Saturday, June 24, 2006

Cadbury's Chocolate Scare

All over the papers. Apparently the amounts are negligible and no one could contract the disease from the bars. I’m looking at the 250g block of Turkish Delight on my brother’s dresser, one of the potentially contaminated blocks. Really, the almost nonexistent possibility of salmonella is far less of a concern to me than the fact that Cadbury’s squeezes out the cocoa butter and replaces it with vegetable fats that

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A new season in Chocolate

I love what I do. I went to visit the shops on my tour today. To say hi and remind them of the tour scheduled for July 15th and I got to try some of the summer specialties that have just arrived. La Maison du Chocolat have got an incredible chocolate sorbet (dairy free and so refreshing) and an apricot and lavender sorbet that is equally delicious. The summer range of chocolates are only available by the boxed set but the sample box arrives next week. Watch this space for more!

In case you're reading this and you have no idea what the tour I mention is referring to: Check out

Monday, June 19, 2006

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!

Alton Towers has a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ride. We went for the rollercoasters and found the added bonus of this new ride. Meant for kids, it only opens to big people after 3pm. A distinct lack of edible chocolate, but still quite cool. If only these were real.. (I guess they wouldn't be fit for eating...) I love the idea of Willy Wonka's factory. Well, I have my tours I suppose - the next best thing!!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A wedding without Chocolate!

3 weddings in 4 months. The first by the water of the mouth of the Snowy River, the second in the ruins of a sugar mill in the Caribbean and today in a castle in England. The sun shone for all three. This was a beautiful day, lovely ceremony and fantastic food. I almost thought they would complete the ceremony without chocolate - the dessert was cheesecake and the cake the traditional fruit. Thank goodness there was chocolate with coffee.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Un-Common Chocolate

Mmm.. I was down by Clapham Common today looking for internet access and was recommended to a French patisserie on The Pavement just off Clapham High Street, right on the Common. While I was a little disappointed they said they didn't have net access I was grateful to the man who directed me there - and recommended the cakes. Not only do they have a gorgeous selection of cakes, pastries and breads they also have chocolates made by Valhrona just for them! I tried most of the ten or so on display and can thoroughly recommend the apricot and caramel. I was not a fan of the mint and raspberry. I'm so excited to have found another place to buy good chocolate!!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Paid to eat chocolate...

Way to get a kid's attention. I had the class today clambouring to do work experience with me. I have two years to grow my business large enough to let them! I do love this work.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Chatsworth Chocolate

England was treated to hot spell this weekend. Lazing under blue skies scattered with white wisps of cloud in the country was on the menu. Punctuated by dips in the swimming pool and hot tub. There seems to be a sad correlation between the weather and chocoloate consumption. The warmer the weather, the less chocolate I eat. At least durng the day! As with any good BBQ or dinner party (well, in my books) the chocolate boxes come around with the wine into the wee hours…

I love farm shops. As obsessed with food as I am, the highlight of my visit to ChatsworthHouse was the farm shop there. They have their own branded chocolate bars, which, though I tried, I couldn’t find out who actually makes them. They do make a chocolate beetroot cake which though it doesn’t taste particularly different I’m sure it MUST be healthier for you! (Let me tell myself that!!)

Chocolate is good for you!

I picked up a magazing on the weekend because on the cover it claimed “Chocolate that’s good for you.” The article quoted all sorts of interesting research which I was already aware of – in moderation good chocolate is good for you. What freaked me out, thouigh, was the box at the bottom of the apge that compared several brands for their “goodness”. The range was almost entirely of confectionairy – not chocolate! OK, allow me to climb on my high horse for a minute here please, a snickers is not real chocolate. It barely contains any resemblance of the good stuff that is in chocolate. If you are eating chocolate for health – but especially for pleasure – stick to quality dark chocolate, where the only ingredients are cocoa solids (or cocoa liquor), cocoa butter, sugar and vanilla. Only exception to this list is soya lecitithin which is just an emulsifier added to make it easier for chefs to use. The less processing that occurs during the chocolate production the more of the health benefits will be achieved. Dagoba, an American brand that can be found in Wholeoods stores in the States and Australia and Fresh and Wild in the UK, makes big claims to this. Domori, an Italian maker, make it their aim to minimise the alterations to the chocolate from pod to bar. Or, you could just eat raw cacao! Think I’ll save the information on that for another day!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Chocolate Food Porn (as Joe likes to call it…)

