The chocolate cure
When winter's allure wears off, drown your sorrows with sweets.
© Beth Gauper
Dainty molded chocolates have a variety of fillings.
In February and March, most of us are getting tired of winter . . . time to eat some chocolate.
As everyone knows, chocolate has unique restorative qualities. It's effective draped on strawberries, whipped into mousse,
covering cakes . . . you get the idea.
Here's where to go to thumb your nose at winter (and your diet). Pick from tastings, tours, road trips and tours.
Here's how to take the chocolate cure in 2013.
On Feb. 2-3, vintners on Michigan's Leelanau Peninsula offer Taste the Passion, A Celebration of Wine, Chocolate & Love.'' Seventeen wineries offer sweet and savory pairings with their wines.
Nearby, the benefit Women's Winter Tour Feb. 3 in Traverse City, Mich., features a cross-country ski through the woods, with frequent stops at party tents offering chocolate and other goodies.
Along Lake Michigan just north of the Indiana border, in the eight towns of Michigan's Harbor Country, the entire month of February has a chocolate theme for Chocolate Classic.
In the Twin Cities suburb of Bloomington, Richardson Nature Center is offering the romantic Candlelight & Chocolate Feb. 14, with desserts, a campfire and a luminary-lit walk in the woods.
In Appleton, Wis., Feb. 14 is Death by Chocolate, a progressive tasting at 20 restaurants, bars and coffeehouses along College Avenue.
In Madison, Olbrich Botanical Gardens' Indulgence Wine & Chocolate Tasting is Feb. 23, featuring the wares of seven artisan chocolatiers and 10 local winemakers.
The multi-course deals offered during Restaurant Weeks always include dessert, and Chicago, Minneapolis,
and Traverse City hold them in February and March. For more, see Time to eat.
In March, bed-and-breakfast inns along the St. Croix River between Minnesota and Wisconsin put on the Chocolate March. On March 3, 10 and 24 in 2013, tour four different inns and a historic-house museum, each offering a buffet of treats.
© Beth Gauper
On the Magnificent Mile, Teuscher is at the top of Chicago's high-end chocolatiers.
In Madison, the shops along Monroe Street hold a Chocolate Walk in
In the southeast Wisconsin town of Burlington, the Chocolate Extravaganza is part of the Home Expo on March 16.
It's for people who just can't wait until the town's huge Chocolate Fest Memorial Day weekend. Burlington is the home of a Nestlé chocolate plant and calls itself Chocolate City USA.
On Lake Michigan, Traverse City's Chocolate Festival is May 5,
with sampling, a chocolate-sculpting workshop and music.
A chocolate getaway
If you'd like to go on a chocolate getaway any time, head for Chicago's Gold Coast. Stay at the Peninsula Hotel, which offers an all-you-can-eat chocolate buffet in its lobby from 8 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays.
Then go on a Chicago Chocolate Tour, a guided, 2˝- to 3-hour walking tour of high-end chocolatiers and pastry shops.
Or, visit many of the stops on your own. For everyday chocolate, head for the historic Water Tower area. The Hershey's store is at 822 N. Michigan, and its neighbor, the Ghirardelli store, is at at 830 N. Michigan.
A chocolate road trip
Wisconsin has a lot of chocolate as well as cheese and beer.
You can spend a very fun day visiting the many artisan chocolate shops of its capital city, as we did in A chocolate tour of Madison.
And the New York Times has mapped out a tour of chocolate shops in what it calls the Wisconsin Candy Delta between Appleton, Oshkosh, Green Bay/De Pere and Manitowoc.
The shops are Wilmar Chocolates and Vande Walle's Candies in Appleton, Oaks Candy Corner and Hughes Homaid Chocolate Shop in Oskhkosh, Beerntsen's and Kaap's Old World Chocolates in Green Bay and Seroogy's in De Pere and Beerntsen's in Manitowoc.
If you can do that in one day, you deserve an award.
Quality Candy in St.
Francis, Wis. See how chocolates and Buddy Squirrel nuts, snack mix and gourmet popcorn is made on the Candy & Nut
Tour in this south Milwaukee factory.
They last 30 to 45 minutes and are given Monday through Friday.
Tours are $3 and include samples. Reservations are required; call 414-483-4500.
The company holds an annual Easter Open House the Sunday before Palm Sunday. Families can meet Buddy Squirrel and Mr. and
Mrs. Easter Bunny and sample creme eggs and caramel corn.
The plant is just west of Wisconsin 794 at 1801 E. Bolivar Ave.
Long Grove Confectionery Co. in Buffalo Grove, Ill. Free tours of this family-owned chocolate company, which produces many fun novelty items, are given on the hour at 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays, and no reservation is necessary.
Tours between 10 a.m. and noon Tuesdays and Wednesdays include a view of production and packaging lines as well as a short video about how cacao is grown and made into chocolate. They cost $2 and must be reserved, 888-459-3100.
Both tours end with stops at the factory shop for discounted chocolate.
Buffalo Grove is a northern suburb of Chicago, west of the intersection of I-94 and 294. It's just east of Long Grove.
Sign up for our free weekly newsletter
Get our weekly stories, tips and updates delivered a day early directly to your Inbox. Wondering what you'll get? Take a look at our newsletter archive.