There’s a reason to cross over into “the avenues” of the West Valley, and it has nothing to do with football. It’s chocolate and lots of it. White, dark, milk, with nuts or surrounding a gooey caramel center — you name it and you’ll find it at Cerreta’s Candy Co.
“There’s never such a thing as too big a chocolate,” Maricia Cerreta says as she lifts a 10-pound block of custom-made chocolate and shows it to a crowd of candy lovers gathered for a tour of the landmark factory in downtown Glendale.
For almost 30 years Cerreta’s has produced its signature line of chocolates including the popular French mints (the green ones), gooey caramels and dark chocolates that are “good for your heart.” This weekend Cerreta’s will open its doors to the public during the Glendale Chocolate Affaire.
“This whole area will be open,” says Cerreta, waving her hand toward the impressive-looking machines that melt, mold and refrigerate the company’s confections. “They can come behind the wall and see how the chocolate is made.”
Visitors to Cerreta’s during Chocolate Affaire will see white chocolate pretzels running along Lucy’s Line.
“Ladies love the white pretzels,” says Cerreta. “The pretzels are salty and crispy. The saltiness takes away from the sweetness of the white chocolate.”
A trolley will transport participants from the factory to the festivities in historic Caitlin Court, where more than 40 chocolate vendors (including Cerreta’s) will sell confections such as chocolate-strawberry kabobs, chocolate-covered popcorn, cheesecake, apples and chocolate-dipped bananas. Chocoholics with ideas of their own can head over to the chocolate fountain and dip marshmallows, Twinkies, Rice Krispies treats, Key lime pie and anything else that piques the imagination.
Children’s activities will include hands-on arts and crafts, face painting and a rock-climbing wall.
When the calendar page turns to February, chocolate festivals pop up all over the state. If you’re interested in taking your chocolate odyssey on the road, consider these festivals:
Sixteenth annual Scottsdale Fine Art & Chocolate Festival: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 9-11 at the Scottsdale Pavilions, Indian Bend and Pima roads. More than a dozen chocolate companies will serve everything from smoothies to chocolatecovered fruit to fresh-baked pastries. $2. (480) 837-5637 or www.thunderbirdartists.com.
Bisbee Chocolate Tasting: 6 p.m.
to 9 p.m. Feb. 10 at the Copper
Queen Library, 6 Main St., Bisbee. $10. (520) 432-4232 or www.discoverbisbee.com.
Language of Flowers Flower Show & Chocolate Tasting: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 10-14 at Boyce Thompson Arboretum, 37615 U.S. 60, near Superior. Sample Cerreta’s candy for 50 cents a piece from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Admission is $7.50 adults, $3 children age 5-12. (520) 689-2811 or (520) 689-2723 or http://arboretum.ag.arizona.edu/location.html.
Chocolate Lovers Festival: Feb. 14-18 at the Verde Canyon Railroad, 300 N. Broadway, Clarkdale. Ride in a Pullman-style coach or first class while indulging in chocolate and the view of the Verde Valley. $89.95 per person. Reservations required. (800) 293-7245 or www.verdecanyonrr.com.