Tuesday, September 25, 2012

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Chocolate


I recently told a friend that if anything bad ever happens in his life he should go to Island Chocolates(also known as The Chocolate Factory) and have a Factory Coffee.  And I meant it.  I would also recommend  it when celebrating or when you need a little break from the everyday, or anytime you happen to be anywhere near the Village of Victoria.  Really what I was trying to express to him is my deep and unfaltering love of all things Island Chocolates has on offer(especially the Factory Coffee -and yes, it does deserve capital letters.  It's just that good).  Victoria is a charmed spot as anyone who has spent anytime there will attest to.  And no matter how unlike you, you will utter the words 'How quaint.' or 'How charming.' at some point during a visit.
This lighthouse and boat vignette is both quaint and charming. See, it even happens to me.
The only decision I struggle with when I visit the village is this: Chocolate Factory first, or Chocolate Factory last?  Usually I try to figure out a way to do both.  'Maybe we should get our Factory Coffee's now before we wander around, and then we can go back and grab a few peppermint creams(my personal favorite) and fresh blueberry clusters later.'
Heaven?

I recently made my way to Main Street Victoria and spent some time poking around The Factory.  Now don't let the word 'factory' fool you.  This is all handmade on location super incredible 100% delicious chocolate.
Emma Gilbert busting out a tray of milk chocolate coconut clusters.


The Gilbert family has been refining their craft at the factory  for 25 delicious years now.  And they have something for just about everyone.  
Chocolate music

Chocolate games. Every year the Gilbert's  host a Chocolate Festival which includes a chocolate chess  tournament. 

Chocolate motorcycles. Yum.
Chocolate money!!
Chocolate birds.
This little guy obviously liked the chocolate fish!

Sigh.  Chocolate cameras!
The pictures speak for themselves really. Lots of deliciousness tempting you at every turn.  And the shop itself is full of vintage chocolate treasures.  Like this old Neilson's display.

The hard part is in the choosing:
Hand made selections. 
At one time the chocolate was 100% Belgium, but in recent years the selection has grown.  The Factory now offers bars made of chocolate from Cuba, Hawaii, Venezuela, Santo Domingo, Ecuador, and France.  Eric Gilbert says he is most proud of the product from Ecuador as he had a hand in every step of the process from harvesting and fermenting right through to drying and roasting the beans, blending the recipe and finally tempering the chocolate.  If you enjoy watching handsome bearded men wielding machetes in the jungle(and who doesn't?) then check out this Youtube  video of Eric opening cacao pods and removing the beans.  It really helps you appreciate chocolate as an art when you see how far the finished product comes from it's humble pod beginnings.
Which brings us to:  The Factory Coffee.  A glass of hot, delicious, drool inducing, coffee and chocolate loveliness.  To begin:

First your glass is coated in your choice of milk or dark chocolate.  Then they add their special blend of dark roast coffee.  Let's pause a moment and regroup.  Lovely melted 100% Belgium chocolate lining your glass, topped with fresh hot dark coffee.  What more do you need?  What more could there possibly be?
Whipped cream anyone?  Chocolate sprinkles anyone? Little cute nautical themed chocolate on top of your whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles anyone? Yes and Yesser!
I would marry one of these bad boys if it was legal(does anyone know the laws around this? Could I in fact marry one of these bad boys?).
You see?  The greatest heart healing, soul reviving, taste bud titillating treat.  Only one question remains: Do you stir your chocolate in to your coffee? Or wait until the end and scrape it out with your spoon?

 I have to be 100% honest here and admit I have a history with the Gilberts and their Chocolate Factory.  Many years back I was lucky enough to be employed by them(as was my sister for many years).  I rolled out fruit creams and listened to talk radio for hours.  I answered the question "How do you work here and stay so skinny?" a bazillion times a day(I counted once).  And it in my mind it remains one of the best Summer jobs I ever had.
Me, admiring a picture of me that still graces the walls. 
So, if you are lucky enough to live on PEI, or happen to be visiting our beautiful little Island, go to Victoria, and plan to go off your diet.  But try not to worry about it, your soul will be refreshed, your taste buds will be happy, and the world looks good through a chocolate haze.

Of particular note - this year's Chocolate Festival is Saturday SEPTEMBER 15th!! Check out the Factory's facebook page and website for details and pics of festivals past.

Get thee to Victoria! And save me a seat in the sun.