Tag: chocolate factory

Day 7 – ChocoCard

Iza and Zoli have built a lovely little chocolate factory next to their home in Albertkázmérpuszta right next to the Austro-Hungarian border. They welcome visitors who want to understand how chocolate is made from bean-to-bar and look behind the scenes of a small-batch chocolate factory. 

1. What’s your favourite family tradition during this period of the year?
These questions are a bit hard for me. Since we are working with chocolate it got a bit harder to get into the Christmas spirit because we are so busy. And as Zoli used to work in pyrotechnology we still sell fireworks for New Years Eve, so it changes everything during Christmas-time too. 

2. The Xmas song that puts you in the mood for the holiday season?
Jingle Bells and Last Christmas, but really only for a few moments, and then we go on. 

DAY 6 – York Cocoa Works

Sophie Jewett founder of York Cocoa House and York Cocoa Works. Photo: Sophie Jewett

1. What’s your favourite family tradition during this period of the year?
I have to say the last few years with our Christmas craziness its been near impossible to get home for Christmas though I did manage to this last year. It has to be my dad’s pancakes, he makes them every time we’re together as a family, but there seems something particularly special about having them together at Christmas.

2. The Xmas song that puts you in the mood for the holiday season?
Anything by Michael Buble – though it does become a little weary by mid-December at the Cocoa House with him on non-stop!

3. What does the Xmas period mean to your chocolate business?
Everything, it’s our busiest time of the year, though seeing our regular visitors who have joined us every Christmas Eve for the last 7 years is something very special being part of the Christmas traditions of other families.

DAY 5 – Malmö Chokladfabrik

Malmö Chokladfabrik’s production manager Lars Lindh. Foto: Carol Stenbäck

1. What’s your favourite family tradition during this period of the year?
Long dinners with everybody gathered around the table – the young ones more focused on the sweets and then off to play again, while the olders enjoy just sitting there and taking in the atmosphere of community. 

2. The Xmas song that puts you in the mood for the holiday season?
All the classics, from Bing Crosby’s White Christmas to Wham’s Last Christmas. 

3. What does the Xmas period mean to your chocolate business?
Xmas is of course the main season for any chocolate factory and we sell twice as much chocolate during Xmas as we do the rest of the year.

DAY 4 – NearyNógs

Dorothy and Shane Neary, NearyNógs. Photograph: Columba O’Hare

1. What’s your favourite family tradition during this period of the year?
We have a little tradition that everyone finds ONE favourite sock.. to hang up on Christmas Eve and that is their Christmas stocking.

2. The Xmas song that puts you in the mood for the holiday season?
Favourite Christmas song… well that’s a tie between Fairy tale of New York or White Christmas from the Home Alone soundtrack. It’s our fav Christmas movie.

3. What does the Xmas period mean to your chocolate business?
Christmas means round the clock chocolate because it’s the most wonderful time of the year! 😉 

DAY 3 – Harrer Chocolat

Read my previous blog posts about Harrer here and here

Karl Harrer tempering
Karl Harrer hand tempering on marble (photo credit: Harrer Chocolat)

1. What’s your favourite family tradition during this period of the year?
For many years now, on 24 December Karl gets up very early in the morning to go back to his hometown Mattersburg in Austria. Christmas starts there for him with breakfast on the main square among family. And more importantly, he brings back home the lights of Betlehem. 

2. The Xmas song that puts you in the mood for the holiday season?
I cannot start decorating the Christmas tree without listening to Bojtorján band’s song “A mai nap” (This day) and of course Christmas Eve is not complete without “Stille Nacht” (Silent Night).

3. What does the Xmas period mean to your chocolate business?
The period before Christmas is probably the busiest for a pastry shop, but also full of love because we can watch the children joyfully eating their chocolate Santas and the happiness in the eyes of those who got our products as gifts for Christmas. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day is spent among family, these are the only days in the year when we are closed for business. 

