While toughing it out through what felt like the storm of the century when touring Leiden, Stein and I decided we needed to escape the rain and get a warm afternoon treat. We hopped into a Bagels & Beans to take shelter. I didn't think I would get anything, but then thought...aw, it is vacation. I should indulge! I decided to get a hot chocolate and holy cow...what a fantastic treat! This is what arrived at our table.

Mmmm...whipped cream! And what was the little treat to the left? I figured it was just a bonus candy. Stein was always getting little cookies and candies along with his coffee and espresso. I thought this must be one of those free little treats. I unwrapped it and saw that it was a cube of chocolate on a stick. Hmmm...?

Well, I figured, great...a piece of chocolate! I set it aside and went for what usually is my favorite part of the hot chocolate experience. Whipped cream of course. Well I went to dig in with my spoon and felt that there was a dish beneath the cream. Removable whipped cream...strange. I lifted off the saucer and suddenly the mystery was revealed. The cup was filled with hot steamed milk. Hmmm....I must mix in the chocolate on the stick! Brilliant. I proceeded with excitement and wondered what the finished product would be like.

After mixing in the chocolate, I added the side of whipped cream and went in for the kill. This had to be good! It looked perfect.

Oh man, was it ever perfect. I swear to you, it was the best hot chocolate I ever had in my life. Rich and creamy, with the perfect blend of bittersweet chocolate. Nothing like the powdered stuff or the concoction made with chocolate syrup. This was pure heaven.

I slurped it down in a hurry and felt like a giddy little girl. I was in love. I had to cry out my favorite Dutch word..."lekker" (aka "yummy")! All that warm chocolate goodness prepared me to venture back out into the rain. A fantastic discovery...now if I could only get the holy grail of hot chocolate in Seattle!

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