A writer sharing travels, experiences, a love of festivals & events. Life is a journey and I hope to inspire others. Visit my blog at https://www.travelwithirenke.blogspot.com
Published June 13th 2019
The total chocolate experience
Upon entering the driveway into the House of Anvers, you could easily think that you were encroaching on someone's private property in regional Tasmania. The main house looks residential, however, it is a stylish 1931 Californian bungalow set in 2.2 hectares of gardens and home to a wonderful chocolate experience.
Located just 8kms south-east of Devonport at Latrobe in Tasmania's north, you are in for a treat with this chocolate factory that also houses a cafe, a gift shop and a fascinating museum taking you through the history of chocolate.
We arrived quite hungry and in time for lunch, so our first stop was the cafe. Inside amazing aromas filled our nostrils and a cosy wood heater warmed the room. There was a little breeze outside but the sun was shining on this beautiful autumn day so we decided to eat at a table in the garden.
We were met with a friendly smile and our waitress took our orders. My husband chose a toasted sandwich, the Corned Beef & Green Tomato Chutney with smoked Ashgrove cheddar, salad greens, red onion and tomato on wholemeal sliced pipe loaf ($8.50). It went down well satisfying the hunger pains, whilst my Chicken BLT on toasted Turkish bread with hand-cut potato wedges and homemade tomato relish ($20) did the same.
The Chicken BLT - small but enough when leaving room for chocolate later
I almost didn't go with the Chicken BLT as I thought it would be too filling. I didn't need to worry as it was small in size. It was perfect as I wanted something light so I could indulge in chocolate tastings later. On the downside, at $20, I thought it was overpriced.
Other items on the lunch menu include empanadas, red pesto gnocchi, Cradle Coast pie and smoked salmon roulade. It's not a big menu but it's an interesting one. Drinks are plentiful and we engaged in cappuccinos and cider. A choice of wines and Tasmanian craft beers are also available.
Lunchtime was busy and disappointing was the time we waited after our order had been taken. From what I've since read online, breakfast is a quieter time to go and a whole lot better with decadent items taking your taste buds on a delicious journey. In traditional European style, there's Belgian waffles, Stollen (fruit loaf), and chocolate desserts amongst bacon & egg dishes. A range of teas and espresso coffees lift you up, whilst hot chocolates in different flavours add to your indulgence. For mid-morning or afternoon breaks, try a cake from the gateaux selection or a platter of chocolates (for the serious chocolate lover).
With lunch done, we headed inside to see workers going about their daily business in the factory. You can watch them pouring chocolate, tempering it and moulding it, from various windows. From fine couverture chocolates to truffles, pralines, fudge and more, the world's finest and rarest cacao and chocolate (Maranon) is used here with fresh Tasmanian cream, pure butter, exquisite liquors and natural flavours.
Working here would certainly make you a chocoholic if not already
Alongside the factory is the museum with its displays, taking you from the Aztec Indians to the 1700s when chocolate was only consumed as a liquid. Moving through to 1875 when Henry Nestle mixed chocolate with milk and to present day and the chocolate we know today, there's a lot of interesting items and facts on the chocolate making trade. See the tools used in making chocolate, including chocolate moulds through the ages, and colourful old tin containers you may have seen in your grandmother's or great grandmother's kitchen. A DVD is also available to view, allowing you to see what is behind the process of producing a fine chocolate. Oh, and don't miss the unique chocolate sculpture in the corner.
Last but not least we headed outside again to take in the beautiful scents of the front garden before venturing into the tasting centre with its retail shop. Chocolate from wall to wall was upon us, from bags of goodies to boxes of goodies, single bars and blocks to single bite-sized pieces, and chocolate eggs gift wrapped in cellophane and adorned with ribbon (at the time, perfect with Easter just around the corner).
We tasted several pieces, including some ruby chocolate that was new and fruity. It got my attention for being different and I had to splurge on it along with melt-in-the-mouth truffles, flavoured fudge and pralines. Our purchases were our sweet heaven for the remainder of our road trip around Australia's Apple Isle.
House of Anvers also has a stylish, state-of-the-art garden conservatory suitable for private functions. They cater to different budgets and needs, specialising in corporate meetings, product or presentation launches and small weddings with the latest tech equipment provided free of charge.
Plenty of parking is available, along with toilets and credit card facilities, at this establishment (open 7 days, excluding some public holidays) located on the Bass Highway.
Overall, despite the timing of our service and the pricing of some items, I still recommend a visit to Anvers. The highlights for me were certainly the museum of captivating objects, the gardens and the chocolate tasting centre, and they far outweigh the issues.