Monday, September 7, 2009

Sweet, Sweet Chocolate

This week, you are going to win half a million dollars in the lottery. It's not enough for anyone to care about, so nobody will bother you. Enjoy your winnings!

This week, the Hofbrau Brewery people will open their first Canadian beergarden franchise a ten minute walk from where you live.

This week in Mary Worth, Dr. Jeff Cory will throw Ol' Mare over his knee and give her a damm good spanking.

Ahhh....fantasies. They help make our lives so much more interesting. And some of them even have a hope of coming true.

This week, I'm going to enjoy some incredible, wonderful, TASTY chocolate from Europe. Actually, I enjoyed some of it earlier today, and there's more in store for tomorrow and beyond, thanks to a shopping spree I made earlier this summer in Berlin, Germany to my all-time favourite chocolate store, Fassbender & Rausch. Wow Oh Wow, is the chocolate there ever good.

There it is, at Charlottenstrasse 60, at the corner of Mohrenstrasse (Berlin's Stadtmitte U-Bahn station entrance is directly behind me, so it's easy to get to). This was once "East" Berlin - Checkpoint Charlie is actually a block ahead and just around the corner a bit - and the Fassbender & Rausch Chocolatiers have been doing their thing for over a century now.
Once inside the shop, you are met by a series of truly remarkable displays of chocolate products, featuring various degrees of cocoa content, from around the world, in a variety of shapes, sizes, and wrappers. It's a delight to spend the first several minutes of a visit just wandering up and down the aisles!
Yes, that's a chocolate Brandenberg Gate by the front door! They also have a chocolate Reichstag, a chocolate Titanic, and an erupting chocolate volcano, among other displays.
This is MY favourite display of the lot. Rows and rows of solid chocolate bars, ranging from silky milk chocolate to very intense and bitter high-cocoa content bars. You can get small, medium, or giant bars, or in stick format if you prefer. Each bar is named for the part of the world where its cocoa is harvested. They also sell variety packs, featuring a little square sample of each brand, allowing you to try each kind at your leisure. Yummy!

Fassbender & Rausch offer all kinds of gift packages, as well as individually wrapped chocolates with all kinds of flavours and fillings. They even have a cafe upstairs where you can enjoy a Hot Chocolate and a suitably sweet dessert!

Here we see Pauline ringing up my order and wondering if she's got enough bags to handle the amount of stuff I'm buying! Pauline lived in America for a time, and is great fun to talk with. Thanks for looking after me! Of course, it's a lot more relaxing shopping here in the summer than at Christmastime, when I imagine the place is very, very hectic.

I've enjoyed chocolate from Belgium, Switzerland, other parts of Germany, Britain (yea, Cadbury World!), France, the Netherlands, Austria and of course the United States (BIG shout-out to See's, another huge fave!), but this is the Mother Ship of Chocolate Wonderfulness for me and a Must-Stop every time I visit Berlin (well, 11 times and counting). If you get to visit Berlin one day, take a half-hour and have a wander into Fassbender & Rausch for a wonderful European, German, Berlin shopping experience. Even if you just buy one bar for the road, take time to breathe in deeply. Ahhh, REAL chocolate.

NEXT: Munich Beer Adventures!

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