Chocolate, it seems, is becoming a serious business in Melbourne. No longer can we simply pop down to Woolies and grab ourselves a block to quietly gorge on while watching Downton Abbey. No, no, no – it has to be seriously considered as to what chocolate, from where and from what chocolatier we choose. Do we want a work of art? A sustainable option? Do we want preservative laden so we’re not forced to eat it immediately (let’s use that as our excuse for stuffing our faces instantly after purchase, ok?), or preservative free so we can maintain our new ‘I’m only eating organic this week’ diets? Above all else, however, chocolate should have a personality about it, which is exactly what the following chocolate stores offer.

Tucked away off Brunswick Street in Fitzroy sits Shocolate, a beautiful Parisian-style chocolate cafe. A bell rings quietly as you push through the heavy wooden door, only to walk into a wonderland crafted by a true artisan.

Shocolate is the brainchild of brother and sister duo Nick Yannopoulos and Pamela Raschella, who spent six months with a French chef to develop the range you see today.

The sheer beauty of Shocolate chocolates is overwhelming, from French lace eggs to the ‘Shocolate Dozen’ – 12 psychedelic, hand crafted couverture eggs. Must trys are the salted caramel (made with red salt from the Red Sea), the tonka bean, and the most mind-blowing chocolate you will consume: the extraordinary vegemite chocolate. Trust me on this.

If beautiful, polished Parisian fare isn’t your thing, never fear – Collingwood has the answer. Welcome to Monsieur Truffe. Sure, the name has a French tinge to it, and truffles are well known to originate from this area of the world, but that’s where the French love affair ends.

The retro fit out of the store acts like a warm, welcoming hug to all visitors. Retro typewriters, kitchen scales and tea pots decorate the heavy wooden shelving while the sweet smell of chocolate fills the nostrils of those relaxing with a coffee and a Monsieur Truffe pastry.

Hearty blocks of honest chocolate wrapped in thick brown paper lay like a fanned deck of cards along shelving. Cooking chocolate, melting chocolate, chocolate blocks, chocolate spread, hot chocolate…the list goes on, all using sustainably harvested cocoa beans from around the world.

Monsieur Truffe doesn’t offer a glass counter where shoppers eagerly push their faces up to the panes and drool over their next chocolate choice. Instead, only the ‘Clusters’ are out for inspection – small cylindrical shaped chocolates topped with everything from dried goji berries to almonds and chocolate shards (that’s right, chocolate on chocolate, people!). However, to feel the pulse of Monsieur Truffe, you simply must have what their name suggests. Hidden away from view (in the fridge) live truffles unlike anything else. The chill factor brings a different texture to the chocolate. With a heavy crack, eaters get to the soft, smooth inside of this decedent delight, while a plume of chocolate dust puffs into the air. Sweet, sweet happiness.

For those who have ticked both of these must-dos off the list and still want more, jump on the next Chocaholic Tour of Melbourne. With tours titled Chocolate Brunch Walk, Lovers Walk, Indulgence Walk and Delights Walk, it’s hard to imagine chocolate comatose can be avoided.

More information:

Shocolate, 3/296 Brunswick Street (Enter Via Johnstone St), Fitzroy, (03) 9415 6556

Monsieur Truffe, 90 Smith St, Collingwood, (03) 94163101

Chocaholic Tours, (03) 9686 4655 or check out their website for tour information

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