Part of the five-star luxury service we provide for our guests on board is the turn-down service.
Turn-downs are usually done while the guests are having dinner. The practice involves removing and stowing heavy comforters and pillows, and then turning back the sheets and blanket on each side of the bed with a decorative fold and ironing the sheets and pillowcases so they look crisp and inviting.
It also includes checking and cleaning the room and bathroom one last time for the day so that everything is neat, tidy, and organized.
And last but not least, an important aspect of this ritual is leaving a last-minute sweet treat for guests to enjoy to promote a sense luxury and well-being.
One of the most common treats to leave is a beautiful piece of chocolate. The selection of chocolates available is remarkable. Each brand claims to be better than the last. Chocolatiers have been around for centuries, but in recent years there has been an increase in the number and type of gourmet and artisanal chocolate brands available.
We want to make the best choice when we purchase chocolates for turndowns by providing a high-quality product at a reasonable cost. But what is the difference between the various types and brands available?
All chocolate originates from the fermented, roasted and ground beans of the cacao or cocoa tree. A chocolate beverage consumed in Mesoamerica had been around for centuries before Christopher Columbus introduced cacoa beans to Spain.
Cacao beans were a prized commodity, and were used as currency throughout Central and South America and Mexico.
The Pre-Columbian peoples of the Americas drank chocolate beverages in many forms. They mixed it with chili pepper, maize and vanilla to make a foamy, spicy drink. Chocolate was not used simply for beverages; it was incorporated into Aztec, Mayan and Mexican cuisine in many ways.
Not everyone was eager to accept the mysterious new beverage. The French considered it a dangerous drug. Its popularity spread, however, and by 1615 it was the official drink of the French court.
By the 1700s it had become all the rage in Italy and England. In London, a milk chocolate drink was developed, which was initially used in apothecaries. The recipe was eventually sold to the Cadbury Brothers.
In the 19th century, John Cadbury developed a process for emulsifying chocolate and created the first chocolate bar. Interestingly enough, the Cadburys were a Quaker family, and were encouraging the general public to give up alcohol consumption and drink chocolate instead.
Eventually, as a result of religious persecution, many of the Quaker families fled England and settled in the American colony of Pennsylvania, founded by William Penn in 1862. By 1864 several thousand Quakers had settled in Pennsylvania, including one Milton Hershey. Chocolate kisses, anyone?
During the Industrial Revolution (18th-19th Century) a Dutch chocolate master invented the chocolate press, which extracted cocoa oil and left behind the dry powder we know as cocoa. This was the innovation that made chocolate affordable to the common man. A number of manufacturers began producing chocolate, including Cadbury, Fry, Nestle , Lindt and Hershey.
Today chocolate is one of the most popular and recognizable flavors in the world. It is contained in candies, ice cream, cookies, cakes, pies, and other desserts. Although cocoa originated in the Americas, today most chocolate comes from Africa.
Everyone has an opinion about the best brand of chocolate, but I thought it would be fun to think outside the box a bit, and so I have looked up the top 10 Chocolate Destinations. They are:
No. 10: Cologne, Germany, home of the Stollwerck Chocolate company
No. 9: Tain L’Hermitage, France, home of the famed Valrhona Chocolate company and esteemed chocolate cooking school
No. 8: Hershey, Pennsylvania, dubbed “The Sweetest Place on Earth”
No. 7: New York City, where you can take the New Cuisine Chocolate Tour, or the Luxury Chocolate tour, for starters
No. 6: Villajoyosa, Spain, home to Spain’s oldest gourmet chocolate producer, Valor
No. 5: San Francisco, home of Ghirardelli’s Chocolates
No. 4: Oaxaca, Mexico, the world’s first chocolatiers
No. 3: Barcelona, the first Europeans to experience chocolate, and a center of chocolate production ever since
No. 2: Zurich. The Swiss consume more chocolate per capita than any other country; take a ride on the Swiss Chocolate Train
No. 1: Brussels, the chocolate capital of the world, home to Godiva, Leonidas, and Zaabar
Just remember the four basic food groups, and you can’t go wrong: Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and chocolate truffles.