Our trip to Germany last fall fell, conveniently (or not so conveniently, depending on how you look at it) over my birthday. However, as I was pregnant at the time, my usual indulgence of choice - a good, dry, German Riesling - was off the table (well, mostly, I will admit that I imbibed in one small glass over dinner). So what's a pregnant woman to do on the day she turns 30 when she cannot freely partake in the consumption of wine?! The next best thing of course - eat chocolate!
Sorry for the poor quality pictures. They were taken with a cell phone and not our nice camera.
As Germany's capital and largest city, there are hundreds of things to see and do in Berlin. From the zoo to Brandenburg gate, you'll be hard-pressed to find yourself bored in the city. But if you have the time, and a deep love for chocolate, head over to the Rittersport store. Here, you'll find every variety of chocolate bar that Rittersport makes, even the limited edition ones. Some of my favorites are the dark chocolate, hazlenut, and praline bars. Of course, you can buy most of the varieties in German grocery stores, so why would you bother with a visit to the flagship store? Because there, you can make your own chocolate bar - any way you want it!
The Rittersport store sits just off a main road, not far from Gendarmenmarkt plaza. It's a narrow building; most of the facade is windows but is broken up by white tiling and bold, blue letters spelling out "Bunte Shokowelt," Colorful Chocolate World, above a pennant bearing a kaleidoscope of colors. The square motif, for which Ritter chocolate bars are known, is repeated throughout the store in all the brightest colors. Walking in, it should come as no surprise when the overwhelming scent of chocolate hits your nose. The reason for our visit - the custom chocolate bar - is conveniently located just to the right as you enter.
Now, maybe it's because we've been out of the country for over a year and I'm losing touch with the German Way, but we weren't quite sure how to go about actually procuring said custom chocolate bar. I'll save you the distress of trying to figure it out and just tell you - you purchase first and then tell the chocolatiers what you want in it. There are two size options - 100g (3.90 Euro) or 250g (7.90 Euro); four chocolate choices - milk, white, and dark, or a mixture of any two ; and probably 20 or so additions available. I'll give you one guess as to which size I chose. The "add-ins" range from cocoa nibs to hazelnuts to pink peppercorns. For mine, I chose strawberry pieces, cocoa nibs and almonds. I wanted dark chocolate, but they were out, so I settled for milk chocolate instead. They mix it all together, put it in the mold, and then in a refrigerator to chill it. At this point, I expected to be handed my chocolate bar. But, it wasn't quite ready yet. It had to chill and set in the mold; a process which takes about a half hour. I was handed a little ticket with a number on it and told to wait. Turns out, this is a perfect time to stock up on your other Rittersport favorites, purchase gifts for friends back home, and to enjoy a chocolate snack in the cafe on the third floor. After the time is up, we headed back to the counter, handed them our ticket and watched them as they knocked the chocolate bar our of the mold, wrap it up, and hand it over to my eagerly awaiting hands. At which point, I put it in the stroller and we continued on our merry way.
Just kidding. I gently opened the package, peeled back the celophane, and gingerly broke off a square to taste my creation. And it was heavenly! The perfect self-gift for a milestone birthday!