Walk n’ Choc – Tales of the intentional and accidental chocolate tourist
Where the road less travelled by foot often leads to chocolate
There’s something about chocolate. When travelling abroad in unfamiliar territory, a piece of comfort helps ease the journey. And when you travel you have to eat too. Enter chocolate. It provides on both counts, like an edible hug to help sustain you physically and emotionally while on the road.
Now that chocolate on my travels is a ‘thing’, I do purposely seek out places of chocolate significance. However, it’s the unexpected chocolate encounters that prove most memorable. I ain’t no Columbus but there’s something exciting about ‘discovering’ a place for the first time. Well it’s my first time anyways. It’s coming across a chocolate shop when and where you least expect it: gourmet artisan chocolate shops in New Zealand; a café serving tiramisu and other chocolate delights in Gondar, Ethiopia; the Che Guevara chocolate factory in Cuba; to name but a few with many more I have yet to ‘discover’.
Originally I had gone to New Brunswick with the intention of partaking in the chocolate festival in St. Stephen but it was in Shediac that I became the accidental chocolate tourist. I was driving along Main Street en route to the Pointe-de-Chêne wharf to see the Homarus Eco-centre. And then I spotted it.
It was Adorable and it promised chocolate! I rushed through the lobster display and drove back in time to pick up some goodies. If you are on foot, you can leisurely stroll along the stores and restaurants lining Main street, the city’s central thoroughfare. As you head toward the hub of Main you’ll pass by Adorable. Stop in for some chocolate refreshments. They serve drinks and ice cream in addition to chocolate truffles.
Shediac is the “lobster capital of the world” with giant lobster statue to match.
The French influence can be seen, heard and tasted here. If you don’t speak French you will quickly learn-especially when ordering food when you’re really hungry. Or at least you’ll pick up a few basics:
chocolate = chocolat
ice cream = crème glacé
The first Monday in August is a provincial holiday in New Brunswick named, aptly enough, New Brunswick Day. It is a day to celebrate local achievements, history and culture. What better way to celebrate than to recognize the accomplishments of the Ganong brothers. Their company is considered “…Canada’s oldest independently family owned and operated chocolate company, manufacturing all its products in St. Stephen, New Brunswick.”
Retrieved September 26th, 2015 from https://ganong.com/our-sweet-story/
It was here that I was the intentional chocolate tourist.
St. Stephen is a very small town, with its ‘downtown’ easily navigable by foot. The day I went was New Brunswick Day. A farmers’ market was set up in the grassy area opposite the tourist information bureau and the Chocolate Festival, which has been running since 1984, was holding a fun run/walk.
The route was 5km long and it looked like I was the only one walking it. Without a route map and with the running participants leaving me behind in their dust, I got lost a couple of times but managed to find my way along the ill-marked path.
The route started at the Ganong Chocolate Park, along the river front where chocolate mud sparkled in the sunshine, then circumnavigated the city centre before ending at the Ganong Chocolate Museum.
How à propos!
The week-long Chocolate Festival is held annually the beginning of August. Family and chocoholic friendly events, activities and entertainment are held in honour of Canada’s official chocolate town of St. Stephen and the “food of the gods”, Theobroma.
Note: From Greek, theos = god and brõma = food. Theobroma cacao is the name given to the chocolate-yielding cacao tree.
This holiday Monday I lucked out!
My gluttony for the day:
- chicken bone cream
- maple cream
- peppermint cream
- oatmeal chocolate cookie
- chocolate cake with chicken bones
- banana oatmeal chocolate chip cookie
The Museum chronicled the history of the Ganong enterprise whose original factory was this museum site. There’s an interactive section on chocolate 101, a few videos and an area where you can watch the ‘candy ladies’ hand dip chocolates. This is a very tedious process! I speak from experience.
Ganong confections are more candy than chocolate but the samples at the museum are free and free-flowing. Signature confections are the chicken bone (cinnamon and chocolate cream) and the Pal-o-Mine, a candy bar with fudge, peanuts and chocolate.
Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie is a poem by Henry Longfellow, an American poet. Acadie denotes the French settlement in this region. Here is a chocolate tribute to the title character, Evangeline.
I capped off the day by sitting at the river side under a cool shady tree, staring at the ‘other side’. The frontier town of Calais Maine just kisses the Canadian border at St. Stephen. With a belly full of chocolate, I ate my cleansing lunch of hummus and veggie wrap purchased from one of the few local businesses open on New Brunswick Day.
I can now say that I’ve been there, done that and even got a chocolate t-shirt to prove it!
Until the next chocolate adventures…
Yours truly, the Itinerant Introvert©