Eating-up Stratford
Bite by Byte

Friday, July 23, 2010

Choc-in' Up Brownie Points on the Stratford Chocolate Trail

FRED: You can't eat before a performance. It gives you indigestion. 
LILI: It's my stomach, thank you. Bring it in, Suzanne.
FRED: You'll not burp during my love scenes. Take it away! 
LILI: Suzanne, don't you dare.
(Cole Porter, Kiss Me, Kate)

Over the years, I've come to learn that one of the best ways to get to my wife Lisa's heart is through her sweet tooth.

How perfect for me, then, when two fateful happenings simultaneously occurred this week: the launching of the brand-new Stratford Chocolate Trail, and our scoring two tickets to the Stratford Festival's Thursday night production of Cole Porter's raucous musical comedy Kiss Me, Kate

Lisa thought I was off to gorge on sweets all day, as I visited 8 of the 16 possible stops along this Chocolate Scavenger Hunt... She didn't know I was saving them all for her!
Well, almost all. At the first place I visited, Trattoria Fabrizio, owner/chef Teresa offered me a house-made chocolate gelato, then topped if off special for me with a white chocolate, pistachio and cranberry biscotti (photo above. Sorry Lisa, but this one would've melted before it got home...). From the dessert alone I can tell why this authentic family-run Italian bistro has been in business in Stratford for over 20 years - I can't wait to come back for a pasta dinner!
Next, it was around the corner to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, where chocolatier Tom presented me with a whole display case of fudge to pick from: Creamsicle, Grand Marnier, Oreo Cookie, Tiramisu, Maple Walnut... the choices were endless. I opted for the Creme de Menthe fudge, and my "box of chocolates" for the ultimate date was underway.
The Kitchen Connaisseur is one of the best places in town to go for sauces (their curry cream sauce is the best) and condiments. Everyone who visits them on the Chocolate Trail will receive a jar of their gorgeous Chocolate Mocha sauce (which you can taste from their expansive sampling table along with all their other delicious products).  
P'lovers is Stratford's "Environmental Store". Those who stop here on the Chocolate Trail will receive eco-conscious-yet-oh-so-indulgent chocolate bath salts!
Next it was over to MacLeod's Scottish Shop. Having lived for a year in the country that brought the world the Deep Fried Mars Bar, I am well aware of the Scots' particular penchant for chocolate sweeties. I was given a stick of real Edinburgh rock candy and a genuine British Flaky bar (you mix the batter & I'll fire up the deep fryer Lisa!).
Visiting Chocolate Barr's Candies for the first time was a revelation. I'm not sure that "chocolatier" is necessarily the right title for Derek Barr. With his inspired flavour combinations and precise geometric presentations, I think of him more as a chef who prefers to work with confection as his medium. It was hard to choose two truffles from the case, as they were all works of art! I was tempted to try Milk Chocolate Sea Salt or Lavender, but ended up going with a creative savoury Balsamic truffle and a hot-and-sweet chili pepper truffle. But before I left, Derek hooked me up with a sample of one of his unique Habanero  dark chocolate ice wine jellies (so good, I'm thinking a box of assorted ice wine dark chocolate jellies is just the thing for  next Valentine's Day).
Treasures is a great little gift shop, where alongside local artisans' creations one can also find the cheeky, only-in-Stratford t-shirt: "To Beiber, or not to Beiber?" I was awarded a generous bag of Chocolate Covered Almond Brittle made especially for the store by the local Jenny's Peanut Brittle, which I added to my ever-growing stash.
No one embarking on the Chocolate Trail should neglect visiting my final stop on the tour, the granddaddy of Stratford's chocolate making industry, Rheo Thompson Candies. This is Lisa's favourite place of all time for chocolates (it's not Christmas if our house doesn't have a box of mint smoothies!), so I knew that the selection of beautiful filled chocolates they're offering the Trailblazers was sure to please. 

So, what was Lisa's reaction when I presented her with my selection of the best chocolate Stratford has to offer before our big date to see Kiss Me, Kate?
PETRUCHIO: And lovely Lisa, where are you, Lisa? You gave a new meaning to the leaning tow'r of Pisa.
(Cole Porter, Kiss Me, Kate)

1 comment:

  1. Isn't the Chocolate Trail just yummy? I'm planning to give trail passes to friends for birthday prezzies--how better to celebrate anything than with a feast of gelato, chocolate cake and truffles washed down with a choco martini??!! We hope that Lisa enjoys her chocolate covered almond and cran brittle!
    Jackie, Treasures, Stratford