Today I went with my friend Joe to take photos of chocolate. OK, he took the photos, and I helped to move the chocolate into a better position. Mmm… chocolate. Pouring massive bags of chocolate buds onto the table… So much chocolate! A happy day… And I managed to keep my white skirt clean! There are more photos to be taken so, dear, oh, dear, we’ll be back again next Wednesday.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Leaving Georgia

Gosh, so much to say... what an incredible 3 days. These kids are just phenomenal. They have almost nothing and yet they are so willing to share what they do have. They shared back with us the sweets we had given to them. The boys carried my bags and picked me flowers, and even insisted I go through doors before them. Certainly not what I had expected. It's great to see that the work that the guys from Zest have been doing is really taking effect - this is not the picture that was painted for us. It was better than we had expected, yet still wasn't all roses and candy. In the past these orphanages have had no heating and no running water and it was standard that at least one child would die during the Georgian winter. Many of the kids were very shy and reserved to begin with, some of them really didn't want to know us, yet by the end of our time with each group every child was grinning. Though they appreciated the toys we brought them it was our attention that brought the best reaction from them, just to play with them and see them light up. When they began spontaneously hugging and kissing us... you could not help but be moved. I will be back.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The First Orphanage

At first I thought Georgia that was a long way to come for 3 days, especially, how much good could we possibly do in just 3 days? Now I see why it is only 3 days! It is an intense experience. For us and the kids. So powerful. We took the kids from the first orphanage out for the day. To McDonald’s first where, to my delight, they didn’t seem to like the food that much. They did love the brightness of the place, especially as we wandered around painting their faces and arms.

It’s unbelievable how quickly kids open their hearts to you. When we first walked into the building where they sleep and entered one of the bedrooms there appeared to be swarms of them. Entering blowing bubbles gave me instant popularity as they clambered to grasp the soapy spheres from the air. And then, after giving them the opportunity to blow the bubbles themselves I spent the next half an hour crouched amongst a fluxing group of kids ranging from two to twelve, coaxing some of the younger ones to try, ensuring some of the more confident ones let the others have a turn and endeavouring to learn all of their names. I think it was the latter that meant some of the quiet girls felt I was someone to be trusted and caused little Salomi to grab my hand as we walked out to the bus.

After McDonald’s we took them all to the park and finally returned them, filled with sugar, back to the orphanage gates. It felt almost cruel to have shown them a day of colour and laughter and love, to take them back to the grey concrete block which they would awaken to tomorrow, and probably every day after. For these kids cannot be adopted, they have no papers and therefore as far as most of the world is concerned, they don’t exist. I assure you, they exist. In all their sweet innocence, they exist to hold our hands, give us spontaneous kisses, sing to us and cry over scraped knees.

The same story with more photos can be seen at

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Arriving in Georgia

Funny how each country has its own smell. As we emerged from Tblisi airport (which involved passing through one small barn of a building, having our bags screened as we exited?!) I noticed the distinct difference in the air – the smell and the feel. Fresh, and a faint smell of spice. Still warm despite the darkness. We threw our suitcases into the back of an open-backed van with a shattered windscreen and piled ourselves into a converted ambulance and rattled through the early morning hours into the city and up into the hills beyond. We arrived at Nana’s house sans electricity, found our beds by candlelight and were promised a sleep in…

Today we go to the first orphanage. This orphanage is privately managed. Until Zest started coming here it didn’t exist at all, which is really heartening. We were given sleep over our coaching session so we will be heading in with only the briefest of briefing. Not normal procedure but because everyone in our group has done a fair amount of coaching before I’m sure we’ll manage fine.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Chocolate in Eire

Dublin has very pretty looking Chocolate cafes – Butler’s Chocolate Cafes. Basically they are chocolate stores (along the lines of Thorntons’) that also sell barrister coffee. I didn’t notice anything particularly special about their hot chocolates – but I didn’t try one so please tell me if I’m wrong. The nice thing is that with each coffee order you do get one chocolate. Still, I couldn’t find any chocolate more special in the centre of town. We asked in a few shops and were recommended to Thornton’s!! Hmmm…. I think we need to bring the Irish over to London for a chocolate tour. Or maybe we can just persuade them to start ordering from one of my recommended online chocolate stores.