A weekend treat

I wanted to get out of the city yesterday to visit somewhere not too far away. I had thought originally that I would visit Warstein - where Warsteiner beer comes from - thinking that it wasn't too far away. When I realised it was actually about a 4 hour drive, I gave that idea up in favour of a shorter, sweeter trip.

Instead, I made the 20 minute drive to Waldenbuch, the home of Ritter Sport, the chocolate bar famous for being square. I parked up in the first parking that I saw, not wanting to have to pay for parking in a car park (which I did before Christmas when I visited Tübingen [my photos] with my parents) when parking on the streets is free for most of the weekend. Wandering up into the town, everything was pretty much closed and the centre deserted. Walking up the hill to the Schloss at the top - which turned out to be a museum of the region's folk history - I couldn't see the Ritter Museum, which was the main point of my visit. I considered going into the folk museum as it sounded quite interesting, but first on my priority list was finding the chocolate maker. Luckily the Schloss was at the top of the hill so had a good view over the surrounding area, meaning I could easily spot the steam rising from the chocolate factory.

With some Chocolate Factory songs in my head, I walked back down the hill and over towards the source of sweetness. I was impressed to find, when I got there, that the exhibition was free and open to everyone. It talked about the origins of cacao, through to the origins of Ritter Sport (the practical, square chocolate bar that fits in your pocket), the processes they use to make their chocolates and the changes in branding over the years.

I never understood, until yesterday, how they filled chocolate with other fillings. I didn't know that they froze the trays, let the outer layers of chocolate stick to the tray and then pour the excess out before pouring the other filling in. That works with bar type chocolates, but how do other manufacturers do it with less regularly shaped things like Maltesers that presumably aren't made in trays?

Of course you can't visit a chocolate factory and not come away with some merchandise, can you? One of the last parts of the exhibition is a little chocolate dispenser that consists of a truck that drives through a factory, picks up a randomly flavoured chocolate bar and then drives round to dump it into the dispensing chute. The queue was full of kids, but I wasn't ashamed to join. After all, I can't turn down free chocolate. One woman was grinning at the fact that I was the only 'grownup' in the line, but what did I care. After enjoying my rum and raisin miniature, I left to visit the shop and pick up some more. I didn't come away with too many, but bought a few bags of little choccies and a pile of the normal Ritter Sport bars - they were cheaper than the supermarket so that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.


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