Travel the World Through Chocolate, Starting in Chicago

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Sometimes journalists get sneak peeks into concepts still in development. The Platinum LEED-certified green manufacturing and chocolate lifestyle house under construction in Chicago, Illinois, is just such a place.

Photo credit: Wikimedia.

Part of the industrial complex that produces Vosges Haut-Chocolat, 2950 North Oakley Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, it will include all sorts of visitor magnets including a café, factory tours, garden and event space. While the shop and factory face Oakley Avenue, the “lifestyle” area will front the North Branch of the Chicago River.

It was introduced to a group of travel writers who were covering IPW, a trade show sponsored by Brand USA to showcase America destinations to travel agents and tour operators from around the globe. I’d held off on writing about it, hoping it would be finished — but it isn’t yet. You can only dream about getting the inside story on Vosges Haut-Chocolat.

Definitely not candy for kids, this company produces high-end chocolates flavored with everything from the expected (bacon? beer?) to the never-heard-of-before (lucuma? maca?). (Some of the flavorings are in the photo, above.)

Katrina Markoff (Vosge’s founder and CEO) puts it this way, the “fusion of indigenous spices, flowers, roots, herbs and liqueurs with premium chocolate creates a sensory experience that nurtures awareness of and appreciation for the world’s diverse cultures”.

During our tour, we sampled all sorts of flavors combined with chocolate, including paprika, chilies, cardamon and curry blends as well as peanut butter, marshmallow and caramel.

Since you can’t take that tour yet, the next best thing is a candy sampling. Vosges Haut-Chocolat has shops in Chicago, New York City, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. And, Chicago is a great foodie city.

What to order? Now there’s a First World problem. The super dark truffle collection includes baobab (yes, from baobab fruit), blackstrap (as in molasses), turmeric, rosemary, E3 (blue green algae + chia seeds + pink Himalayan salt) and almond.

This is “heart healthy” dark chocolate plus bee pollen, pineapple, muira puama bark, manuka honey and other superfoods. Or, as Vosges says it, “Everything you’d expect from a decadent chocolate truffle, with health benefits you wouldn’t.”

What about a “Library of Exotic Chocolate Bars”? These 12-bar boxes that look like books are tasting collections. Or the Milk & Dark Chocolate Truffle Collection. Or the Bapchi’s Caramel Toffee. Or….

 

Susan McKee
Susan McKee is an independent scholar and freelance journalist specializing in history, culture and travel. She honed her craft as a general assignment reporter for more than a decade at a major metropolitan daily newspaper before fleeing corporate journalism for the peripatetic life of a freelancer.

Susan writes for a wide variety of publications, both print and online. Bylines have appeared in Global Traveler USA, JaxFax, HGTV's Front Door, Global Foodie and Road Trips for Foodies.
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