February 24, 2014 Chocolate Tour with Old Town Trolley
This past weekend I was invited to go on a chocolate tour with Old Town Trolley Tours – they’re now in their 16th season! You’ve probably seen those orange and green trolleys zipping around town. Most people use Old Town trolley as a hop on hop off tour of the city, but on Saturdays, they offer a chocolate tour that leaves from their shop near the common (Boylston and Charles St.) We’re greeted by Brian, the depot manager, and we receive a great little gift bag that they give out to all chocolate tour participants. Inside, they have a few samples of Taza and Ghirardelli chocolate along with some additional coupons. This was a great way to spend a weekend afternoon – even if you live in Boston, play tourist for the day! Old Town Trolley offers a Hometown Pass where Massachusetts residents ride free when they are accompanied by a full paying guest.
Chocolate tours run from January to April, and leave at 11:30am on Saturdays. The tour will make three stops: Top of the Hub, The Omni Parker House and Cafe Fleuri at the Langham Hotel. Round trip the tour is about 3 hours. We luck out with an unseasonably warm day, one perfect for this kind of expedition.
Meet Jeff, our trolley driver and tour guide. In between stops, he gives us a brief history of chocolate and some fun facts! Jeff was informative and personable – a great mix for this kind of job! See the Favecast here: http://favecast.com/CfKQuvy18s
First stop is the Top of the Hub. We get dropped off at the Sheraton hotel and meet our guide who will bring us up to the restaurant. We have to walk through the hotel and the Prudential mall to get to the elevator bank that will take us up 52 floors!
On the left, we have Executive Pastry Chef Tak Kuen “Tommy” Choi and on the right, our celebrity chef tour guide. Chef Choi began his career in his native Hong Kong. He started his career in the States at Rialto in 1994. He has been at Top of the Hub since 1995 and has received numerous accolades.
Stop number 2 on the tour is the Omni Parker Hotel, home of the Boston Cream Pie. Founded by Harvey Parker in 1855, the Omni Parker House is the oldest and longest continuously operating hotel in the United States. For all you ghost enthusiasts, the ghost of Harvey Parker has been known to roam the halls of the 10th floor annex. Or how about in 1949, a man died in room 303, and the scent of whiskey sometimes reappears in the room. There’s even talk of the elevator that is called to the 3rd floor and no one is ever there – some suspect it is the ghost of Charles Dickens who stayed on the third floor in the old Parker House in 1867!
The hotel is steeped in history: Veitnamese leader Ho Chi Minh served as a baker in the bakeshop from 1912 to 1913 and Malcolm X was a busboy in the early 1940’s. Numerous icons have stayed at the hotel: John Wilkes Booth, Bill Clinton, James Dean, JFK, John Kenneth Galbraith, Ulysses S Grant, BB King, Bob Hope, Ben Affleck and many more! In 2008, the hotel went through a $30 million restoration, helping to blend modern day amenities into the hotel without losing its historic charm. See my Favecast here: http://favecast.com/24ceLNrtu6
Did you know that the Boston Cream Pie is the Massachusetts state dessert? It beat out the Toll House cookie, the Fig Newton and Indian Pudding. For those of you not familiar with Boston Cream Pie (which is really a cake, not a pie), it is two layers of sponge cake, filled with custard and topped with chocolate ganache. See the original recipe here.
Our final stop is the Cafe Fleuri in the Lagham Hotel. This year, the chocolate bar is celebrating its 25th anniversary. For this special occasion, Chef Ryan Pike presented us this year with “Decades of Decadence,” a buffet featuring the most popular desserts from the past 25 years.
Chef Pike graduated Newbury College in 2003 and in 2007 accepted the job of assistant pastry chef at Top of the Hub where he worked under chef Tommy Choi. He eventually moved to the Lagham and moved up from assistant pastry chef to head pastry chef in just around 2 years.
An adult chocolate cocktail menu features cocoa infused martinis such as the “chocolate decadence” with raspberry vodka, dark chocolate Godiva liqueur and Frangelico. You can also order a “white Coco” with vanillla vodka, dark chocolate Godiva and white creme de cacao.
They also offer a crepe station and a cold stone ice cream station where you can mix in any number of toppings. See my Favecast here: http://favecast.com/2ACEQrt18I
Top of the Hub
800 Boylston Street, Boston, MA
In the Omni Parker Hotel, 60 School St., Boston, MA
See their website and menu here.
In the Langham Hotel, 250 Franklin Street, Boston, MA
See more information here.
For more information about booking a tour, please see Old Town Trolley’s website.
**Disclaimer, I received two tickets to the Boston Chocolate Tour in exchange for writing this post. All opinions are my own.