My Chocolate Eurotrip

If you have followed my recent Instagram posts (if you haven’t, you can find me here), you know that in the last five weeks I travelled across Europe by car. The main reason behind this trip was to introduce our 5-month-old son to the rest of the family living in Hungary. But of course, one cannot ignore the added benefits of a trip like this, so I obviously planned to visit chocolate shops, chocolate makers and chocolatiers on the way. The convenience of going by car is that it’s flexible (but long, oh yes!), not to mention the ample space in the back to put all the goodies I buy (+gifts for the baby of course). In this post, I’m going to briefly share with you the main highlights of this holiday, but only as an appetizer. More detailed posts are on the way about each of the chocolate makers and chocolatiers I visited to give you as much insight as possible.


Our itinerary was quite straightforward, as we have done this route many times over the last 5 years. We always stop in Brussels, as we have some friends to visit here, and adding a few chocolate shops won’t do any harm either. This time though, because of precautionary reasons regarding our baby, we planned another stop on the way in Germany. This way, we weren’t bound to the car all day on the motorway, but could stretch our legs and even do a bit of sightseeing. On the way out we had a quick stroll in Heidelberg, a university city and found an amazing fine food and fine chocolate shop, L’Épicerie.

After Heidelberg, we traversed Austria and entered Hungary at the northwest border just after Vienna to say hello to my Mum in Győr (my beloved hometown). For the next two weeks we had our “base camp” in the capital Budapest, where I visited many chocolate professionals. We spent our last week in Hungary in Győr, which proved to be a perfect base camp for day-out trips to chocolate factories such as Harrer in Sopron or Zotter in Austria.

The last week of our trip started with going through Austria and Germany once again, this time stopping in Trier, a city full of ancient Roman architecture, a huge cathedral and the birthplace of Karl Marx. Unfortunately it was Whit Monday so most of the shops were closed, but still managed to buy some chocolates in a little café near the cathedral. Finally, we arrived to Brussels again, and we spent 4 days here before returning home to Cambridge.


Not surprisingly the highlights of this journey were the meetings with chocolate makers and chocolatiers and the factory visits. I crammed in as many as possible, and I am fairly happy with the outcome, as I only missed one visit out of the 8 that I planned.

  • Fabric Csokoládé (Hungary)
  • Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé (Hungary)
  • Harrer Chocolat (Hungary)
  • ChocoFacture (Hungary)
  • Zsuzsanna Ötvös (Hungary)
  • Zotter Schokolade (Austria)
  • Mike&Becky (Belgium)

In Hungary, I visited Fabric Csokoládé, Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé, Harrer Chocolat, ChocoFacture and Zsuzsi, a chocolate friend (now working as a pastry chef) who used to work with the late Szántó Tibor. In Austria, I had a fabulous day at the Zotter Factory and Edible Zoo, a wonderful place full of chocolate and fun. In Brussels, I visited the atelier where I had my training and also many different little shops in the city centre. The best part here was my visit to Mike&Becky, a couple who opened a fine chocolate shop and make their own bean-to-bar chocolates as well. And the missed visit was that of Benoit Nihant’s factory. But fear not, I’m already planning for my next trip in September!


Whenever I go somewhere new, my first thing to do is to check chocolate shops on Google Maps and on the Find Chocolate! app by Ecole Chocolat. I also just simply google the “city name + chocolate” to see what comes up, and I like to read reviews on TripAdvisor too. The beauty of this is that I still find places that were nowhere on the Internet, so there’s always an element of surprise! But, this minor preparation is important for a successful chocolate hunt. In my upcoming posts, I will share with you maps of the places I visited so that all you have to do is download, and you’re ready to go.

Buying chocolate while sightseeing can be tricky especially during warmer season. May was particularly hot this year throughout Europe, so it gave me a little headache to keep my chocolate stash cool in the car and while out and about. Investing in small insulated bags (zippered ones are best) can be a chocolate lifesaver. I must admit, that I haven’t thought of it, but luckily we got a free bag at Zotter factory for buying a lot of chocolates 😉 The good thing is, these insulated bags are reusable and can come handy for any other outdoor activities or picnics too.



In the upcoming weeks, I will post in detail about the visited chocolate professionals to give you an insight into their work, their products and philosophy. I didn’t conduct any formal interviews, because I wanted to concentrate on the person behind the chocolates. I’m hoping to show you a few brands that you may not know so well yet, and I will try to give you some help on where to find these chocolates on the international market (if available). Please, don’t hesitate to ask questions about the brands/makers or to give your opinion on these posts in the comment section below.

Let’s get started!

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