Our friends, Peter and Ross, from the UK we took with us again last weekend to our home-town enjoy life the simple way - like we. Small treats are celebrated as wonderful gifts, good times fondly remembered and talked about for months.
On the way back, Monday, we decided to take a 2 hour 'pit-stop' in the medieval Belgium town of Brugge, famous for its Belfort, historic buildings, city tours in open horse carts, lace and of course chocolate of the highest quality.
Ross had ordered a hot chocolate drink every day over the weekend and so when we found a fine restaurant near the Belfort her choice was easily made: hot chocolate please.
Now, you have hot chocolate and hot chocolate of course. Some are made of powder added to milk, some come ready made (light or creamy), some are weak and some really, really sweet. But what Ross got in Brugge turned into a whole new hot chocolate experience: do it your self. On a silver plate - yes, we know how to find a fine restaurant - a large mug of milk arrived with a wrapped thingy next to it. A Choc-o-lait stick, made of the finest Belgium chocolate.
The stick was unwrapped, admired by all of us and then disappeared into the mug of hot milk. Slowly the milk turned, well, chocelately. Lifting the stick out of the milk showed thick melting strings of sweet smelling - not overwhelming - chocolate, slowly 'gliding' into the mug and turning the milk further into real hot chocolate. And of course the chocolate had to be tasted before it melted completely! Just lovely, Ross said after the careful bite.
The hot chocolate in the sticky new style tasted as good as the whole experience promised. And of course the choc-o-lait sticks had to be found to take home with them for their grand-children, sweet-tooths all of them. Brugge has many, many chocolate shops, so we thought it would be very easy to purchase a couple of them. But no, the new hot chocolate experience is a well guarded secret it seems, until finally in the fifth shop they stood proudly on the counter. Mission accomplished.
Makes you wonder. Belgium famous for fine chocolate, Brugge famous for chocolate and chock-a-block with tourists - only a tiny majority of the retail businesses dedicated to the famous chocolate recognises a brand new hot chocolate experience for what it is: customer delight!
And the marketing by the company who produces the stick is a delight too, simple and sticky:
"From now on, enjoying real hot chocolate takes no time at all, with Choc-o-lait. With a cup of hot milk and a Choc-o-lait stick it takes you barely a minute to make some delicious hot chocolate.
The Choc-o-lait concept is both simple and brilliant: it comes on a stick. One end of a wooden stick is coated with authentic Belgian chocolate, which melts rapidly in a cup of hot milk. Or in the mouth. Because for some, the temptation will be too much...
In milk at 75°C the chocolate melts in barely a minute. And when the stick is used to stir the drink, it melts even faster. And then it’s pleasure time...!
Choc-o-lait is not only the most fabulous hot chocolate you ever experienced. The ways in which you can present the chocolate stick is also a feast for the eye. And you get the smell of authentic, tradition chocolate for free. This is no less than a full treat for all your senses!"
Makes you want to run out and buy loads, loads, loads.