Sunday, May 17, 2009

Chicago Chocolate Tour continued

Whew! I got up this am and went to Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House - more on that later. It's another gorgeous day in Chicago - albeit a little chillier than yesterday. But the sun is shining and it is spectacular.

I do have to share with you the key they gave me at check-in:

And this was left in my room today:

Ha, ha, ha! I love Candy Expo already!!

Okay - back to the Chocolate Tour! After More Cupcakes, we went to my favorite place on the tour - Sarah's Pastries and Candies (

Sarah Levy is the second Saint in the Church of Chocolate (that would be my C of C - I can't speak for those other C of Cer's - they'll have to find their own Saints). Sarah is in her 20's and is selling her candies and pastries to Macy's! She has it together - and her stuff ROCKS!!! She also is incredibly nice and amazingly humble. She has great energy and enthusiasm and I know if any of you met her you would like her. I wish I lived in ChiTown so I could eat her chocolate all the time and hang out with her!

I love the quote she has on the back of her business card:

"What you see before you, my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate." Katherine Hepburn

See how cool Sarah is?

She gave us samples of her chocolate delight: A delicious blend of milk chocolate, caramelized almonds, roasted pistachios and crispy rice. Can I just say "YUM!?" And her to die for brownies. The samples were so great, I had to buy a t-shirt, a box of chocolates, two cookies, and several more goodies. I say if you're going to go, go big!

Today I had her peanut butter square:

My only regret is that I didn't buy 4 or 5 hundred. These things are amazing. I don't know what the heck is in them, but there is something light and crunchy. Maybe some of that crispy rice? But they are also very peanut buttery. It's the perfect balance, because they are awesome, but not too heavy like most slabs of peanut butter would be. Ah.....

Then I tried her chocolate-almond toffee:

Also delicious. Sarah told me what she does differently is mix almonds in with the toffee as well as rolling the chocolate coated toffee in almonds. It really is fantastic. See why she is a C of C Saint? Sarah's confections are fantastic!!!!

As I try the rest of her stuff, I'll post more reviews.

From there we went to Lindt:

I love Lindt. I think their chocolate is smooth and creamy and fabulous. I love the way their stores are decorated (no fake flowers, lots of dark wood and shiny wrappers - love it!). Their sales people are nice and helpful. They have a frequent buyers program. I bought several things here which I will review in upcoming blogs. They gave us samples of their awesome white chocolate truffle with dark bits and a dark salted bar. Both delicious. Yay Lindt. (Boo teuscher again. Maybe I can start a Swiss war! Although that's not very C of C of me. But then again, there were all those Holy Wars.....hmmm....)

Crusades, anyone?

From there we went to Frango:

Now Frango used to be Marshall Field's signature candy, but Marshall Field's has been bought by Macy's. Frango is blobbed in with a lot of other chocolate brands here in Macy's candy department. And the Frango employees were completely lame. They gave us samples but acted like it was killing them. Actually one of the girls was okay but the other one was awful. I overheard her ask if she could go on break now. (Hello - how often does a chocolate tour come through, slack girl? Will working 15 more minutes kill you? I guess rolling your eyes and sighing IS pretty tiring.)

They gave us a sample of their famous mint and a new sea salt caramel:

Note the sea side box? Cute. I did buy a box of these because I am a sucker for the salt/caramel combo and these were pretty good. Not Chocolate Fetish good, but better than average. Frango also had some new flavors I would have liked to try - cherry almond, pomegranate pistachio - but I didn't want to buy a whole box. And it wasn't like Break Girl was helping me. Not many options, horrible customer service - look for Frango to disappear into candy history.

Our final stop was Argo Tea. Now, as usual, I was being judgemental and thinking this was a gyp. I didn't want tea, I wanted chocolate. And when we walked past Hershey and Ghirardelli stores to get there, I was even less happy. But, as usual, I was wrong. When will I learn to keep an open mind?

Here we sampled a double chocolate muffin (okay) and chocolate chai tea (fabulous). And doesn't this guy look like someone who should serve you chocolate chai tea?:

Ooops - there goes that judgemental thing!

The tour ended here and I, of course, headed straight to Hershey. The adventure picks up there tomorrow!! Big thanks to Valerie Beck and Heidi Holladay of Chicago Chocolate Tours for a great adventure!


Carole said...

You are making me jealous but I am so glad for you that you are in Chicago for awesome! Looking forward to catching up with you SOON!

Denise Ryan said...

Me too Carole!! It's been too dang long!!!

Ernest Moretti said...

So colorful and delicious looking ... a 'big kid' like me wants to eat too. I love chocolate. I enjoyed a recent trip on the chicago chocolate tour as part of a group work outing. Our tour guide was very helpful, knowledgeable and friendly. I think sarah's confections are fantastic. I'm a big fan chicago chocolate. I am very happy to visit your site. thank you for posting and sharing it.

Denise Ryan said...

Ernest- thanks so much for reading and for your comment!! Ican't wait to go back to ChiTown for more chocolate!! And I totally agree with all your comments!! Thanks!