’75 Minutes of Chocolate Heaven’
Just off the Royal Mile, you can now dive into Edinburghâ€™s brand new chocolate experience: making it, tasting it, and learning all about its origins.
Let’s get the most important question over with first: yes, you can spend a significant amount of your tour eating chocolate. You’ll be encouraged, if not urged, to taste it; in fact, your experience starts with your own pot of liquid chocolate and a spoon…
Our guide, Anika, began with a map of the world and a few fascinating facts about the origins of the cocoa bean – I bet you can’t guess which country isn’t wet enough to grow the bean? And do you know which country eats the most chocolate? And (far more surprising to me) which eats the least per capita?
In The Kitchen, Anika explained the basics of chocolate-making, including the production of cocoa oil and how and why the product is tempered – and then it was over to us to make our own. Mini moulds of Edinburgh Castle, Greyfriars Bobby, the Lochness Monster…all we had to do was pour in the melted chocolate and mix in whatever flavours (there were 25 different ones) we fancied.
I went all sophisiticated with mango and chilli; the nine year old chose an assortment: mint, raspberry, crisped rice, orange pieces and milk choclate curls (the picture is his). It really was like being a child in a sweetshop, and from the youngest to the oldest visitor – and there was a range – everyone was enjoying the fun.
The Tasting Room was next: four different types of chocolate from sweet to bitter, plus even a few ruby buttons, and it was interesting to discover how different a 70% cocoa chocolate from, say, Venezuala, tastes so different to the same from Guatemala.
The nine year old couldn’t believe his luck when we were then invited to browse the shelves and choose another four chocolates. Rhubarb and ginger; gin and tonic, haggis; whisky…Your choice. (And much of it is vegan, too).
Jenny, the founder of the Chocolatarium, was inspired by her time spent in the rainforests of Ecuador. Via The Chocolate Tour, she’s aiming to bring the story of cocoa, and the lives of the South American growers, directly to us, in a fun and accessible way. It’s certainly that!
Recommended for ages 8+, the tours run from Wednesdays to Sundays at 10am and 2.30pm. They last 75 minutes – although ours ran closer to 90: it seems you can’t hurry people choosing their chocolate!
The Chocolatarium, 3-5 Cranston Street, Edinburgh. Tel 0131 556 7005