Wellll the Richmond Chocolate Trail trip was kind of a dud. I'm not going to say it was a waste of time, because, hey, I came home with chocolate. But the day was rainy, many of the places were OUT of their free samples, and several stops weren't even food-related.
Exhibit A: The first stop on the list was a craft store, where the "chocolate sample" was a brown pin cushion. I'm not saying I don't love my pin cushion, but it makes me think maybe they should change the name of the chocolate trail to "Trail of Shops in Richmond That Will Give You Brown Things."
|It is a cute pin cushion.|
The real existential moment came when we stopped at a bakery on the list, the stop I'd been looking forward to all day. According to the Richmond Welcome Center's trail map, the sample was going to be a chocolate chip cookie – you guys know how I feel about cookies (see #020 and #015).
I skip out of the car and up the sidewalk to the bakery door. I had purposefully NOT bought a cookie at the last stop, even though they looked delicious, because I knew there was one waiting for me.
"We're on the chocolate tour!" I announce as I bust through the front door, all but rubbing my hands together in glee.
The woman behind the counter looks up.
"We're out of cookies."
It's all right. I still bought a chocolate tart.
There were some high points. At Olympian Candies, a family-run candy store that's been around since 1909, we tried some seriously good truffles and learned a few chocolate facts. Did you know that chocolate only has to be 51% chocolate to be labeled "pure?" At Olympian they use 100% chocolate, without any wax or paraffin, and every batch is hand-tempered. All I know is my vanilla cream truffle was 100% delicious.
|My friend Amanda deciding whether to buy 1 million or 2 million truffles.|
Then there was Ullery's Homemade Ice Cream, another family-run business, where we learned about the ice cream making process and tried some of their chocolate flavor. At Ullery's, one branch of the family is responsible for running the ice cream counter, and the other branches do events throughout Indiana and Ohio. You can tell their ice cream is homemade because it tastes exactly like the kind I used to make as a kid in the summer using our little ice cream maker.
We also enjoyed exploring the town of Richmond and nearby Hagerstown, Cambridge City, and Centerville. The rain let up enough that we could walk around some in the afternoon and check out a few of the antique stores and boutiques. One of the things I love about touristy "trails" like this (besides the free samples and the satisfaction of crossing things off your list) is that it's a great way to explore an area and visit local businesses. So the adventure made up for the fact that there was less chocolate than expected and no cookies – and I still managed to come home with plenty of truffles.
And that was my chocolate tour. If anybody knows of any other food-related trails with freebies, you should definitely let me know. In the meantime I'll be brainstorming some chocolate-related cards so I can try to get on the Trail of Shops in Richmond That Will Give You Brown Things.
Till next time!