TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - Jan 29, 2014) - A card, flowers, and chocolate -- the three standard expressions of love on Valentine's Day. This year, the travel experts at Cheapflights.ca, the online leader in finding and publishing travel deals, want you to sweeten things up even more for your loved one. To help inspire you, the team had fun scouring the globe to come up with 14 heavenly candy lands around the world featuring sweet pleasures from near and far. Avoid the last-minute grocery store box of chocolates with something truly sweet, unique and exotic -- just like your sweetheart.
Since Valentine's Day falls on February 14, we present 14 candy lands that will inspire you to treat your lover to more than a simple box of chocolates. Start your sugar rush with these seven sweet spots from our list:
- Oaxaca, Mexico - Europe may have refined the production and artistry of chocolate, but Mexico is said to have played a crucial role in its evolution. Indeed the Mayans and Aztecs gave it near-religious significance. If you're looking for the roots of chocolate, pay a visit to one of the food markets of Oaxaca City in the southeastern state of Oaxaca, where you can sample fragrant hot drinking chocolate, often spiced with cinnamon and almond and sometimes served with pan de yema (eggy bread). Alternatively, visit the chocolate producers of the famed street 20 de Noviembre where you can choose the ingredients (or even bring your own) for a customized chocolate hit.
- Tokyo, Japan - Japan has a reputation for elevating inventions to the next level. The latest enhancement candidate? The humble Kit Kat. Tokyo's Seibu Department store has opened a specialized outlet selling seasonal gourmet editions of the iconic four-fingered wafer. Its first three limited editions are "Sublime Bitter" made with high-end coverture chocolate, Special Cherry Blossom Green Tea and Special Chili with a pepper cream filling. Kit Kat already has a special Kyoto Kit Kat variety, the garishly green two-fingered Matcha Green Tea -- a sweet hit with a bitter tea after taste. That should add some ceremony to the familiar Kit Kat break.
- Los Angeles, California, United States - From tea to something a little stronger, as we move to Jelly Belly's latest flavour: "draft beer" jelly beans. It sounds like the stuff of Homer Simpson's dreams rather than romance, but the new beer bean is said to have a "clean, crisp, wheaty" taste and is certainly a unique way to toast your loved one. If you're looking for some appropriate glitz and showmanship with your sugar rush, why not drop in on the tinsel town of candy stores - Sweet! of Hollywood Boulevard. Described as "the sweet spot for sweeties" or "30,000 square feet of candy craziness", this one's strictly for the brave, especially if you're bringing the kids. Boasting 300 types of chocolate bars and 250 types of lollipops (check out Lollywood -- get it?), it also claims to have the world's fastest gumball machine -- powered by a life-size red Ferrari. The shop has its own nod to sweet celluloid moments with a wall-to-wall marshmallow section featuring the Stay Puft marshmallow man from the 1984 film "Ghostbusters!" The Forever Valentine's section enables you to shop for your sweet all year long.
- Canada - After all that glitz, perhaps it's time to go back to nature with something altogether more raw and natural. Our Canadian candy fix embodies iconic elements for which the nation is best known: maple and very cold weather. Yes, we're talking maple taffy or "Sugar on Snow" as they call it in the States. Eaten from Eastern Ontario to Québec (where it's called tire d'érable), it's produced by boiling maple sap to a thick liquid that is then poured directly on (clean!) snow where it thickens. Just wait for that perfect moment when it's cool but still soft and scoop it up with a stick or fork. Now wait for it...
- India - Want to give your loved one something small, shiny and jewel-like but feeling the pinch in your wallet? Indian sweets (Mithai) covered in a thin layer of edible silver or gold leaf -- Varakh -- may be the answer. The shiny leaf commonly covers ubiquitous Barfi sweets. Available across India, they're made of condensed milk and sugar flavoured with fruit, nuts and exotic spices. The edible silver is considered an astringent and the gold an aphrodisiac in some parts, so this may be just the thing to get your lover in the mood.
- New Zealand - Jaffas, perky nanas, pineapple lumps and chocolate "fush". Yes, New Zealanders and, dare I say it, their Australian cousins, have turned the candy world upside down with some distinctly different sweets -- as anyone with an antipodean amour will know. But make sure you get the name right -- here they're called lollies, lover. The large number of sheep in New Zealand has made Kiwis the butt of many jokes. Tourist stores across the country have been capitalizing on this with lines of popular "poopy" candy -- "Sheep Droppings" and "Kiwi Poo" (or chocolate-covered peanuts and raisins to use their more simple term). You might not think they're particularly romantic, but what's a good relationship if you can't laugh at each other once in a while?
- London, England
To misquote: "He who is tired of London candy is tired of candy". As you might expect from the former capital of the British Empire, London, much like its British Museum, has managed to collect in one place some of the finest candy treasures from around the world. As an aside, the Museum's shop features an occasional line in history-themed candy; King Tut-shaped chocolate anyone? The West End department stores have extensive ranges and impressive displays: Check out Selfridges for Artisan du Chocolat's hot chocolate and bars ranging in flavour including Masala Chai, Mole Chili and Orchid & Orange blossom. Or, mix your vices and go for the Tobacco option. But, if you're looking for that unique gift for your loved one, take a look at Harrods or Piccadilly's Fortnum & Mason, which offer Colombian Chocolate covered Ants (they taste like peppery peanuts apparently - except with six legs) or Antlix lollipops. For candy aficionados of all sorts, the city's Covent Garden area is worth a visit. Hope & Greenwood is a new-fashioned sweet and homeware shop where, alongside flying saucers and jelly cherry hearts, you'll find newer treats like strawberry and ice cream candy floss. The area is also home to one of Hotel Chocolat's flagship stores, which roasts cocoa beans onsite, features a Cocoa Bar café and, alongside all sorts of edibles, a range of cocoa-scented perfumes. Alternatively, get yourself over to the company's cocoa-themed restaurant, Rabot 1745. If you're looking for something a bit more unusual, try the much-heralded artisan chocolatier Paul A Young, who has a store in nearby Soho that offers a smorgasbord of unusual and iconic taste combinations including chocolate and stilton -- and Marmite truffles. You'll either love 'em or...
Additional sugary destinations to make our list range from traditional spots in Europe to candy from a virtual world. To read the mouth-watering details on these and see the complete Cheapflights.ca's 14 Heavenly Candy Lands around the World, visit www.cheapflights.ca/travel/14-heavenly-candy-lands-around-the-world.
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