You might already know that the Asheville area is home to great wines and cheeses, but did you know it is also home to a fantastic chocolate factory? As a guest of Applewood Manor, you can spend a day in the tasting rooms of our local wineries, another enjoying the tasting rooms along the cheese trail and a third day at the French Broad Chocolate Factory & Tasting Room. What more could you ask for?
When Dan and Jael Rattigan met at a wedding in 2003, the course of each of their lives changed. They dropped out of graduate school, packed their lives into a 40-foot vegetable oil-powered school bus, and drove south to Costa Rica. There, they bought an abandoned cacao plantation and started on a very chocolatey journey that eventually brought the couple and their chocolates to Asheville where they first opened the French Broad Chocolate Lounge featuring their custom made chocolate and chocolate treats. You cannot miss it. If you go to Pack Square and see a long line of people, then you have found it, the French Broad Chocolate Lounge. It is a chocolate lover’s dream where you will find a delicious variety of hand-crafted artisan chocolates and pastries featuring superb local and organic ingredients. The Lounge is a place where you can sip a glass of wine paired with your favorite chocolate or discover how a creamy stout brew pairs with vanilla ice cream and their dark, dense cacao brownie. The Lounge is located at 10 South Pack Square and is open late making it a top spot for dessert after dinner at one of the 50 downtown restaurants.
Another option is to tour their second location, the factory, where the magic happens as cacao beans are turned into Chocolate. The French Broad Chocolate Factory & Café is located at 821 Riverside Drive, Asheville, NC 28801, just two miles from Applewood Manor. Tours are offered at 2pm and 4pm daily. The tour lasts about 45 minutes and includes a walkthrough where you can see each step of the chocolate making process. You will learn about the wonderful and sacred cacao tree; how farmers and producers grow, harvest, and process its cacao beans; and, of course, how the factory turns them into chocolate! According to The French Broad Chocolate website, their tour guides weave the story of French Broad Chocolate—from a magic school bus to a Costa Rican jungle café and then to the Chocolate Lounge & Chocolate Factory in the mountains of Asheville! And you get to taste the journey with a selection of their bean-to-bar chocolates. The tour and tasting prices vary but are usually $10.00 or less per person. To book your tour go to https://www.frenchbroadchocolates.com/pages/tours
Ashevillians love their chocolates and you will discover that as good as French Broad Chocolates are, they are not the only game in town. Others include the Chocolate Fetish at 36 Haywood Street, Kilwins at 26 Battery Park, and Asheville Chocolate at 25 Broadway Ave. The Fetish truffle bars are filled with layers of luscious Belgian chocolates. Their Ultimate Crunch Bar is a tantalizing mix of almonds, apricots, cranberries, hazelnuts, krispies, and pistachios in a blend of fine European chocolates. Kilwins is like a step back in time to an old-fashioned confectionary! And, Asheville Chocolate offers fine truffles and gelato, all made by hand in small batches in the shop.