate cake, crunchy toffee bits, airy chocolate mousse, and silky caramel.
From there, the tour was shuttled to the Great One Cookie Company in Uptown. Great One's cookies have graced events such as Tony Romo's wedding and are currently preparing to serve the Academy Awards.
Baker Pam Denesuk put together sample bags of her three most popular cookies — chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and snickerdoodle. Denesuk then relayed the history of her bakery to the tour group and talked up some of her recent cookie creations, including a chocolate peanut butter pretzel combination that has been flying off the shelf.
Next, Zen Baking Company in Deep Ellum gave the group a chance to sit down and kick up their feet. The store's bakers offered samples of their cake balls, truffles, and specialty Filipino desserts. Chonnie Richey, who owns the bakery with her sister, Czarina, spoke about their shop and how she and her sister got into the business.
Zen Baking Company is unique in that they offer savory items as well. Traditional Filipino dishes are on the menu, categorized as "Asian Tapas," as is bubble tea and a wide assortment of teas, coffees, and smoothies. You can even place an order delivery if you live downtown.
The tour concluded with a visit to Dude, Sweet Chocolate in Oak Cliff. This chocolate shop made a name for itself by offering nontraditional chocolate combinations, many of which are not for the faint of stomach. As soon as the group entered, the shop's employees pulled out their cutting boards and began slicing and generously distributing samples of their most popular chocolates.
Outlandish choices include the FM1410, a soft chocolate toffee blended with Marfa tomatoes and jalapenos, and the Albatross, fudge made with dehydrated blue cheese and sea salt. Those not wishing to branch out too far can stick with the more palatable sounding choices like the Tahitian — coconut milk passion fruit fudge.
Dude, Sweet Chocolate also sells other concoctions made with chocolate. Their Tub of Love, a hazelnut chocolate spread, makes a great spread on toast and bagels. A shot of their One Night Stand, a tequila chocolate sauce, is recommended for martinis and fondue. Also worth trying, the Cocoa Vin, a cocoa infused aged balsamic vinegar, is good for salads and fruit.
Dallas by Chocolate tours occur nearly every weekend, but spots fill quickly. If you're in need of a Valentine's Day present, the February 19 "Sweetheart Tour" is still open. Spots on the tour are $25 each or $70 for the smaller, stretch limo tours.
Dallas by Chocolate also offers specialty bookings for groups. What better way to socialize than over samples of Dallas' tastiest chocolate treats?
Pegasus News Content partner - The Daily Campus
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