Chocolate Tours showcase best chocolate in Los Angeles
If you are a chocoholic like me, you are always in search of the best chocolate in Los Angeles. I even put together a Chocolate Indulgence Tour to showcase the best chocolate in Los Angeles. This came about early in our tour business when local friends suggested I do a themed-tour such as featuring cupcakes, bacon, cocktail, donuts. You get the idea. And since it was near Valentine’s Day and I love chocolate, I launched our Chocolate Indulgence Tour in February 2011.
Back then our chocolate tour featured chocolate shops and bakeries in Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Our guests met at the Original Farmer’s Market before embarking on a “three hour tour” full of all kinds of chocolate. I once had guests say “There’s no such thing as too much chocolate.” And then I overheard the comment you don’t want to hear, “I never want to see a piece of chocolate again!” So that’s not the idea I was going for. Through trial and error I have figured less chocolate is actually more and the variety of chocolates offered is important. All tastings don’t have to be traditional chocolate candy. Chocolate comes in many forms and the Chocolate Tour now offers chocolate beverages, cookies, cakes, brownies, candies and more. Sometimes I even give my guests a choice at our tasting stops, in case they are feeling “chocolate-wasted” they may like to take a little break from the cacao bean and sample a non-chocolate flavor.
Originally our tour stopped at such Los Angeles favorites as MILK on Beverly Boulevard for their Ooey-Gooey Double-Chocolate Cookies and John Kelly Chocolates for a peek inside the kitchen operations that produce their beautiful truffle fudge bars. But as we know in the food business, places come and places go, even our favorites. We said farewell to Hasty Torres when she closed up Madame Chocolat in Beverly Hills to move closer to her husband Mr. Chocolate, Jacques Torres whose business is based in New York. Oh let’s not forget Terry and Wally August, owners of FanciFull Gift Baskets on Melrose Avenue. They offered our guests samples of chocolate from around the world with little savory nibbles in between and refreshing cups of Elderflower Presse. They are still in business and offer the most creative gift baskets! The final tasting on that original tour was the Melted Chocolate Sandwich offered at Grub Restaurant, which always surprised guests at how good it was. But then the chef/owners decided to take white bread off their menu and there went our melty-sweet sandwich. I met some really special chocolate and fellow chocoholics. We had many groups rent the van for their private tours, to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, bachelorette parties, team-building events and even holiday parties. I will never forget the co-workers that dressed up as Willy Wonka and the Oompa Loompas.
During this time, I was contacted by several owners of chocolate shops wanting to be featured on our tour and I realized I could put a West LA Chocolate Tour together that would feature businesses entirely run by female entrepreneurs. And so we moved the tour to Saturday afternoons and started to explore chocolate in Culver City, Mar Vista and Venice. This idea has been able to stay in the tradition it was launched. Not that men don’t make quality chocolate, but to be able to feature an entire tour of female business owners is pretty special. The current Chocolate Tour runs from 3:00 to 6:00pm on select Saturday afternoons.
A chocolatier once told me about “chocolate season” which basically covers Halloween to Mother’s Day with all the most significant chocolate buying holidays in between. Even though people are still buying chocolate year round, the months of October to May are when chocolate makers sell the most chocolate. So in keeping with that theme, I always post a date near Halloween, Christmas/Hanukkah, Valentine’s Day, Easter and Mother’s Day. And it’s especially fun to visit our shops during those holidays to see how they decorate! Seats are open on those dates for individual bookings. In the summer months, I concentrate on my Hollywood Sites & Bites Tour. However, a customer is always welcome to book their friends and family for a private tour on any date that is mutually available for the tour guide and chocolate shops. There is special pricing for private tours, so if this interests you please call and let’s chat. Our tour vehicle, a Toyota Sienna seats seven maximum. But if your group will be larger than 7 guests and your budget will allow, I can rent a bigger vehicle and a certified driver for your private Chocolate Tour.
So if you were to join us on a current Chocolate Tour, you would be introduced to some of the most unique, tasty and beautiful chocolate products in West LA. That includes gluten-free and vegan goodies, and “other” variations of chocolate like red-velvet and white chocolate. I won’t give away the names and details of the tasty surprises, but my groups are treated to a peek inside a working kitchen, on most days get to meet one or more of the bakers/owners, and almost always get take-home goodies to share with family. The tour schedule allows time for shopping and I encourage guests to keep our vendors in mind for future chocolate cravings. And nothing makes me happier than when I run into a past guest shopping while we are on a tour. After all, isn’t that why you would take a Chocolate Tour? To find the best chocolate in Los Angeles!
By : Trish Procetto