Piece, Love & Chocolate – The Best Little Chocolate Shop in Boulder, Colorado

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” 
― Charles M. Schulz

If you’re a chocolate lover or strolling around Boulder with a chocolate lover, there’s one place you must go.

Piece, Love & Chocolate is a tasty surprise tucked away at the corner of 8th and Pearl St. It’s hard to spot if you aren’t paying attention, but it’s full of chocolate…so you should be paying attention.

Piece, Love & Chocolate
Keep an eye out for the excellent decor and the very tiny sign.

On a four-day trip, I only had time to stop there three days. What a tragedy! It’s full of any and everything chocolate, including truffles and other candy, cakes, brownies, cookies, pasta, and more. Bonus points for having gluten free options.

Chocolate Pasta
Chocolate pasta and pasta shavings

I’m not a huge candy eater, but I love hot cocoa. Lucky for me, it was a little chilly in Boulder and this place knows how to do hot cocoa. If you love dark chocolate, order the hot cocoa French style and then come back here and thank me. It’s unsweetened and is absolutely heavenly. I am currently suffering from withdrawl. They also offer hot sipping chocolate and icy hot chocolate, in addition to coffee, tea, etc. Wins all around! You can check out the full cafe menu here.

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The flavor isn’t the only reason to stop by the store. The decor is fun in all the right ways. Imagine Valentine’s Day meets tropical island.

Piece, Love & Chocolate Decor
See what I mean?

And they have a sense of humor, too! Check out this excellent nutrition knowledge out front.

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I love salad!

What can I say? It was love at first look…and taste. The service is excellent and the cashier definitely recognized me upon my second visit. I’m hoping to somehow recreate that French hot cocoa when it’s not 90 degrees in Dallas.

Tip: There’s parking just around the corner on 8th St. It’s the closest available and I believe it was $1.25/hour. It’s great if you aren’t going too far down Pearl. If you plan to explore the rest of Pearl Street Mall, the parking garage at 11th St. and Spruce is one of the garages closest to the West End.

Your turn – Have you stumbled upon any amazing chocolate shops while traveling?

 

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Gluten Free Eats in Banff, Alberta, Canada

Traveling gluten free is always a challenge, and Banff proved no different on that front. If you’re gluten free just because, it’s great- plenty of options. If you have to be more cautious, you can make it work with a few adjustments. Here are a few places and things I found that worked for me.

Nourish Bistro

Nourish Bistro is conveniently located on Bear Street right behind Banff Ave. Their focus is fresh vegetarian cuisine, but the menu is clearly labeled with items that are naturally gluten free or can be made gluten free. They offer indoor and outdoor seating, and the whole vibe is very laid back. After a four-hour plane ride and two-hour bus ride, all I wanted was a HUGE salad. They delivered.

I got a full size super food salad. Fresh herbs+micro greens, kale, mixed greens, nuts, seeds, berries, cucumber, avocado, flax and quinoa tossed in an apple cider tarragon vinaigrette. It was the most I paid for a meal in Canada, but it was bigger than it looks and the ingredients were incredibly fresh. I’d definitely go back.

Nourish Bistro

The Eddie Burger + Bar

The Eddie Burger + Bar is on Banff Ave, kind of around a corner off the street. It’s very small, but the food was great. Ordering made me a little nervous. They do have gluten free buns, but they cook them in the same place as the regular buns, so those are a no-go if you have celiac disease.

I decided to build my own burger with no bun. I had a burger with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mustard and bacon. I got a side salad instead of fries because the fries are not gluten free. Unfortunately, I ended up with a french fry in my salad. Since I was starving, I moved that off to the side and prayed there weren’t any hidden in the middle. The burger was delicious, so I’d give this place another try. I was just excited to eat real food, which didn’t happen a lot on this busy trip.

Eddie Burger

The Elk and Oarsman

The Elk and Oarsman was my favorite place by far, just because our waitress was so friendly and she was happy to double check on things with the chef. It also seemed like a fun spot to spend the evening, because live music started just before we left.

The restaurant does have a gluten free menu, but like most places I found, there are no procedures in place to avoid cross contamination. Since I was really just craving meat and veggies, I had an easy time working with the menu. I decided on the margarita chicken and got some extra veggies in place of the bruschetta.

Elk and Oarsman

There was just one last thing that really made a lasting impression on me in Banff…Starbucks! The group I was with decided to spend a morning there so everyone could relax and use the Wi-Fi. I figured I’d be able to have some tea, but then I saw it- a package of huge flourless chocolate cookies labeled gluten free.

*cue angels singing*

Gluten Free Starbucks Cookie

I wasn’t even hungry when I saw them, so I put them away to try later. When I finally did, I think I went into sugar shock. These things are SWEET, but delicious; and having lived on Epic bars, baby carrots and hummus for the majority of the week, the carbs were welcomed. As far as I know, these are not sold anywhere near me in Texas. We only have the rice crispy treats, so I may or may not have bought all of the ones I found later on in the Vancouver store…

I don’t think Banff was necessarily any harder to eat than most places I’ve been in the US. In addition to restaurants, you’ll also find that many of the grocery stores along Banff Ave. carry gluten free and dairy free items, including frozen meals, crackers, almond milk and more. Because of the way I was traveling, I found it easier and more affordable to stick to produce, bars and small packaged items, which there was also plenty of. Banff Provisions General Store was my personal favorite for healthier gluten free options. The staff was really nice and they’re actually the ones who pointed me towards Nourish Bistro for dinner.

If you’ve found anywhere else that’s gluten-free friendly, please let me know in the comments. I have a feeling it will be impossible for me to stay away from Banff for too long…

Restaurant Review: Gluten Free at Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City

I swear this is my last gluten free food post on Tampa, but if you require a gluten free diet, you know how helpful finding something like this online can be. So, here we go!

When I travel for work,  we’re usually scouting out venues and restaurants to use for events or to recommend to conference attendees. We headed to Columbia Restaurant in Historic Ybor City after we heard about all the history and the great Flamenco show. I did a quick Google search and saw they had a gluten free menu. Jackpot! I relaxed and enjoyed the ride there.

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I wish I’d have taken pictures of the inside of this location (they have a few other locations), but it was amazing. The walls are full of history- stories of people who have worked there more than 30 years, tons of family photos and numerous awards. The restaurant opened in 1905 and it’s Florida’s oldest restaurant, as well as the largest Spanish restaurant in the world. When I say it’s huge, I mean it! I’d highly recommend getting there a little early just to take a peek around the waiting area.

I’d also highly recommend the Flamenco show, which is only available at the Ybor City location. They have two evening shows every day but Sunday and it’s only $6 extra. There’s a huge room just for the show and the servers work to get most things taken care of beforehand so they aren’t interrupting your entertainment.

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The only reason I would say to skip the Flamenco show is if you want uninterrupted talking time during your meal. The show is noisy, but definitely not so loud it’s annoying. You can still talk but it takes some work to hear people. Just stuff your face and watch the show!

Speaking of stuffing your face, the gluten free menu is pretty large. Ask for a copy at the restaurant and you’ll see they also have a few other allergens listed, including tree nuts. I wasn’t too hungry, so I just went with chicken and veggies. It was great, but everyone raves about the paella so I’m sure you can’t go wrong there either.

ChickenAnd last but not least, if you’re a fan of wine, this is the place for you. They have a 265-page wine list that will keep you quite busy. The list itself has received honors and awards.

I’ll wrap this up simply by saying you should go if you’re in the area. I can’t speak to the other locations, but the original was just amazing- from service to food and entertainment. It would be a neat place to celebrate something or surprise someone with something a little different.

And now I am hungry…