Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I love the people in the Chocolate world

Another indulgent weekend that began with a chocolate tour on Saturday morning (my favourite way to start the weekend, this tour special as a final goodbye to one manager leaving, and a hello to a new manager starting in different store). Then I travelled onto a garden party in the West Country, complete with brass band and full-size skittles runway, and finishing at the London Food Show at the Islington Business Design Centre. I just realised I was wearing my high-heel boots for 18hours straight, with the exception of two hours in the car on the way down when I was a passenger. No wonder my calves hurt still.

It's a shame that the Food Festival wasn't advertised better, at least, it didn't seem like it was. The trouble with going at the end of a three-day show is that the exhibitors are just keen to get home, and many of them have already left, including one of the chocolate exhibitors I really wanted to see.

It was great to see the couple from Gorvett and Stone again. Not only do they create delicious chocolates but they are just lovely as well. Their dark chocolate bar with strawberry and black pepper is perfect. I pinched this picture from their website because mine didn't quite do it justice.

I went by to visit Paul of Paul A. Young Fine Chocolates afterwards and was delighted to find him in the shop - and with exciting news too! He is opening another shop in the Royal Exchange in Bank in just a few weeks. So business is obviously good. And with good reason: divine chocolates with no expense spared on the ingredients. His Autumn range is slowly coming into the stores (how sad to be acknowledging we really aren't getting a summer). Paul also had a strawberry and black pepper chocolate, his was a milk truffle and perhaps even more perfect, as a truffle at least. I never seem to buy enough of his chocolates when I'm there. He's now mastered how to make stilton chocolate truffles that last more than one day - add port! Brilliant. Bizarre, but good.

Other lovely finds at the fair were CurrySlim jars of sauce and FleurDelicia chutneys and marmalades (NOTE: second website isn't there yet). Now, normally I won't touch any products with the word "slim" in the title. Not because I'm not conscious of my diet, but because in my experience tags like "slim" and "lite" tend to imply a whole host of additives, artificial sugars and fillers. As always I scanned the ingredients on the labels and not only is their virtually no fat there is also no sugar. The only sweetener I could spot is pineapple juice, and all the other ingredients are normal things you might find easily in many people's cupboards. I met Fleur as well and was impressed by her insistence on only buying fresh fruit and vegetables and not compromising on ingredients. Her spicy tomato and hot aubergine chutneys are great, they're being picked up by Asda (please don't let that put you off!). Fleur, like a lot of other gourmet food producers these days, left a city job to have a go at making her talent into a business. She's doing pretty well so far, it seems. Good luck to her!

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