I haven’t gotten on board with the Groupon craze–my Groupon emails keep getting caught in my spam filter–but many of my girlfriends are taking advantage of the restaurant deals, and they do let me in on the particularly interesting ones. Earlier this summer, two friends signed up for a Groupon for a DC Metro Chocolate Tour and bought enough tickets for six of us. When they were picking a date I was less than enthusiastic, having just come back from my walking tour-filled vacation which included a stop at the Lindt Schokoladen Museum. When they reminded me that the Groupon deal was 1/2 price, I decided that the $25 would be worth it for a fun outing with my friends–a daytime version of the chocolate class we took last fall. I was not disappointed!
We started at Sprinkles Cupcakes, where they reminded us that they were the original cupcake store.
Other interesting tidbits: they use Belgian chocolate in their recipes, no artificial ingredients (except for a bit of red food coloring for the red velvet variety), and donate all cupcakes left at the end of the day to local food banks.
We each had a mini dark chocolate cupcake (generously frosted with chocolate ganache!) and made our way to our next stop: Baked & Wired.
I am familiar with this place, because it is dangerously close to my office. I was excited to hear that we were going to be tasting their brownies, because they are sooo goood, and I’d been suffering through a mad brownie craving since Friday!
Our tour guide knew we needed a break from chocolate consumption, so we sat in the shade while she gave us a brief cocoa history lesson. Then she took us to Lush.
At first we were confused, but then we remembered that many skin care products include cocoa butter, like the Lush massage bars. My sore ITB and tender calves insisted on getting a Wiccy Magic Muscles Massage Bar. Bonus: since the bar is solid, I can take in the airplane without worrying about leakage, breakage, or the TSA 3-1-1 rules!
Moving back into the edible chocolate genre, our next stop was at The Spice & Tea Exchange. We tasted cocoa nibs, chocolate salt, chocolate sugar, and chocolate tea. I am not a big tea drinker, but the chocolate tea (a black tea variety) was very nice!
Our next stop was a classic–the Godiva store.
They told us a bit about the history of the company, including some Lady Godiva lore, gave us samples of one of their barks, and gave us “goody bags” with truffles to take home.
After that, we made our way to the “other” cupcake place, Georgetown Cupcake.
Luckily our tour guide had made a call-ahead order, so we didn’t have to wait in the line that literally was out the door and to the end of the block!
We sampled mini red velvet cupcakes–the cream cheese frosting has just the right tang!
For our last stop, we trekked to Fleurir to learn about their “hand grown chocolates. This is a new family business, and the parents of the owners hosted us because their son was on vacation. They explained that they use only Valharona chocolate, and gave us samples of the 85% “feves” that they use to make their chocolates. They talked about their different bars and their different ingredients, and gave us samples of their Great Plains Bar, which includes crumbs of buttered, salted bread in a dark chocolate blend–similar but more subtle than a bar with rice crisps.
They also gave us each one of their salted caramel truffles–OMG! That was the BEST EVER! I’m glad I had saved that for later, because I would have cleaned out their supply. As it was, I left with a Northwest Bar (maple pecan toffee in a dark chocolate blend) and a Southwest Bar (spicy chili and cinnamon in a dark chocolate blend).
Throughout our tour, our tour guide gave mini-lectures on chocolate–from how it is grown and made, to its early and more recent history. I was the lucky winner of the trivia question, which means I also took home a Lindt chocolate bar.
What year did Mars get a patent on M&Ms? 1941
(We couldn’t believe the irony of asking this question to a group that included 4 patent attorneys, but none of us knew the answer!)
Now that I’ve done the tour, I would probably say that it was worth the $25 Groupon price, especially since it got six girlfriends together for a few hours of chocloatey fun.
Are you a Groupon user?
Have you used a Groupon for a tour or class?