DIRNDLS AND PAPER HATS
Willy Wonka move over. You ain’t got nothin’ on Boehm’s Chocolates in Issaquah. I stopped by to see the little chapel on the grounds this weekend but it was all locked up. I was heading over to the store to ask about seeing it when I ran into a tour about to start. I love factory tours. Don’t you? So I just melded into the group, or should I say melted.
The lovely lady in the dirndl explained that they are not a chocolate maker but a candy maker and proceeded to a brief explanation of the components of chocolate and how it is made. After donning paper hats, like the soda jerks used to wear, we were off on our tour. But not before having a little taste of dark and milk chocolate.
First stop the candy maker’s workshop. There is only one candy master. This was the weekend so he was off today. But we did see the enormous copper kettles and wooden paddles over the gas fired stoves, the blender and cooling table. In the back room a gigantic log of rocky road was waiting. One fella commented this was his favorite, and it’s one of mine too.
In every room there were copies of famous paintings from different periods and styles. This seemed some what odd. But apparently they were done by one of the ladies who worked there. She had some skill.
Next to the enrobing room. We were regaled with a story of how new workers were initiated with a Lucy and Ethel style prank. “Looks like you are doing a good job here. OK, speed up the line” But the machine only works at one speed. Ha, ha.
Next the room where the centers are filled. Every thing is hand dipped and decorated with an identifying swirl, a dying skill apparently. We received more information about single bean chocolate and also received some more samples. Yum! On display were examples of molded figures both hollow and solid, we learned how they were done and saw the old metal molds used in Mr. Boehm’s time. If there is no tour happening when you are there you can see into this workshop through the windows.
THE SISTINE CHAPEL
The chapel is a replica of an actual Swiss chapel. It is dedicated to mountain climbers who have lost their life. It only seats about 50 people and is quite charming. The most unusual feature is a “mountain” around which the chapel was built. Newly married couples are invited to climb to the top and ring the chapel bell. A replica of the creation portion of the Sistine Chapel is overhead, painted by that same chocolate lady I mentioned before. She included a portrait of her granddaughter as one of the cherubs.
In the surrounding mini park are some stone sculptures and a fountain. A nice quiet place to sit and contemplate. So if you want to visit Switzerland but don’t have the time or means, you only have to travel as far as Issaquah to say you were there.
Visit Boehms Candies for more information.
PS I found out after the fact that you have to reserve ahead for a tour and there is a small fee. I didn’t realize this as I just happened upon the tour. A week later I was in Issaquah so I went back to Boehm’s to explain what happened and to pay for the tour after the fact. The clerk was very nice and would not accept payment at all for my mistake. A friend was with me as we were on our way to a meeting. I saw a postcard of the chapel and showed it to her. We bought our chocolate and left happy. Later at the meeting my friend was looking for something in her purse and discovered she still had the postcard. Oops, she hadn’t paid for it. Was she surprised. So the next time she was in Issaquah she went back to pay for the postcard. Of course she got the same treatment and was forgiven. They must think we are really crazy.
- Dubai’s newest craze: Camel milk chocolate (trueslant.com)