No Valentine’s Day is complete without chocolate, and the place to go for chocolate is Belgium. It’s been a national obsession for more than 150 years.
Book your flight and get ready to indulge. There are more than 320 chocolate stops scattered across the country in towns big and small. Sure, you know the regulars like Godiva, Leonidas and Neuhaus, but Belgium has a little chocolate secret: Centho. Their melt-in-your-mouth goodness is positively orgasmic! Ssshhh….don’t tell!
Is chocolate better than sex?
A Harris Interactive Poll reported that French woman preferred great chocolate to great sex! I’m guessing it’s the same for Belgian and American women!
Once you try Centho pralines, you’ll understand! As chocolate goes, Centho is the big “O” – obsession!
It’s a Belgian Secret
The shop lies on a quiet residential street nestled among brick, hillside homes in Duisburg, Flanders. This boutique chocolate company opened its doors in 2002, yet it’s one of Belgium’s best kept secrets!
World Chocolate Award winner
Run by charismatic Geert Decoster and his wife Els, Centho chocolate has been earning accolades. Maybe it’s their “Coca Cola secret,” the decadent Caramel-Salin. Geert calls this “World Chocolate Award” winner his secret weapon!
The master chocolatier breaks from chocolate-making tradition for this special creation. Instead of pouring caramel into a thick chocolate case as other chocolatiers do, he dips little chunks of caramel into the chocolate. He tops that ultra-fine layer of chocolate with a sprinkle of sea salt. Yum! The combination of sweet and salty is magical.
“Our chocolates create a completely different taste sensation,” he says. “Centho Chocolates sells fillings with chocolate, not chocolate with filling.”
Then, there is the Fragola, with its thin layer of wild strawberries finished with a ganache of Ivory Coast chocolate and tangerine zest, and the Sabato with freshly made orange marmalade and Madagascar chocolate, paired with strawberry, grapefruit zest and ginger. The list goes on and on.
In addition to their pralines, they craft exotic custom chocolates like bunnies for Easter or giant hearts for Valentine’s Day.
The Chocolate Master
Geert’s passion for chocolate is unparalleled. After six years at the Elishout School in Brussels, he studied at the Ecole de Bellouet in France. Then, he learned the technical aspects of chocolate with master chocolatier Jean-Pierre Richart. And he learned well! Your tastebuds will confirm it!
Want to know more about chocolate? Just ask. Geert shares his knowledge with all who visit the shop. Visit on a Saturday and you’ll even get a small cup of homemade hot chocolate — rich and sumptuous — accompanied by a sample chocolate of the day.
Expanding the magic
The company has a loyal following and a growing list of clients. My French teacher calls them the best chocolates in the world. I have to agree.
Centho has a new factory and store in Kampenhout, and chocoholics who don’t want to travel to Flanders can pick up their magic blue box of goodies at the Centho shop in Brussels.
Where Can I Get My Chocolates?
Friends who have discovered Centho Chocolates at Carrefours supermarkets in Belgium have made the Saturday trek to Duisburg to see the complete selection where they can choose a custom box. Geert and Els wrap it all up in their signature royal blue boxes, tied with a satin ribbon. You’ll even get an illustrated brochure explaining more about each chocolate. The presentation is almost as impressive as the candy. If you go, be sure to pick up some chocolate for friends — and then plan an extra day or two at the gym to work off the calories!