Thursday, February 24, 2011

Chocolate Extravaganza and Australia Farewell

My final night in Adelaide was spent with a fellow American, now a South Australia resident with a most delicious business. 

Terena Blanton-Downs moved to Australia after she fell in love with a businessman visiting her native Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, home.  That was nearly a decade ago and she has used that time to build Cocolat, a chain of dessert cafes dedicated to chocolate.  In her three locations she sells delectable chocolate candies, cakes, cookies, crepes, drinks (from coffee to martinis) and more.  The Cocolat Rocher Gelati recently received the 2011 Champion Award at the Australian Grand Dairy Awards, recognizing it as the best ice cream in the country.

While I sat with the delightful Terena, listening to the story of how – as a single mom – she brought her son halfway around the world to build this business, and how she wants to expand, but will not do so unless she can guarantee quality control over the fine chocolate ingredients, she persuaded me to sample more a table full of chocolate products, only letting me leave when I promised to stop by their Adelaide Airport location in the morning for chocolate waffles! 

It was the airport I would be heading as I was leaving Australia after my three week stay.  I bid farewell to the Crowne Plaza Adelaide and hello to the waffles waiting for me at the airport.  They were delicious, as was the latte (non-fat, of course).  I was again impressed with Qantas’ domestic product as I flew from Adelaide to Sydney.  Snacks, drinks and helpful flight attendants came along with the television shows on a flight that was just under two hours.  It was an easy transfer in Sydney to the International Terminal and I had five hours at the airport to catch up on some work before boarding my flight back to the United States.  I had a bit of Margherita Pizza at Prego (very good, with lots of cheese) since I knew it would be a long time before I was on the flight and having dinner.

I wasn’t aware of my upgrade to Premium Economy on Qantas until just a few minutes before boarding and then I immediately experienced the benefits as I joined the first and business classes on the way to the top floor of the Airbus.  I had never sat on the top before and it felt a bit strange, but I soon felt the benefits of this class as I realized there were only about 50 passengers on this whole level with about a dozen workers attending to our every need.  I had a glass of Charles Heidsiek Brut and a menu in my hand before I knew it, and I quickly settled in for the next 14 hours.

The Premium Economy seats are a bit bigger than those in Economy and also have a slightly deeper recline.  The menus offer more choices in both food and drinks, including anytime sandwiches and snacks.   When dinner was served, it was a fish course (which I couldn’t eat because of allergies) or Beef in a Stout Sauce (which I wasn’t crazy about), so I requested a toasted sandwich.  I picked a vegetarian option and it was a wonderful combo that included artichokes and grilled eggplant with hummus on a warm ciabatta.

I settled in to catch up on some films (I love Qantas “Oscar” channel, with every winner from every year) and some sleep.  Before I knew it, I was back in the United States and the end of my Australia adventure.

I would like to give a big thanks to those who contributed to making my Australian trip a reality and, in this case, it took an Army of hard workers….

Tourism Australia                                           
South Australia Tourism Commission   
Tourism Victoria                                                      
Barossa Tourism                                              
Tennis Australia   

Pernod Ricard/Jacob’s Creek Wines  
Chandon Wines   
De Bortoli Wines    
Chateau Yering 

The Langham Hotel 
Healesville Animal Sanctuary
Wagstaff Public Relations                           
PEPR Publicity                      

Laura Davidson Public Relations                                          
Brandman Public Relations


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