No visit to Zurich is truly complete until you’ve eaten some chocolate; that would be like going to Rome and not having pasta. But there’s chocolate and then there’s CHOCOLATE, even in Switzerland, and with so much of it on offer, it’s hard to know where to start.
Luckily help is at hand in the form of a very unusual tour of the city, one that foregoes normal sights in favour of flavour. Sweet Zurich takes you by the tongue and guides you to four delectable places in the city centre, ones that you’d probably would never find on your own.
The tour was started a few years ago by Kerrin Rousset, a food and travel writer from New York with a taste for chocolate and an eye for detail. She wanted to take people beyond brand names like Lindt, so she became her own guide around the artisan chocolate shops and sweet stops that aren’t in most guidebooks. I joined a tour to taste the difference.
First stop was Honold, one of the oldest and finest chocolatiers, where we got our first taste of pralines and truffles – and hot chocolate made from the real deal, not powder. My favourite was a raspberry truffle that simply melted in my mouth, though the house speciality is a grape soaked in cognac for a year, then wrapped in chocolate and dipped in icing sugar. Definitely one for grown-ups!
Next up Max Chocolatier, a boutique that exuded both style and substance. Here our minds were tested alongside our palates, as we grappled with existential questions like ‘Is white chocolate really chocolate?’ or ‘How do you taste chocolate properly?' while popping little buttons of black magic into our eager mouths. Oh, and those thin squares of salted caramel encased in 68% chocolate – they were sublime.
Across the river to Aeschbach, a shop that knows how to have fun. The board outside stated ‘A day without chocolate is like champagne without bubbles;’ this day was turning into a very bubbly one. The trademark pralines here are ‘cherry blossoms,’ steeped in kirsch and so not for the faint-hearted.
Kerrin Rousset, founder of the Sweet Zurich tour
Last stop was something completely different: Cupcake Affair. These handmade cakes are little pieces of heaven topped with a cloud of sweet icing, and come in all manner of flavours. Our pick was Marilyn Monroe, a dark chocolate cake with suitably pink raspberry topping.
The time flew by in a sugary rush and before we knew it, this wonderful walking tour was over. Two and half hours of delectation and information: we learnt about conching as we tested the results, and discussed milk versus dark as both melted in our mouths.
‘Normal’ chocolate will never quite taste the same again.