Do you love chocolate enough to make it a full meal, to bathe in it, or to build a weekend around it? Here are options to melt the heart, in preparation for Valentine’s Day – or any other excuse you find to feed the sweet tooth before or after that holiday.
Next year, we’ll try to make it to Girls on the Town in Fond du Lac, which is this weekend. Word arrived too late for me this year, but the first-time event was a great value for budget-minded travelers.
For $99, visitors got a room for two at the downtown Ramada Plaza Hotel (a wonderfully old, woodwork-rich and well-kept property), $20 in “fun money” to use for dinner and drinks, a tote bag with coupons and gifts, plus two tickets to a two-hour wine tasting.
There were sales and demos at downtown shops (among the topics: “How I Learning to Stop Wearing Black” and “Seafood Made Easy”). To cap off the getaway, girlfriends also got tickets to Chocolate Fantasy, an eating and shopping extravaganza that is all about chocolate.
Didn’t need a room? Then the cost was just $39 for everything else. For more, call (920) 921-9500 or go to www.fdlac.com.
The Women’s Winter Tour, a February “celebration of women, winter and chocolate,” began six years ago in Traverse City, Mich. Now there are nine communities – from Colorado to Quebec – that participate. For most, the Subaru-sponsored event is Super Bowl weekend.
What happens? Women cross-country ski or use snowshoes to get from one trail stop to another. The reward, at each stop, is wine and/or gourmet snacks that contain chocolate. So you have to work for your treats, but it is done at a leisurely pace. Consider it a way to sin and repent on the same day.
This year, the cities whose event is Feb. 6 are Traverse City; Marquette, Mich.; Mont-Tremblant, Quebec; and Winter Park, Colo. Waterville Valley, N.H., has its celebration Feb. 13; it is Feb. 19 at Crystal Mountain, Mich., Feb. 27 in Charlevoix, Mich., and March 5-6 in Lewiston, Mich. We all missed the Minneapolis event, which was Jan. 23.
For more, go to www.womenswintertour.com.
Chocolate Fantasia, a fund-raiser for the Neenah-Menasha chapter of the American Red Cross, is 6:30-9:30 p.m. Feb. 11 at the Holiday Inn Neenah Riverwalk. Candy, tortes, pastries and other desserts can be sampled for $40 at this dressy affair. There also is a silent auction and raffle that include hotel stays. For more, call (920) 722-2871 or go to www.nmredcross.com.
Head to Appleton on Feb. 14, when it costs $20 per person or $30 per couple to taste chocolate inventions at least a dozen downtown restaurants. This “Death by Chocolate” sugar-hopping event is 5:30-8:30 p.m.; call (920) 954-9112 or go to www.appletondowntown.org.
Burlington calls itself Chocolate City USA, because of the Nestle plant there, and each year’s ChocolateFest is a weekend of decadence for the entire family. There is live entertainment and children’s activities as well as multiple ways to spend your money on chocolate.
This year, the festival is Memorial Day weekend, May 27-30. For more, go to www.chocolatefest.com.
Chocolate Gala 2005, a popular annual fund-raiser for the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, is a more formal affair that begins with a gourmet dinner and ends with an extensive buffet of chocolate desserts. In between is a silent auction.
This year’s gathering, on May 7, celebrates the WCO’s 10th anniversary. Details are not yet set; call (608) 257-0638 or go to www.wcoconcerts.com for more.
Turn the calendar to November and make a note that “In Celebration of Chocolate” will be one giant buffet of decadence at the five-diamond American Club in Kohler. The resort’s pastry chefs get to show off at this Saturday affair; the date has not been set. For more, call (800) 344-2838, extension 700 or go to www.destinationkohler.com.
If you dream of being drenched or wrapped up in chocolate, save up for a visit to The Spa at the Hotel Hershey, in Hershey, Penn. The menu includes a Whipped Coca Bath, Chocolate Hydrotherapy, Chocolate Bean Polish, Chocolate Sugar Scrub, Chocolate Fondue Wrap and Cocoa Massage.
The hotel is a part of the city that is devoted to the major chocolate manufacturer. There is a Hershey theme park, outlet mall, model factory to tour, special events year-round that involve chocolate. For more, call (800) HERSHEY or go to www.hersheys.com/chocolateworld.