No visit to Zürich would be complete without a visit to its most famous chocolate shop, the Sprüngli. And Mark and Susi would never let my visit go incomplete: so naturally, this afternoon we popped in to the establishment, for an experience of true and utter decadence. The highlight of the visit was the Luxemburgerli: divine little "buttons" of chocolate, best eaten fresh (i.e. within 24 hours of them being made), and filled with all manner of artery-clogging richness. Also incredible were the Truffles: each of these balls of chocolate comes in a variety from milky-white to dark brown, and is variously filled with rum, cream and liquid chocolate. The truffles kept me nourished for well over a week after.
There may not be many other reasons to visit Catania: but this alone should make the city a "must" for anyone in the area. While passing through Catania this morning, I stopped at a very upmarket cafe on the city's seashore promenade, that proudly advertises letting you choose from 32 different types of chocolate, to be used in making you a hot choc. I was sold in two seconds flat. I walked in, closed my eyes, picked a number, and ordered no. 17. I really doubt that it would have mattered which number I'd chosen, though: I'd say they were all just as divine as each other. I also ordered a truly decadent, cream-filled cannoli pastry — all this was about double the price of the average morning coffee stop; but hey, sometimes you just gotta live life, and love life.
Cioccolata calda is Italian for hot chocolate; and if there's one thing I've learned lately, it's that hot chocolate is indisputably Italian. Nobody makes a hot choccy like the Italians do. It's thick, it's sumptuous, and it satisfies every time. You can't get one at every coffee bar — sometimes you have to subsist on cappuccino — but since I'm not such a coffee man, I try and go hot choccy whenever it's available. It's becoming a tradition, during my Sicilian cycle trip: every day, for morning tea, find a cup of the stuff.
Home-made chocolates are a famous regional speciality of Bariloche. Although Argentina in general is not known for having great chocolate, this part of the country is an exception. This afternoon, I treated myself to two boxes of the stuff from Mamuschka, one of the finest chocolate boutiques in town. I managed to preserve one box, but the other one was devoured by the Patanuk crew for dessert this evening.
I tried some of these delicious gourmet Ica chocolates on this morning's wine and pisco tour. They were so good, I just had to buy some! Got a few gift packages, to send home — to whom, I'm not yet sure. But boy, do they melt in your mouth. Clearly, Ica is the place to go, if you want all things nice and tasty from Peru.
Went on a little morning tour today — briefly leaving our oasis paradise of Huacachina — to some of Ica's famous wineries and pisco-making places, as well as to the city's much-adored chocolate factory. Can't really say we left paradise, because it was a pretty daym pleasant tour we had: it's a hard life when you have to spend all morning sampling gourmet chocolates, rich red wines, and perfectly-distilled piscos.