Chocolate Safari: Rice Boulevard, Rice Villege
Advance paid reservations are required for all tours.
Do you think wine is complicated? It's not even close to chocolate!
Discovered by natives of South America before recorded time, delicate cacao trees grow only in the 20 degrees on either side of the Equator. They are still harvested by hand on large and small plantations in such exotic locales as the Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Malaysia, and Peru.
Europeans became aware of the strong, bitter drink enjoyed by Mayans and then Aztecs when Montezuma served a small cup to Cortes in 1519.
Want to know more?
Sign up and meet your Chocolate Safari guide at the Discover Houston Tours table inside Ruggles Cafe Bakery on Rice Boulevard in the Village. Restrooms are available.
We recommend coming at least 15 minutes early in order to find a space to park. Although there are many areas designated for parking in Rice Village, parking lots can become crowded during peak hours. Free parking is available along the streets, in designated store parking lots, and in several area rooftop parking lots. Paid parking is available on some streets and at The Village Arcade [www.villagearcade.com/events.php].
We've chosen a special itinerary for this Chocolate Safari. Way beyond chocolate-covered strawberries.
* We start promptly at 11:00 a.m. with introductions. Ruggles' manager gives us two complimentary cookies per person and talks briefly about their unique bakery and specials. You'll then have time to go to the counter and place an order if you like.
* At 11:30 a.m., your guide will present a short talk with picture cards about the history of chocolate from Montezuma up to the fair-trade movement, about how cacao becomes chocolate, and how every plantation, every chocolatier, and every manufacturer has one or hundreds of unique formulas for the chocolate we have grown to love all over the world. During the presentation, you will sample one piece each of white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate.
* At noon, we'll cross Rice Boulevard and nibble on Cadbury bunnies at British Isles.
* Next, we'll sample up to 10 different handmade ice creams at Cloud 10 Creamery, followed by bite-size pieces of Hershey's, Snickers, and M&Ms as chasers. If he's available, Chef Chris Leung will chat with our group about the concept behind his shop.
* At our fourth stop, Chocolat du Monde, we'll each savor a tasting square of imported French or Belgian chocolate flown in fresh every week. You'll also get to see what a cacao pod looks like.
* Along the way, your tour guide will talk briefly about Rice University, the City of West University Place, and history, architecture, and shopping in Rice Village.
* End your Chocolate Safari at Sweet Paris Creperie with a chocolate tasting to summarize all you've learned. Sweet Paris also offers 20% off your optional food and beverage purchase -- Nutella S'mores, anyone?
* After three hours, it's time to come down off your chocolate high by staying at Sweet Paris and watching the world walk by as you sip a beer or wine, returning with your guide to Ruggles, or strolling around Rice Village and savoring more delights.
Bring a container to hold your trophies: three tasting pieces of chocolate and two cookies (or surprises) at Ruggles; a Cadbury bunny at British Isles; bite-size pieces of Hershey's, Snickers, and M&Ms at Cloud 10 Creamery; a tasting square of imported French or Belgian chocolate at Chocolat du Monde; and tastings of white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate at Sweet Paris Creperie. The six tasting chocolates come from local retail outlets, manufacturers, and chocolatiers that vary each week.
We do not include the cost of other food and beverages in the tour price. As a result, you can choose to purchase some tiny treats or pounds and pounds at each of our five stops. We promise not to count the calories.
We recommend that you have a good breakfast before the tour. There is such a thing as too much chocolate on an empty stomach. And some water at each stop cleanses the palate.
Please wear comfortable walking shoes and dress for the weather since we will spend time walking through the Village. We do the tour rain or shine and hot or cold, unless the weather is dangerous.
Ruggles Cafe Bakery (View)
2365 Rice Boulevard
Houston, TX 77005
|Minimum Age: 12|
|Kid Friendly: Yes!|
|Dog Friendly: No|
|Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!|