Thursday, April 17, 2008

L'Artisan biscuits are back

I'm in heaven! And maybe just a little sick. I should have stopped a biscuit or two ago. :-) I was just so excited that L'Artisan du Chocolat have started making their chocolate biscuits again. They are so good. Sophisticated buttery biscuits with a deep fruity chcoolate.

The Real Food Festival is on next weekend (Thurs 24th to Sunday 27th). I know L'Artisan du Chocolat will be there. I'm not sure who else yet but I'm certain it will be worth a look!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

New Chocolate Entrepreneurs

After the chocolate tour today I went back my usual way through the Cabbages and Frocks market. Lo and behold, a new chocolate maker is on the scene.

Check out Will and his team:

That's Will with the headphones. This is his first foray to selling to the public (he's been supplying events for the last year or so).

And these are his exciting chocolates (all three boxes):

The passion just oozes out of this guy. I love it. I promised him I'd get Alice to deliver next week's tour group to his stall next week. They might be chocolate-ed out but it'll be worth it.

This, I believe, is how he made it through the week preparing the chocolates for market:

Super sugar.

Go along and check him out on Saturdays at the Marylebone market or at his website.

Friday, April 11, 2008

the youngest person to ever come on a chocolate tour

Is he not the cutest thing you have ever seen?

My friends' baby had his six month birthday on the trial of the new chocolate tour last Saturday. This was us in Fishworks having some food afterwards. They make the best taramasalata ever. You can see my fresh mint tea in the left of the picture. It came with an incredibly moreish brownie chunk that they make in-house. Yes, my capacity for eating chocolate is virtually limitless. Hey, we had a savoury break of fish and bread in between!

The little man was supremely well behaved throughout the whole tour. Chocolate tours aren't really the place for babies but you can take this one anywhere. He is a dream. All down to a very chilled mum and dad, me thinks.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

oh, so full

It took me until about 10am today to feel remotely hungry. Ok, I know that's not a particularly long time, but I still didn't eat much then.

I stuffed myself so much at dinner last night. A complete glutton. I went for a run at lunch today to try and make myself feel slightly better about it. But, then, I don't care too much. It was totally worth it.

We had the tasting menu at Petrus and it was superb. It's funny, I'm half-way through reading Gordon Ramsay's second biography and everything he says about his service in his restaurants is true. They offered to do substitutes if there was anything we couldn't or wouldn't eat and offered a vegetarian version of the tasting menu which I chose (with a fish dish from the a la carte in the "main" course). This way we get to try more, though the man was quite stubborn in letting me try his dishes. After I chose the vegetarian menu they came back with risotto ball canapes for me, sensitive to the fact that the lamb koftas and foie gras with blackberry powder might not be my favourites. The risotto balls with truffle oil were divine (though the lamb koftas were pretty good too!).

In his book Ramsay mentioned the champagne trolley "to make things simpler for the table in deciding aperitifs" and candidly admits that the £9.50 rose champagne helps the upselling of the bill. I expected the prices may have risen since the book was published (2007) but was still somewhat aghast at the £25-a-glass addition in the bill. Live and learn. I should have asked. I did get a small box of chocolates to take home (mmmmmm) so that went a way towards making it all ok. Frankly, it was better just to pretend the entire bill didn't exist and not to look at it again. La di da.

I do love going to restaurants like this but I'm glad not to do it too regularly. Mainly because I find it difficult to leave food on my plate (though the budget blow-out is the real reason!). The truffle risotto (my 2nd official course) was delicious. I was surprised to find a few of the dishes - this one included - overly salty, but the variety of breads we were offered mopped this saltiness up reasonably well.

The turbot was delectable too, as was my halibut with truffles and baby vegetables. Melt in the mouth good.

Our final course was a chocolate molleux (warm) with banana jelly cubes and banana icecream for me and a lemon creme with brioche crisp for him. We couldn't decide which was better but both were incredible. The chocolate was Valhrona 70%. Caraibe, I assume. We thought we were done but oh no... The chocolate tree came our way. An elaborate set of hanging truffle baskets. There were six varieties and I ended up trying them all (not knowing I would get a box of four when I left). My current chocolate craving is for chcoolate and nuts so the milk chocolate praline was the most satisfying but I really loved the mango and passionfruit. It was a dark chocolate shell filled with a fruit puree. There was also a plain dark caribbean truffle, a cassis (its white chocolate shell overpowered the delicious blackcurrant centre a bit too much), a coconut (too sickly, but perhaps only because I was so full already) and a salted caramel. For the first time in a long, long time I was chocolate-d out. I genuinely thought I might not eat any chocolate today. But it was a dull train journey home so I picked up a large slice of chocolate cake at St Pancras. "Oops."

I think I should probably go running again tomorrow.

Monday, April 07, 2008

in anticipation of Ramsay proteges

Snow. In April? What's going on?! At least it's lighter in the evenings. It's amazing how much that can lift spirits. Despite spending more hours in the office last week than I have so far this year, I felt energised and awake. I thought it was just because I was enjoying the work I was doing. I realised today on my pilgrimage to a chocolate shop that last week was the first week after the clocks changing for daylight saving. Ah ha! So, despite the snow, summer must be on the way. Right?!

The good thing about snow is it makes hot chocolates all the more enticing.

On Wednesday night we're eating at Petrus. I can't wait. I'll be sure to eat something chocolate-y and report back.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

the New Chocolate Tour

I've just got back from the trial of the new Chocolate Ecstasy Tour. This one is in the Chelsea/Kensington area. In the time it took me to put on a load of washing my lovely man - who came with me today - had fallen asleep! Despite sleeping later than me this morning! Though I guess I am able to keep going and going and going once I've had chocolate! Tours always give me a high, too. I just love introducing people to great chocolate All the shops did a spectacular job today and I can't wait to start taking more people to these shops as well. I just need to schedule the public launch date! Due to other commitments it looks like it might be the first weekend in June. I'm really excited that each tour is unique. All but one of my guinea pigs today had been on the original Chocolate Tour and all agreed that each tour has its own specialness.

I've got to go get ready to go out for dinner with friends now (will the eating never stop? :-) ).

If you are interested in being part of the public launch of the brand new Chocolate Ecstasy Tour let me know!