16 June 2023

Godiva brings royal Belgian chocolates to the Canberra Centre

| James Coleman
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Godiva chocolates

Row after row of chocolates at Godiva, in the Canberra Centre. Photo: James Coleman.

They’ve been the official chocolatiers to the royal court of Belgium since 1968, and now they have a presence in the Canberra Centre.

Godiva first came to Australia in December 2017, with a full-on café in Emporium Melbourne. We were told there would be more to follow and, sure enough, their next stop outside of Victoria is Canberra.

The new store opened next to Sushi Sushi on the ground floor, opposite the entrance to Coles, about two weeks ago, and according to staff, it’s already attracting crowds.

“There can be queues out the door on Friday and Saturday, especially for the ice cream,” the supervisor told Region.

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For a start, it’s Belgian.

Godiva founder Pierre Draps came up with the idea of running his own chocolatier, while meticulously crafting pralines in his Brussels kitchen in 1926. As for the name of his new venture, his wife took care of that.

Apparently, she had such long, lustrous hair her hairdresser anointed her ‘Lady Godiva’, in honour of the 11th century English heroine who famously rode her horse through the streets of Coventry in protest of excessive taxes, wearing nothing but her flowing locks.

Belgium has a long history with chocolate, dating back to when it imported cocoa beans from Africa’s plantations during the 1880s, well before anyone else in Europe. In 1884, it even legislated the minimum amount of cocoa chocolate must contain at 35 per cent, while neighbouring countries were at 32. And that’s before we come to the praline – the chocolate shell with a soft centre was invented here in 1912.

Nowadays, there are more than 500 chocolatiers in Belgium, and it’s one of the few countries to offer a full, multiple-year chocolatier training course. It’s also home to the largest chocolate factory in the world – the Barry Callebaut factory churns out about 1000 tonnes of chocolate every day.

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In light of all this, you’ll be ready for the prices at Canberra’s Godiva store.

For instance, the largest of their gift boxes, which contains a 12-strong selection of chocolates or truffles, costs $55.90. Or 71 grams of milk-chocolate-covered pretzels? That’ll be $9.90. An 18-piece gift box of cookies? $44.90, and that’s one of their best-sellers.

You’ll also be expecting quite the mind-blowing explosion when you hear that dull pop in your mouth, and the soft, flavoured centre oozes through the cracks on its chocolatey exoskeleton.

Unfortunately, I had to share the box with my colleagues, but I can confirm the crispy hazelnut praline is the best Ferrero Rocher I’ve ever had. And in the descriptive words of a man, the milk hazelnut heart is “really good”.

The other options are all equally lavish, but a straw poll of the office reveals some deeper flavours would be nice for the price.

Of course, most of this could be ordered online before Godiva set up shop in Canberra. So customers are also queuing for the soft ice cream, the chilled chocolatier drink, the hot chocolate, coffee and, for some reason, tea (who goes to a chocolatier and orders a spot of English Breakfast?). There are also enormous pretzels drizzled in chocolate.

And it’s easy to see why these offerings are popular, because it’s here you realise just how good the king of Belgium has it. They’re incredible.

Welcome to Canberra, Godiva. Nice to have you here.

Godiva in the Canberra Centre is open from 9 am to 5:30 pm, Monday to Thursday, 9 am to 9 pm on Friday, 9 am to 5 pm on Saturday and 10 am to 4 pm on Sunday.

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