Monday, October 22, 2007

Chocolate Week is over

Every week is chocolate week for me, but Britain's official Chocolate Week has now come to a close. The tour on Saturday was deliciously fun and it seemed all my guests had a great time too (hooray!). As soon as I get hold of the photos I will post some of them up here. In my opinion, it was the best full day tour yet and each of them have been quite different. It still felt we had too short a time in each place but I think that will always be the case - why would we ever want to leave a chocolate shop? - and this tour was definitely much more relaxed with more quality time than the previous tours. Rather sadly at this stage it will be the last full day tour until Chocolate Week 2008 while I focus on the half-day tours and the other tricks I have planned! But there's plenty of fun to be had on the regular tours. I feel the highlights of Saturday's trip will be better discussed with the pictures so I will return with them to tell you more about it!

Hope you all enjoyed Chocolate Week!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Chocolate Week: 1st event: Damien Allsop and Seventypercent

Some of the bars we tried:

My chocolate high is only just beginning to fade... It's good though because I've been really productive since I got home. I was even productive on the tube on the way home!

It was a fabulous night. Damien gives such great talks about the science behind chocolate. Here is him making a ganache for us:

I learnt the very useful fact that when chocolate appears to seize it just needs more of whatever liquid you are adding to it! And I learnt - by comparison - that a chocolate ganache made with water is MUCH nicer than one made with cream. Oh and I learnt that I REALLY want a foam maker. The silver canister-thing that uses little gas cylinders to produce instant food foam (or instant chocolate mousse equivalent).
This is a picture of the water-based chocolate foam:

Here's my tasting plate. I like to try a little bit of each and save part of the piece so I can compare along the way (because the plate fills up one piece at a time):

Damien also told us a little about his current pet project: adventures with an olive oil ganache, which we got to try with a fifteen year-old balsamic vinegar. I love the balsamic and chocolate but I'm personally not overly fussed about the olive oil. Especially after having the water-based ganaches which are so much lighter. Apparently the size of the microns of fats are larger than those of your tastebuds so fats tend to coat your tastebuds thus impeding your taster to some degree (as well as adding texture/"mouth feel".

Gosh, I really need to sleep. I'm off to a preview of Stardust tomorrow night (non-chocolatey).

Oh, I've finalised more details for Saturday. There's only four tickets left now though! If you want one of them go to

Sweet chocolate dreams...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Chocolate Fondant

I didn't look at these pictures for a while and they aren't as pretty as I remember. I didn't even take a picture of it cut into and oozing. Darn. Might have to make them again. Though perhaps not this week!

Well, you can at least see what the coating of sugar in the dish looks like, and how they are supposed to be cracked on top!

Chocolate Week has started!

Hooray! It's finally here. In some ways it started for me on Saturday with one of the regular tours - we managed to squeeze 14 people on this one! I did my best to limit my choc consumption on this one, knowing the week that lies ahead. I'm not actually going to be able to go along to too much as I have a full schedule in my day job this week and I have to prepare for my own event on Saturday: the Full Day Chocolate Ecstasy Tour. (If you haven't bought a ticket yet there are just a few left! Click on the previous link to buy now.)

I am planning on popping in to Seventypercent's event with Damien Allsop tomorrow night on origin chocolates. My chance to input into a new creation? I couldn't miss that one!

If you want help choosing what to attend this week (there's so much on the website!) drop me an email through my website, or post to this blog!

I'll post a review of what I do get along to.

Have a delicious week!

PS. Newsletter readers: I will post the pics of my chocolate fondant tonight, I've had computer issues this week!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

I'm reading this:

Real flavours, by Glynn Christian. This is such a great book about food. Even better the author has lived in both the UK and Australia so I was remindeded of Australia's place in the culinary community, more significant than most people realise. I can't wait to visit again.

When I borrowed this book from my local library the man asked if I was starting up a deli. Er, no, I just really like food. It's an absolutely fascinating book. But maybe just to a food-geek like me. I've only properly read the chapters on bread and chocolate so far but it also has chapters on cheese, charcuterie, spices, oils and basically all the stuff you would find in a deli, which I've scanned too. The reason I haven't read more is because it makes me want to eat and cook and shop for food so I only allow myself to read it if I'm about to do one of these things, otherwise I end up completely distracted (and hungry).

The chapter about chocolate isn't as thorough as other books I have, but still as part of a bigger book about food it gives it a decent coverage. This is an essential book for anyone who wants to seem clever when they go to visit their local farmers' market or explore more of what tastes are out there. Speaking of which, I went again yesterday to the farmers' market in Chelsea to collect brownies for the tour from Clare, and ended up coming home with bags of watercress, olives, brocollini, cheese and other treats. Oops. Clare sells dough so you can go home and bake you own too. Unfortunately her cheese straw dough made such nice biscuits they were gobbled before we could photograph them. Eventually I might get in the habit of taking pictures.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Chocolate Ecstasy in Chocolate Week

Yum. My favourite week of the year is coming! Chocolate Week. This year seems to be the biggest ever with a HUGE amount of events.

I'll be running a full day Chocolate Ecstasy Tour on Saturday 20th October (in conjunction with It's going to a delicious day where people will be personally guided to some the best chocolatiers in London and have the opportunity to ask about all the others too. We get VIP access into stores and we'll be having lunch with an innovative new chocolatier (well, I say new, he's been in working with chocolate his whole life but has only recently started his own chocolate business).

If you're interested in joining us (there are only a few places) go to

You can check out the other events here. (The full day tour isn't up yet but it will be soon!)

I hope you can join me!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Chocolate gets better and better

Chocolate helps fatigue syndrome too! Hmm, wonder if this explains my sleepless nights? Got to love it, people are finally catching on to the fact that, although a treat, chocolate also comes from a bean (seed) incredibly rich in nutrients.

Read more here.

Like they say though - moderation, people! ;-)