Philadelphia Chocolate Tour
I went on this tour a couple weeks ago and had a great time.
They recently expanded to offer tours on Sundays in addition to Saturdays. We tried to go on a Saturday; they were booked, so we took the following Sunday. As it turned out, my gf and I were the only people booked so we had the benefit of a private tour. We also got to have our tour given by the owner, Valerie (they are looking to hire tour guides if anyone is interested).
We started at RTM where Valerie sat us down, we made some introductions, and then she had us taste raw cocoa beans while she talked about the history of chocolate. Here is the rundown of where we went:
Famous 4th St, got a chocolate chip cookie.
Philly Cupcakes, got to try a couple cupcakes. This place is awesome, btw.
Marcie Blaine Chocolate (in the back of Verde on 13th St). We got to sample I think one piece each.
Teuscher, got to try a few pieces and also 10% off any purchases.
Miel Patisserie, they were out of whatever chocolate cake we were supposed to have, so got some sort of triple layer cake thing instead.
Capogiro (20th St). Got gelato samples obviously, and big cups of their really rich/thick hot cocoa (never had this, it is great).
All along the way Valerie was telling the story of chocolate from its ancient use in South America, its introduction in Europe, popularity in America, health benefits, etc. She also gave us the rundown on all the shops we were going to. She was full of lots of other knowledge, too, and was able to answer any questions we had. She is charismatic, well traveled, and just a fun person to talk to to. At each stop, the counter people were really friendly and accommodating.
So is it worth $40? You won't eat $40 worth of chocolate, but you will be full and you will learn a lot and have a good time. Since we had a private tour, I don't really know what the dynamic would be like for a larger group. It was a great way to spend the afternoon, as you get to walk around CC, learn a little something, and eat delicious chocolate. Very good for a date (gf was in a very good mood afterward :)), or to kill an afternoon with guests.
NB I asked about Naked Chocolate; Valerie said she wanted to include them but they declined to participate.
It sounds like a rip to me...I bet all you do is sample a bit at each place and talk to the folks behind the counter. Fourth St. Cookies? Granted the cookies are great but who wants to talk to the ladies about how they arrange the pre-packaged dough balls before sending them into the oven? And I find it bizarre that they don't have Naked Chocolate on the tour. But for each his own.
This is a great gift for any chocolate lover. I did the tour today. Started off with a warm, full-sized chocolate chip cookie from the Famous 4th St Cookie Company. There were 5 more stops, with wonderful chocolate samplings at every stop. They require that each shop use all natural ingredients, but not all chocolate is made on-site, for example Teuscher. They want you to experience a wide variety of chocolate, and that means comparing American to Swiss chocolate. Teuscher is flown in from Switzerland, and sold within 2 weeks of arrival. Wonderful. The tour guide was knowledgeable, and entertaining. She is in theater, so her voice really carries!. I was so full, and so tired of chocolate by the final stop, that I passed on gelato. Highly recommended, however, I think that if you are someone who only enjoys milk chocolate (gasp), you aren't going to get the most out of this tour. Teuscher offered milk chocolate to the 3 wimps (out of 16) in our group, but they really missed out on what Teuscher does best.
I have seen the tour at various stops around town and always pray that they won't be hogging up the counter at Capogiro when I get there :)
Seriously though, they charge $40 for a cookie at Fourth St, a small spoonful of gelato at Capogiro, a chocolate at Teuscher, and a few other bites, so you'd hope to get an entertaining tour guide for that price!