Sunday, November 27, 2005

Birthday Chocolate

I celebrated my birthday this week. Yes, the whole week! I believe in birthweeks rather than birthdays, I love extending celebrations! Of course, it also falls at Thanksgiving and end of exams for my (dwindling numbers of) studying friends so it makes slightly more of an excuse to carry on celebrating. I celebrated by eating expensive chocolate every evening. And also by hiring a room at the Imperial China in China Town for dinner and karaoke with 40 fabulous friends. It was an entertaining evening! The food was absolutely delicious and the room was gorgeous. Fortunately the staff were more than happy to accommodate my request to bring in trays with the best chocolate brownie in the world that I had ordered from Flour Power and picked up at Borough Market earlier that day. Yes, I realise it might sound a little arrogant to buy and bring my own birthday cake but two of my friends had their birthday on the Sunday so it was with the intention of acknowledging them that I bought the cake (…and because I really wanted to eat brownie for dessert!!). Strangely enough, the third tray disappeared… As long as it was enjoyed that’s ok with me.

Friday, November 04, 2005

An Evening with chocolate connoisseur, Chloe Doutre-Roussel

“We are here to enjoy as many pleasures as possible.”

What a philosophy! I love it. OK, so I may be paraphrasing slightly but the light and enthusiasm that radiated from this wonderful woman was infectious. Yes, I may be biased because it is chocolate that lights her up so much, but this softly-spoken woman really did have a lovely attitude to life. She really does eat ½ kilo (a pound) of chocolate a day. I’m sure that’s why she’s so positive! She only eats high quality chocolate and only bars. Every few days she might have a truffle, but for her that is not really chocolate. And she only has milk or dark. She balances all this chocolate with an otherwise predominately low-fat diet. She loves good fruit and vegetables and almost never has fried foods or other sweets. She says she doesn’t like to because they spoil her appetite for chocolate for too many hours!

Chloe is a true chocolate connoissuer. She lives and breathes chocolate and did before she was paid to do so. Fortnum and Mason really are blessed to have someone so knowledgeable as her as their chocolate buyer. And their range of chocolate is beginning to reflect her expertise (although, as she said, she can only change one thing at a time!). She just released her book The Chocolate Connoisseur. I have it and love it. Essential reading for the true chocoholic.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Jenny and the Chocolate Factory

As part of Chocolate Week, I visited the L’Artisan Du Chocolate factory today.

Possibly the happiest day of my life…

The intoxicating smell as you walk in the door… An hour and a half of education in the mastery of chocolate as expert chocolatier, Gerard Coleman, guided a small group of us around his pride and joy…

I would reason that there are few chocolatiers in the world with more passion than Gerard. His immense love for chocolate glowed from him and the product of this devotion is truly some of the best chocolates in the world. This is quality food at its absolute pinnacle. Gerard uses only the best and freshest ingredients in his products and as a result his chocolates reflect a true and realistic shelf life of three weeks. Of course, who would want to keep them that long anyway?

As a fan of business systems (if you are ever thinking of setting up a business you must read E-Myth Revisited) I was supremely impressed with the efficiency and systemetisation of the L’Artisan factory. This is not to say the chocolates are not carefully crafted and made with love, rather that machinery is incorporated to ensure precise measurements and temperatures are used every time to guarantee consistency of flavour and texture. If it wasn’t for Gerard’s pride and obsession for quality that has him at the factory every single day quality testing (tough job that one!) he could very easily let the system create the chocolates.

Thank god for chocolatiers like Gerard.

My day was rounded off by attending a charity Brazilian night. Complete with dance lessons, performances, Capoeira demonstrations, Brazilian finger food and a Chocolate fountain… Unfortunately the nature of how these work means the chocolate itself can’t be made from high quality ingredients, but they do look so pretty!