A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
After an extremely busy summer writing my thesis, having a holiday, visiting friends and family and packing up all my belongings, I had to say goodbye to Leiden for now and move back home for a bit. I had no idea the amount of stuff I’d accumulated over the last 4 years in leiden! It’s amazing what you can cram into boxes and suitcases when you absolutely have to.
So, I’ll be stopping my writing for the Leidener soon, after one or two more posts about life post-Leiden and my upcoming graduation ceremony… But for now, I wanted to write about something in Leiden I really recommend for newcomers and long-termers alike.
Zoen chocolate shop (41 Langebrug) is a hidden gem in the centre of Leiden. I think it has been open for a while, but tucked away slightly off my main walkways I hadn’t noticed it until a friend told me about a wonderous place, where chocolate is made in front of your eyes. The first thing you’ll probably notice when you walk into the shop is the range and diversity of objects, jewellery, textiles and furniture that fill the rooms. These are things that the owner has collected during his career as an anthropologist, and which he is now selling in addition to the chocolate he makes.
After this feast for the eyes, you will quickly find yourself drawn further into the shop by the strong, sweet and almost earthy smell of chocolate. You can smell it all through the shop, and I always follow my nose straight to the front desk to see what is on offer today. The chocolate is made from ground cocoa beans and sugar….and that’s it! Unless an interesting ingredient (like pepper, port, orange…) is added as an experiment. Last time I went I had some with peanuts in, which tasted like a gorgeously silky Reese’s peanut butter cup, only better. The chocolate is made right there in the shop, so if a new batch is being mixed, you might even get a spoonful of un-set chocolate to try.
There are many chocolate shops in Leiden, but this is the first one I’ve found that feels like an adventure in chocolate making. Instead of identical bonbons and bars, each time you visit you can try something new. And I honestly think the taste is better too – kind of thicker, and maybe a bit more gritty, reminding you that you’re eating something real and handmade. The opening hours are, however, few. Open on Friday and Saturday 1pm til 4pm, and then on Thursday nights as part of Leiden’s late night shopping. Perfect for when you get a chocolate craving on a Thursday night, or for picking up a treat on Saturday after the market. It also has a Facebook fan page, if you’re interested. Since I’m no longer there to enjoy it, I encourage you to go and indulge your sweet tooth on my behalf!