Hazel Mountain Chocolate: Yield to Temptation

The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it…

I have seen that Oscar Wilde quote scrawled across pub and cafe walls all over Ireland. I suppose it’s good for business; if you’re trying to decide between one more pint of Smithwicks and going home, those words might inspire you to buy the pint.

As for myself, I don’t spend a lot of time in pubs these days. (What was that? A collective gasp from my American friends?) It’s true. I spend more time driving around looking for the real Ireland, the one found on roads my GPS doesn’t recognize. And you know, temptation can even strike in the middle of nowhere!

Between Galway and Doolin on the Wild Atlantic Way, a Burren Chocolatier sign points down one of those lazy roads, coaxing you to take a quick detour. I have driven by it countless times since 2012, and every time I tell myself, “Nope. You are not going there. You’ll end up with a bag full of chocolates, and you’ll say they’re gifts, but that’s a lie. They’ll be gone before you make it back to the B&B. Don’t turn down that road!”

However, I can only drive by a sign pointing to chocolate so many times before turning my car in that direction. A few weeks ago, I finally did it. I turned, and I don’t feel the least bit guilty about it! I’d yield to Hazel Mountain Chocolate over and over and over again too… I even have some good reasons.

Located in the rugged foothills of the Burren, it’s close to places like Doolin, the Cliffs of Moher, and Poulnabrone dolmen. I drove through 6,000 years of history to get there.

Hazel Mountain Chocolate has a cafe, shop, and factory. Whether you choose to eat in the cafe or simply snag a couple of truffles in the shop, you can enjoy it indoors to satisfy your frilly feminine sensibilities or head outdoors to admire the County Clare landscape.




Cake! And Everything is Gluten Free!
The cafe had a gluten and dairy free lime and blueberry cakeI couldn’t say no to that! Neither could you, even if you’re not on a restricted diet. Plus, all cakes and pastries are made in their kitchen with locally sourced ingredients, whenever possible. They taste especially good with a cup of tea.

I’ve gotten a lot of good home decor ideas in Ireland.
Strawberries and walnuts are one of my favorite combinations. And yes, even this is gluten free!
I’l take the whole cake, please.


A slice of heaven.


Bean to Bar
When I finished my cake and tea, I visited the chocolate shop and had a little conversation about cocoa beans.

Hazel Mountain’s beans are imported directly from cacao farmers and then prepared on site. The process of converting beans into chocolate bars takes about one month, but it ensures consumers are getting some of the finest chocolate in Europe. I liked being able to watch employees make the truffles through the glass.





I resisted the temptation to buy one of everything and purchased ONE dark chocolate bar, which I opened as soon as I got in the car. After devouring one square, I packed the rest away. I would later enjoy it slowly, one square at a time, with a glass of wine back in Sneem.

I think Oscar Wilde would approve.

Rhubarb and pink pepper gave my chocolate a bit of a bite.
Rhubarb and pink pepper gave my chocolate a bit of a bite.

The Ogham


I’m a sentimental girl, an incurable romantic prone to fits of nostalgia. Because of this, I have booked four trips to Ireland looking for…I don’t know. Lost love? A little white cottage with a thatched roof in which I can dream and write? The perfect travel photograph? An actual leprechaun or a metaphorical pot of gold?

I’m the girl who wanders the beaches of the Wild Atlantic Way, collecting shells and rocks. (Choose any jacket from my closet, and you’ll find grains of sand in the pockets.) I’ll pull over every hundred yards or so in County Kerry to capture a memorable vista with my camera. Live music in pubs makes me cry because every song sung in Ireland emanates from the soul of the earth and possesses me. I can’t explain it; it’s something you have to feel.

You know what isn’t romantic to me? Souvenir shops. Mass-produced trinkets or clothing in one of Ireland’s 40 shades of green. If I have to buy it, or it came from some factory in China, I don’t want it.  In fact, I don’t even budget for souvenirs. So, it was a big deal that I bought two of them this past October.

One was not my fault. I’d fallen under the enchantment of a Spanish busker crooning out the most beautiful rendition of Hallelujah in the middle of Grafton Street, and, wiping tears from my eyes, turned over my last ten Euro to buy his CD. Now that I’m home, though, and the thrall has lifted, the CD makes me laugh because his Spanish accent reminds me of Antonio Banderas singing Livin’ La Vida Loca as Puss in Boots and nothing at all of that night in Dublin.

Druid Guy
Photo Credit: My Sister, Carole (I was too busy photographing his hands)

My second souvenir was a pewter pendant with my name stamped out in ancient Ogham script. Yes, it’s totally touristy. Locals don’t do this, but there was this guy sitting in front of Poulnabrone Dolmen in County Clare, and he had this Druid air about him, a table full of tools, and a good story about how he was an artist and got robbed while sleeping on the streets of Galway this one time… Pull at my heartstrings! Good-bye 20 Euro.


Ogham gets it’s name from Ogma, the Celtic God of Eloquence and Literature, and it was a form of writing used in Ireland between the 4th and 7th centuries.


Ogham, thought to have magical overtones, was common among the Druids. How could I resist buying a pendant with a magical language on it?

I suppose the real story is, though, that I have a soft spot for artists who are simply trying to eke out an existence. I picture them back at their meager apartments or the couches on which they surf in the homes of friends or tired relatives who wish they’d pick a real career, and I feel sorry for them. So I buy their wares and hope they can continue to create and find happiness.

Like I said, incurable romantic.