What do you think is our most important stop everywhere we travel? Seeing a new chocolate shop of course! It is very exciting for us to see what kind of chocolates are out there, especially in Europe. One of our recent trips was to Venice. It is a place that is recognized for its old beauty, romantic atmosphere, bridges and canals, gondola rides, but also exquisite chocolate.
Growing up in Croatia, I did not have a chance to travel much, only on school excursions which were always in Croatia. Living in the US and traveling to Europe is something I look forward to every year, to visit my family of course, but also to see all the new places that I never could growing up. It is even better now, because I can create lasting memories with my husband Mike.
Venice is only two hours away by boat from where I grew up…I can’t believe I have not been there before! It was magnificent, a place like no other! A whole city built on over a hundred little islands connected by canals and bridges, and there are no cars or even bicycles! First stop on our agenda was Cioccolateria VizioVirtu. With a map in his hands when we stepped off the boat, Mike was determined to get us there first thing. We only had six hours before the boat went back so I was not sure that it will be possible for us to find it and still see beautiful Venice. If you’ve been to Venice you know it is nearly impossible to find anything and that eventually you will get lost.
After 15 minutes of walking in the maze, Mike yells out: “We’re here!” He claims it was his good navigating skills but I still think that he smelled it! We were so excited to find this chocolate shop and it definitely smelled like chocolate outside in the 90 degree August weather. As soon as we entered this small shop, we inhaled the alluring aroma of all the chocolates being made right there behind the counter with a small machine and a dipping fork. The trays with beautiful chocolates were calling our names right under the crystal clear glass. I wanted to try them all! I first started taking pictures to keep this memory lasting, but the lady said ‘No photos’. I was not sure why but I obeyed, but when we told her that we also have chocolate shop, she was happy to learn that we stopped by. We could not communicate much, but we understood all the flavors! We started selecting chocolates in a little bag: one praline, alcohol and honey truffles, dipped orange, kiwi, ginger, figs, spiced disks with cinnamon and pistachio, marzipan, and bars with nuts, spices and fruit. We make a lot of these but we still wanted to try to see the difference and compare with ours.
There were just two small tables inside so we sat down and started out testing, because there was no way that we were going to let these expensive chocolates melt away outside this perfectly air-conditioned place. The lady went back to her dipping machine and let us devour our treats in peace. I started with the fruit and Mike with the truffles. I love our glazed fruit dipped in chocolate so much, and orange peel has always been my favorite. We also dip apricots, pineapple and oranges. What amazed me was the great selection of all other fruits this shop had. My favorite was fig! I grew up eating fresh figs right off the tree, but this chocolate glacé fig tasted like no other. They are such delicate fruit when fresh so I’m sure it took great skill to make this glacé fig retain so much of its original flavor, moisture and crunchy seeds. I almost forgot about the chocolate, maybe because I enjoyed this fig in its new state so much or because there just wasn’t enough chocolate for this size fruit. Mike is enjoying his truffle with a kick…very rich and creamy, made with butter and chocolate, just like ours. Next one for me: praline with my favorite of all nuts…hazelnuts! Crunchy little pieces inside very rich hazelnut crème. Wait…this reminds me of our Tuscany truffle, crunchy little pieces of hazelnuts inside dark chocolate truffle topped of with a whole hazelnut…extra crunchy! The verdict: We make so many similar chocolates! That is why we call them European style! But there is always room for more good chocolate, so we are thinking of cooking up something with honey soon (besides our torrone)!
This chocolate shop was a perfect first stop in beautiful Venice and we can’t wait to go back!