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Travel to a candy kingdom this Valentine’s Day

February 12, 2014 OTA News No Comments Email Email

Dublin, Ireland
The shrine to St Valentine is an appropriate, if macabre, place to start Cheapflight’s hunt for sweets for your sweet for lovers’ favourite saint day.

The Carmelite church on Whitefriar Street Dublin claims to hold “the sacred bones” of the saint of things romantic, and Ireland has some sweet treats ranging from sinful Bailey’s and Guiness flavoured chocolates to sweetie shamrocks.  The recently-established Butler’s Chocolate Cafés are dotted around the city or for something more traditional, head to Aunty Nellies and their wall of candy jars for an old style pick’n’mix experience, hunting out Glucose Barleys, Rosey Apples and traditional Peggy’s Legs.

Amsterdam, Netherlands
The capital of The Netherlands has longstanding associations with candy as a major cocoa and sugar importer – and home of the cocoa press. But if you’re looking for some particularly Dutch tastes, head for the Albert Cuyp Market for StroopWafels to balance on your coffee; or Zout, ‘salty’, Licorice.  For sheer garishness and out-of-this-world candy craziness – and lots of psychedelic smilies – Amsterdam’s Candy Freaks is hard to beat. Offering natural, organic, sugar-free, Gelatine-free, Dairy-free vegetarian and vegan varieties you could almost claim it was a health store.

In Amsterdam style, for the broader-minded there are ‘novelty candies’ – including candy bras, phallus marshmallows, liquorice boobs and even candy breast tassels. Who says sweets aren’t the way to your partner’s, um, heart?

Brussels, Belgium
We’re bringing out the big guns and headed for Brussels, Belgium next.   Leonidas, Neuhaus and Godiva are the big boys – but if you’re after truly Bons bon bons, gourmets will point you in the direction of artisan praline producers.  Pierre Marcolini and Royal Warrant-holder, Mary are rated amongst the best chocolatiers in Belgium. Cheap they’re not – but at least you can satisfy yourself (and your loved one) with a pure chocolate experience.  Fancy something educational and tasty? Try the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate.
Paris, France
Home to Nougat, Marrons Glaces (glazed chestnuts), Valrhona Chocolate and, more recently, the acquired taste that is chocolate ‘olives’, France has lots of sweet treasures.

For an iconic sugar hit in romantic surrounds try  French Macarons at Laduree, Paris. Largely responsible for re-inventing (or at least popularising) the ‘macaron’, the famous patisserie features flavours including blackcurrant and violet, rose petal, soft caramel and sea salt – and liquorice.

Switzerland
Famously neutral it may be – but Switzerland is still fighting its corner in the battle for chocolate capital of the world. Producer of the first milk chocolate, it’s home to a host of popular brands including Nestle, Lindt, Ricola and Toblerone.

If you’re planning a trip climb aboard the sugar rush express, AKA the Swiss Chocolate Train. With a stop in Gruyeres (home of the famous cheese) your ultimate destination is Broc for the Maison Cailler chocolate factory.

Oaxaca, Mexico
Europe may have refined the production and artistry of chocolate, but Mexico is said to have played a crucial role in its evolution; indeed the Mayan and Aztec peoples gave it near-religious significance. If you’re looking for the roots of chocolate, pay a visit to one of the food markets of Oaxaca City in the South-eastern state of Oaxaca, where you can sample fragrant hot drinking chocolate, often spiced with cinnamon and almond and sometimes served with pan de yema (eggy bread).  Alternatively, visit the chocolate producers of the famed street 20 de Noviembre where you can choose the ingredients (or even bring your own) for a customised chocolate hit.

Tokyo, Japan
Japan has a sometime reputation for adapting inventions to the next level. The latest enhancement candidate? The humble Kit Kat. Now Tokyo’s Seibu Department store has opened a specialist outlet selling seasonal gourmet editions of the iconic four-fingered wafer.

Its first three limited editions are ‘Sublime Bitter’ made with high-end couverture chocolate, Special Cherry Blossom Green Tea and Special Chili with a pepper cream filling.

Kit Kat already has a special Kyoto Kit Kat variety, the garishly-green 2-fingered Matcha Green Tea; a sweet hit with a bitter tea after taste.

Los Angeles, USA
If you’re look for some appropriate glitz and showmanship with your sugar rush, why not drop in on the tinsel town of Candy Stores – Sweet! of Hollywood (or is that Lollywood) Boulevard, described as ‘the sweet spot for sweeties’ or ’30,000 square foot of candy craziness’ with 300 types of chocolate bar and 250 types of lollipops.  it also claims to have the world’s fastest gumball machine – powered by a life-size red Ferrari.  The shop has its own nod to sweet celluloid moments with a wall-to-wall marshmallow section featuring the Stay Puft marshmallow man from the 1984 film, Ghostbusters! The Forever Valentine’s section enables you to shop for your sweet all year long.

Canada
Our Canadian sugar hit fix embodies iconic elements for which the nation is best known: the Maple and very cold weather. Yes we’re talking Maple Taffy or ‘Sugar on Snow’ Eaten from Eastern Ontario to Quebec (where it’s called Tire d’erable) it’s produced by boiling maple sap to a thick liquid which is then poured directly on to snow where it thickens. Just wait for that perfect moment when it’s cooled but still soft and scoop up on a stick or fork.

India
Fancy giving your loved one something small, shiny and jewel-like but feeling the pinch in your wallet? Indian sweets (Mithai) covered in thin layer of edible silver or gold leaf – Varakh – may be the answer.  The shiny leaf commonly covers ubiquitous Barfi sweets. Available across India, they’re made of condensed milk and sugar flavoured with fruit, nuts and exotic spices. The edible silver is considered an astringent and the gold an aphrodisiac in some parts.

New Zealand
Perky Nanas, Pineapple Lumps and chocolate ‘fush’, New Zealand has it’s fair share of distinctly different sweets.   Sheep have always been the butt of many jokes across the Tasman but it’s the range of shitty candy that capture’s worldwide attention with ‘Sheep Droppings’ and ‘Kiwi Poo’ (or chocolate-covered peanuts and raisins) proving to be best sellers in souvenir shops all over the country.

London, England
The West End department stores have extensive ranges and impressive displays: check out Selfridges for Artisan du Chocolat’s hot chocolate and specialist bars range; with flavours including Masala Chai, Mole Chili, Orchid & Orange blossom – or, mix your vices and go for the Tobacco option.  But if you’re looking for that unique gift for your loved one, take a look at Harrods or Piccadilly’s Fortnum & Mason which offer Colombian Chocolate covered Ants (they taste like peppery peanuts apparently – except with six legs) or Antlix lollipops.

For candy Aficionados of all sorts the city’s Covent Garden area is worth a visit. Hope & Greenwood is a new-fashioned sweet and homeware shop where, alongside flying saucers and Jelly cherry hearts, you’ll find newer treats like strawberry and ice cream candy floss. The area is also home to one of Hotel Chocolat’s flagship stores which roasts cocoa beans onsite, features a Cocoa Bar cafe and alongside all sorts of edibles, a range of cocoa-scented perfumes. Alternatively, get yourself over to the company’s Cocoa-themed restaurant, Rabot 1745. Rabbit and white chocolate mash with a chocolate cocktail on the side, anyone? But if you’re looking for something a bit more unusual on the taste side try the much-heralded Artisan chocolatier Paul A Young who has a store in nearby Soho which offers a smorgasbord of unusual and iconic taste combinations including chocolate and stilton – and Marmite truffles.

 

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