Moving to the neighbouring country of Belgium, we have arrived in Germany, a country famous for so many things that we may conveniently forget that it is home to some of the most famous brands of sweet delights we enjoy!
After the Belgium post, we just could not get enough of the historical architecture and the high quality of sweet treats there. Hence we decided to move just next door to Germany, that happens to have both of these.
Some facts about Germany
- Capital: Berlin
- Europe's largest chocolate market: per capita consumption of over 8kg annually, by far the highest in Western Europe
- Germany is well-known for its beautiful architecture and cars. Home of great polymaths, geniuses and notable people such as Albert Einstein the physicist, Beethoven for music, Johannes, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe the poet, Immanuel Kant the philosopher, Johann Sebastian Bach, Karl Marx and Albrecht Altdorfer the painter.
Attractions in Germany
As usual, we can never miss visiting the capital. Berlin is home to Germany's vibrant arts, fashion, music and design scene, at the same time showcasing its resilience and determination in leaving the historical burden back in the yesterday where it should remain.
Visitors to Reichstag will be exposed to an introduction to Berlin. Besides admiring how well the building has been restored since the Reichstag fire (1933) and Battle of Berlin (1945), you could enter the glass dome at the top (requires online reservations) to get a 360-degree bird's-eye view of the city. With your free admission to the dome, you also have an audio guide that explains the sights as one moves along the gentle slopes circling the dome.
Turning back to face the indoors, look down at the circular center of the glass dome to witness the German parliament in session - a rare experience for many. It can be viewed as Germany’s attempt to show that their government is totally transparent with nothing to hide.
Another must-go is the Schloss Charlottenburg, which is the largest palace in Berlin, and the only surviving royal residence in the city. There is also a large magnificent garden with water and greenery behind the palace, which also means a major photofest.
The palace, built in 17th Century, proudly showcases its exotic interior, heavily influenced by the baroque and rococo styles, which calls for endless snapping of the camera shutter to catch every well-crafted corner of the palace, and probably setting aside the rest of the day for exploring.
Another to-go for ancient architecture and art-lovers is the Museuminsel (Museum Island), home to the 5 famous museums and an abundance of artistic beauty. Surrounded by water (Belgium anyone?), this famous landmark of Berlin requires many to take a full-day tour to visit all five to appreciate its cultural beauty.
The inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle will be a definite destination in our destination (we're never too old to live our princess fantasies!) If you thought Schloss Charlottenburg was already lavish, Neuschwanstein Castle brings the exquisiteness up a notch, but just let the pictures do the talking, and you to do your own exploring.
Catch one of the biggest European harbours in Hamburg, the "Venice of the North", second only to Berlin in size and population. As one of the best cities for living in Europe, we would really enjoy the vacation strolling along its picturesque waterways and canals, enjoy fine dining alongside River Elbe, and take many photos - leaving all the stress and deadlines behind in Singapore. What better place to do this at, if not Hamburg Harbour that gave the city its fame as one of the main transportation hubs in Germany and Europe, and second largest in the continent. Many sources we found suggested starting a boat trip to explore the city by water at Landungsbrücken, a large historical building, one of the main shipping stations in the harbour that features numerous piers and terminals.
Downtown Hamburg is an attractive mixture of different people, food and fantastic shopping centers. As chocolate lovers, we are thrilled to share with you that there is a gourmet trip into the production of chocolate, courtesy of the traditional German brand Hachez. This tour will take you step by step in traditional chocolate production, starting from the earliest part of picking cocoa beans, using four enormous, original machines that demonstrate the individual manufacturing steps - from roasting, mixing and rolling to stirring and grinding the ingredients, and till the final stage when the finished chocolate product in packaged into exquisite bars and wrapped in quality foil and paper. And the catch is that there will be free tasting at every step, and even a station to custom make your own chocolate bar with ingredients of your selection.
Hachez is a classic German brand (one of Germany's largest, in fact) that keeps to the traditional methods of chocolate-making, starting with the roasting of the cocoa beans exclusively at their own premises, ensuring a high level of quality of its chocolates. Perhaps preserving this traditional sophisticated craftmanship is the reason why it can keep its high position in the market, opposed to those of mass production. Previously we have also featured its Light and Dark collection, which is effectively for the Christmas season. To enjoy traditional German goodness all year round, below are the few products you can try:
Hachez Braune Blatter (Brown Leaves)
This line is, in our opinion, the most representative of the Hachez brand, as the leaf symbol dates back to one autumn day in 1923, when the company proprietor found inspiration in the leaves that wafted down as he strolled through the park. The beautiful leaf shapes were then immediately recreated in their chocolate pieces, and became one of their signature symbols. We enjoy the one with the orange in the picture, that combines the citrus thrill with the rich texture of the signature Hachez brown leaves.
Wild Cocoa de Amazonas
The line emerged with the growing emphasis on ethical behaviour, offering above-market prices for cocoa beans grown in the Amazon rainforest. A local farmers’ cooperative takes care of the harvesting, fermenting and drying of the beans, as well as arranges the export of the beans to Germany. This ensures the farmers their profits and livelihood that middleman have traditionally enjoyed, which allows them to live above their previously barely-subsistence standards. Taste-wise, this line maintains its classic mild taste and excellent texture that melts easily in the mouth, two attributes that Hachez is well-acclaimed for. It starts plain chocolatey on the tongue, then the more forceful woody notes take over with the occasional sharp citrus spike, and finishes off distinctly earthy.
Hachez Chocolate coins (Taler)
Better to be served chill, these chocolate coins have refreshing creamy cores of a variety of flavours packed in handy tubes - of which we haven't tried the three from the right (we will try to get our hands on them!) but we reckon that the orange and peppermint flavours (2nd and 3rd from left) will be more suited to the local tastebuds, being popular flavours to be incorporated into confectionery.
For people looking for something more filling for a snack, Hans Freitag is another traditional German brand that has been in the business for 68 years, specialising in production of wafers and cookies. The Desiree line is one of the bestselling wafers of the brand, while Lecker Schmecker Mischung (white package on left) is a star pack of purely butter cookies, and Noblesse is a mix of both. But no matter which you choose, the assortment available in shapes, flavours, and sizes are bound to give variety-seekers a good treat. Enjoy this at tea time with a cup of your favourite hot beverage, and you might just finish one whole pack -- tried and tested.
We have just featured two out of the many German brands we enjoy, leaving many yet to be mentioned. Explore the many brands on your own at Candy Empire, home to many of our favourite European delights, and also let us know your favourite brands and products! Seek the nearest one to you and start your own adventure journey!