Move over Willy Wonka, make way Varuca Salt! We take a ride on the Cycle California! Chocolate Trail for Valentine’s Day!
Because we at Cycle California! Magazine like to connect good things, this month we bring bike riding and chocolate together as along the Chocolate Trail. While there are many chocolate producers to experience, we chose these because they are small mom-and-pop operations that make their chocolates the old-fashioned way.
However, nearly as important for the Cycle California! Chocolate Trail, some of these shops are located near bike paths or bike routes, which makes an outing to your local chocolate shop a family-friendly event. While not exactly a river of chocolate, like in Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, the Chocolate Trail awaits!
Why local chocolate shops & bike riding?
- You support locally owned businesses with your dollars.
- Bike riding reduces your environmental impact.
- Bike riding is a healthy activity.
- Bike riding is an opportunity to spend quality time with family.
Healthy & Fun!
Our chocolate trail — well, it’s a bit of a metaphoric route. We found several Bay Area chocolate shops very near local trails. Our chocolate trail is more about the fun of experiencing of these fine small-batch chocolates — some local to you!
Bark & Bars
Barlovento Chocolates, 638 2nd St., Oakland, 94607 & 381 E. Campbell Ave., Campbell, 95008
The Barlovento experience includes truffles, bars and barks, and exotics such as chocolate covered candied orange peel. The name “Barlovento” honors a cacao growing area of Venezuela where the beans have been grown for centuries and all Barlovento’s beans are sourced from the area. barloventochocolate.com
Mi Casa es Su Casa
Casa de Chocolates, 2329 Ashby Ave., Berkeley, 94705
Tucked inside a tiny postage stamp of a storefront, Casa de Chocolates’ offerings make a large impression. Casa de Chocolates’ mission is to bring small batch high-quality sweets while honoring the Mesoamerican origins of chocolate. February’s treats feature the Amor collection of chocolates and sweets to tempt your heart’s desire. Casadechocolates.com
Chocolate Dream Box, 15557 Union Ave., Los Gatos, 95032
Located in a strip mall, Chocolate Dream Box’s offers chocolates in the European style, all beautifully decorated and stuffed with a variety of fillings: single origin cacao, or soft, sweet caramel, or even Macallen single malt Scotch. For Valentine’s Day, their boxes come with a card that you can personalize with your own personal message. www.chocolatedreambox.com
The French Way
Mariette Chocolates, 1268 Lincoln Ave., San Jose, 95125
A mile off the confluence of the Los Gatos Creek Trail and the Guadalupe River Trail in San Jose’s historic Willow Glen neighborhood, Mariette Chocolates serves up covered fruits and premium chocolate treats from its storefront on Lincoln Ave. On warm days, the small patio at the front of the shop offers the chance to sit, enjoy the sunshine and indulge in a truffle or two. For Valentines Day, Mariette’s packages include a box of truffles and red roses either a half-bunch or a full dozen to show your love. www.mariettechocolates.com
Nuubia Chocolate, 5673 W. Las Positas Blvd., Suite 220, Pleasanton, 94588
Near where the Iron Horse Regional Trail intersects with Las Positas Blvd. in Pleasanton, sits Nuubia Chocolate. A purveyor of chocolate spreads, chocolates of all types, Nuubia is a charter member of the Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network, using ethically sourced ingredients. Nuubia also offers chocolate classes for adults and children. www.nuubia.com
Aztec ’n Chocolate
Snake & Butterfly, 191 E. Campbell Ave, Campbell, 95008
A half-mile off the Los Gatos Creek Trail in downtown Campbell is Snake & Butterfly. A bean-to-bar outlet that processes organic free-trade cacao nibs from an family farm in the Dominican Republic. The nibs are roasted and processed in Campbell. Wondering about the name? It comes from the mythology surrounding Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec god of wind, air and learning. Snakeandbutterfly.com
Obviously, this is not an all-inclusive list. The San Francisco Bay Area is chock full of independent chocolate shops. If the weather is good, why not make Valentine’s Day heart-friendly? Experience a family bike ride to a chocolate shop and support a local company!
Do you have a favorite chocolate shop? Let us know!