A cup of hot chocolate at La Pasqualina, a lovely café and chocolate shop in Bergamo, is my winter treat. I could list many places where you can have a good hot chocolate, but La Pasqualina has something special. The taste of chocolate is more intense. The service is perfect. And the shop has a story that bring us back to the time when grandmothers spent their days baking, and their kitchen always smelled of melted butter and caramelized sugar. But first I want to spend some words on one of my favorite foods in the world: chocolate.
The Secrets of Chocolate
Everyone knows that cocoa comes from Central America, where it was considered as a precious product by the ancient Maya and Aztecs for many (good) reasons. Chocolate was a trade product, a symbol of wealth, but above all a plant with extraordinary healing powers. Cocoa, or Xocoatl (from which comes the word “chocolate”) was melted in water with the addiction of spices, vanilla and honey. It was sees as the drink of the gods. Sugar was not available, so chocolate didn’t taste sweet. In Europe, cocoa arrived in 1502, but the first chocolate bar was produced in Belgium in 1900. Recent studies have confirmed that dark chocolate is a super food full of antioxidants and able to increase blood flow. Besides, it is good for our heart and mood.
Hot Chocolate, Winter Comfort Drink
As winter comes, La Pasqualina becomes one of my favorite places for a relaxing afternoon in a hygge place. The minimal, white and green café is located in Bergamo Bassa, right in the city center. On Saturday afternoon it’s always busy with people coming for a cup of chocolate or tea, a slice of cake or a smoothie. Chocolate lovers will appreciate their hot dark chocolate with or without milk, a heavenly drink that warms you up even in the coldest days. There is also a classic, milder version for those who aren’t fond of bitter cocoa. I strongly recommend also their white chocolate with Matcha tea, especially if you happen to be a tea lover like me.
Tea and Cakes at La Pasqualina
The story of La Pasqualina is as sweet as the cakes on display inside the café. It all began many generations ago in a little town near Bergamo, with a family that had an inn. The only place in town with a television. You can read the whole story on their website, where you can also leaf through a beautiful photo book. It is a story of grandparents and grandchildren, of walks in the woods and homemade brioches. Brioches and cakes are in fact another good reason to pay a visit to La Pasqualina. Chocolate and green tea plumcake, margherita cake with olive oil, apple pie, carrot cake: all their baking goods are made with love and carefully selected ingredients. They also sell tea, which is served in Japanese teapots.
Before leaving, I never resist the temptation of buying their homemade cookies. They come in transparent packages and are made with kamut flour, Italian almonds and hazelnuts, chocolate chips and vanilla. The collaboration with a famous maitre chocolatier and the love for simple ingredients make all the products special. And they have ice-cream, too. I must say I prefer hot chocolate to ice cream here. Anyways, I’m always in a good mood when I exit the shop. After all, chocolate is a powerful mood lifter, isn’t it?
La Pasqualina is located in via Borfuro 1, a Bergamo. There’s another shop in Porto Cervo, Sardinia, and a third one in Almenno San Bartolomeo, near Bergamo, where the story began.