Saturday, May 31, 2008

the longest chocolate walk ever

10.5 miles! We did plan, even with the detailed maps, to play the day by ear. We only decided the first few shops that we would visit, after these we were making good time so decided to try and see more, especially as most would not be open tomorrow. So we walked and walked. Stopping finally for lunch in a brasserie in a gorgeous square. At this point quite ravenous because we had been buying, rather than trying, at each shop. We got the last two shops in just before closing, then stopped by L’Epicerie – supermarket heaven for me. Like a cross between WholeFoods and Selfridge’s Food Hall but oozing with French glamour. Only sad that the other incredible food shops aren’t open tomorrow so they will have to wait until the next (as yet, unplanned) visit. With aching feet we arrived home after 8pm. We mapped out our route on the total miles we walked were just over 10 (about 16.5km). Next time we should probably wear proper walking shoes!

More details to come.... Time for dinner!

A Chocolate Adventure in Paris

It’s been two years and one month since I was last in Paris. Far too long. This time I’m better equipped for chocolate exploration. I’ve made a map with most of the chocolate shops and patisseries and printed out some additional details to remind me what’s what. Also, this time I’m here with my good friend who is, most conveniently, half-French and a chocolate lover and expert. It’s good to be here with someone who is as passionate about chocolate as I am! This way I don’t have to feel bad for dragging someone else into my obsession! Here we go….

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Chocolate and Wine tasting

On Wednesday night I went along to Seventypercent's Chocolate and Wine tasting. Surprisingly, though I've been to wine tastings and to (many) chocolate tastings and I've indulged in the two together many times, this was the first time I'd gone to a proper tasting. It was truly an education. I think I learnt the most from experimentation (don't we always?).

I arrived early to help the team set up and, in order to man the tables appropriately, took it upon myself to check out as many combinations as possible (without opening the champagne or the Eiswin which were both chilling.

I discovered that the 10 Year Old Tawny Port was fantastic with the Valrhona Ampamakia, quite good with the Pralus Ecuador, not so good with the milk chocolates. They were divine with the champagne and the Eiswin. The milk chocolates were Michel Cluizel's Maralumi Lait and the Amedei Toscano Brown.

Willie's 100% Rio Caribe was an interesting combination with an Angus Bull Red. It also went quite well with the fortified wine, Mon Amis.

If I had to choose for my own after dinner selection it would be the Mon Amis with Amedei Chuao or the Eiswin with the Amedei Toscano Brown. Heavenly.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

and the Chocolate Awards go to...

What a great night. Champagne, chocolate, what more could a girl ask for?

It was a really well-run evening and the award-giving part of the evening ran smoothly, there was the opportunity for it to drag a bit but the presenter kept it moving along swiftly. Perhaps he wanted to get back to the chocolate himself?

It was almost a clean sweep for William Curley who took home a swathe of well-deserved certificates and a mounted, spray-painted cacao pod as further recognition. I had the opportunity to try some of his, and the other award-winning chocolates, during the evening. I was in total chocolate ecstasy upon trying his juniper berry and cassis truffle. This gold winner was a jelly layered on ganache, enrobed in dark Amedei chocolate - bliss. His very lovely staff gave me some to take home too which I was delighted about because with all the different varieties around that evening even I couldn't have tried them all. Because of this I got to try his raspberry truffle which I had eschewed for the more adventurous flavours on offer that evening. It was similarly wondrous.

A few other highlights included Bill McCarrick's white chocolate with passionfruit and drambuie. I don't even like white chocolate especially so this is saying something. Paul Young had a refreshing goats cheese and citrus filled chocolate and Theo (of USA) brought along his award-winning fig and fennel truffles - delicious.

I was still on a chocolate high at 10am yesterday, having woken - eyes wide - at 5am, even at 10am my eyes were gleaming and limbs moving just a little too quickly and erratically as I gestured excitedly telling people about the chocolate. What a great way to perk up the day. I love chocolate.

Soon, so soon, there will be more. Off on the very first Chelsea Chocolate Ecstasy Tour today!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Off to the Academy Awards

The Academy of Chocolate Awards, of course. It's tonight. What fun! Hmm, just realised it could be a formal affair. Oops, no time to get changed between there and work. Oh well, I'm sure people's focus will be on the chocolate!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Bonny Scotland

Gosh, it has been a long time. I've been on holiday this week, in Scotland (had you guessed?). Somehow we fluked the first turn to consistent warm weather and in Scotland. Two days ago it was warmer in Inverness than in Barcelona. Never can anyone tell me that I bring bad weather, this may be the warmest week Scotland has all year.

It was nice to have a holiday where you just get in the car and drive, particularly when the sun is shining and the temperature hovers in the early twenties all week.

Enough talking, here are some pictures:
Go in Spring when there are sweet lambs like this one.

Real countryside, with cows and everything. :-)

And we climbed hills (!):

I found a great little cafe/bakery in Edinburgh where they sell all the top chocolate brands and make their ice cream and chocolate treats from Valrhona: