This week’s dream
A chocolate lover’s tour of the sweet’s Swiss capital
In Zurich, chocolate shops are “temples in their own right,” said Mike MacEacheran in The Observer (U.K.). Sure, Switzerland’s largest city is rich in cultural attractions, including the Kunsthaus, an outstanding art museum. But the longest lines form outside the dozens of artisanal chocolatiers squirreled away in the city’s mazelike streets. Zurich has been the epicenter of the Swiss sweet scene since 1892, when hometown firm Sprüngli merged with the Bernese manufacturer Lindt, creating a chocolate giant. But this city is no museum: Over the past decade it has experienced an explosion of innovation, with candy pioneers pushing the possibilities of the humble cocoa bean. To hunt down Zurich’s most delectable treasures, I teamed up with fanatical chocolate guide Stephanie Greiner. “You’ll never touch a Lindor again,” she promised.
At Confiserie Honold, a traditional atelier in the Old Town, the air is a tantalizing mix of vanilla, toffee, and raisins. Here I sample Zurich’s finest truffle, filled with a cognac-steeped grape and “encased in a ruffled nest of dark chocolate.” It takes more than a year to make—and only a second to eat. “I’m thinking this as I eye another.” Inside Max Chocolatier, beneath St. Peter’s Church, I marvel at the extravagant menu. “Hello, pistachio marzipan, port wine, and caramel.” Moving on, I learn that every day Sprüngli makes a truffle with fresh cream sold for just 24 hours. As I’m leaving, I spot a stack of rainbow-colored Luxemburgerli—pillowy-soft macaroons. I emerge with “a prime specimen” made with black Tahitian vanilla, inspiring envy among the bankers strolling Bahnhofstrasse.
To gauge how much Zurich’s chocolate scene is changing, check out Dieter Meier’s new boutique, Oro de Cacao. Meier, who was the frontman of the ’80s electropop outfit Yello, explains to me that while other manufacturers roast beans at high temperatures, making the cocoa bitter, he uses a cold extraction technique to retain the aromas. The result is low on sugar and a world apart from supermarket chocolate. Our final destination, Conditorei Péclard im Schober, is a snug café stacked with glistening éclairs, cream-piped scones, apple strudels, and almond sugar pearls. We order a Schoggi Mélange, a syrupy hot chocolate, capped with cream, that has lured crowds since 1874. “We breathe it all in deeply.”
At 25hours Hotel Langstrasse (25hours-hotels.com), doubles start at $183.