Greetings dear readers! We hope you are all enjoying a very exuberant Independence Day weekend! This week, we have wonderful news. Our dear Bunny is once again back in Chicago for a little visit in between investigations into a sunken pirate ship deep in the depths of Lake Michigan! So when XperienceDays.com contacted Our Ladies with the opportunity to try one of the amazing experiences they offer, Bunny thought it might be the perfect chance to re-aquatint herself with Chicago.
XperienceDays.com host an amazing array of luxury experiences that make for great gifts, exciting dates, or even a super treat for your self. Among the many packages available for Chicago (XperienceDays.com also hosts over 2000 experience packages for cities all across the country) were things like bike, segway, and walking tours of various parts of the city, various cruises down Lake Michigan and the Chicago River (including a brunch cruise!), art classes, NASCAR racing classes, and even one package that would let one have a simulated dog fight in a WWI replica flyer. As appealing as hot air balloon rides, song writing workshops, and helicopter tours sound, Bunny naturally gravitated towards the food related experiences, which included things like pizza tasting tours, beer tasting tours, and even cooking classes. After much deliberation, she settled on the Chicago Chocolate Tour of the Magnificent Mile.
The tour began at the Shoppes at 900 N. Michigan where the group met their endlessly cheerful tour guide, who helped them to learn a little about the history and manufacturing process of chocolate. Going upstairs to the 5th floor, the tour began properly at Teuscher Chocolates, a traditional Swiss chocolate shop, decorated with beautiful garlands of silk flowers and boasting handmade truffles, bon bons, cordials, and more. The group sampled a signature Champagne Truffle, which had a delicate chocolate coating and a dreamy, creamy, burst of concentrated champagne flavor in the middle. Our ladies also eyed up the chocolate bars, which boasted flavored like Truffle, Pink Peppercorn, and Chili. And then there were the adorable handmade figurines which actually doubled as chocolate boxes.
The next stop on the tour was Hendrickx Bakery, sellers of fine Belgian baked goods. The group sampled several of their wares, including a White Chocolate Muffin, an orange scented Chocolate Cake, some Country Bread, and their signature Liege Waffle, studded with crunchy pearl sugar. Brandy was particularly taken with the colorful Mignons, miniature layer cakes with flavors like raspberry, pistachio, and coffee. Bunny wisely pointed out the daily lunch menu, suggesting Brandy may want to come back some day for a little Belgian brunch.
As the group walked along, the tour guide pointed out a few spots of interest, from staples of the Chicago skyline like the John Hancock Building and the Trump Tower, to smaller, easy to miss details like the plaster statue of a cow dressed as a lady bug, mounted onto the side of the Talbott Hotel.
Next up was More Cupcakes, one of the more fashionable gourmet cupcake spots that have sprouted all over Chicago in the last few years. Though a small space, both Our Ladies agreed that thecupcake wall that took the place of a more traditional pastry case was a brilliant feature. The group sampled a Chocolate Chocolate Cupcake, which was lovely and rich. Bunny and Brandy were especially drawn to one of the regular "savory" cupcakes, the Maple Bacon, as well as one of the daily specials, The Mimosa. "You could make brunch out of those two for sure!" Bunny whispered to Brandy.
Lastly, the group traveled to Argo Tea, a common site to Chicago dwellers that specializes in gourmet tea based drinks, doing for the beverage what Starbucks did for coffee. There they learned about some of the health benefits of chocolate while sampling a bit of fresh baked Chocolate Croissant and some Chocolate Chai Tea. The tea, in fact, was so delicious, that our ladies decided to buy a cuppa to sit and catch up over.
The Chocolate Tour did a good job of introducing Our Ladies to some hidden gems they weren't incredibly familiar with, but the small samples did leave them a little wanting (though, when it comes to Our Ladies and chocolate, there probably isn't enough in the world to make them stop asking for it). Brandy suggested that better incentives from the shops to buy their wears would have made things a little more special, such as a free gift with purchase or a percentage off same day sales for all members of the tour. But all in all, it certainly was a lovely experience, inspiring Bunny to browse some of the other packages on XperienceDays.com to find the perfect birthday present for her husband, Benedict (last we checked, she was still debating between a sky diving lesson and beer tasting tour).
*Tickets to the Chicago Chocolate Tour were provided free of charge to the writers of this blog by www.xperincedays.com in exchange for an honest review of the experience.