Sunday, June 22, 2008

Chocolate @ Taste of London

I couldn't resist buying both of these chocolate desserts yesterday. Both restaurants mentioned the Valrhona chocolate they had used by the specific type so I figured they knew their chocolate and could not just be looked at. I got the One-o-One offering first. We had savoury dishes from here last year and they were sensational. I also love salted caramel.

Coupe Liegoise of dark Manjari brownie chocolate, coffee and salt caramel ice cream.

The coffee mousse was delicious and the honeycomb crumbled at the bottom was fabulous. Despite the addition of the icecream it didn't really taste "puddingy" enough to be satisfying. The chocolate could have almost been anything, there was none of Manjari's trademark fruitiness coming through.

After another lap of the grounds and another savoury interruption (parmesan custard with anchovy toasts - super salty, but interesting) we joined the throngs at L'Atelier du Robuchon for this:

Chocolate sensation au chocolat Araguani, sorbet au cacao amer et biscuit Oreo - Creamy Araguani chocolate, bitter chocolate sorbet and Oreo cookie crumbs.

Now this was a dessert that filled a gap. A little too well. The little balls of crunch hidden amongst the mousse and sorbet were a welcome textural change for what was otherwise almost too rich after all the other food we had consumed.

I was much more restrained overall this year. I don't know if it wasn't as good as last year or if I just remembered how insanely full I was last year and therefore held back a little.

It was great also to see Gorvett & Stone, Paul A Young and Cocoa Loco showing off their delicious chocolate creations. I had thought I would buy some to take away but I was so chocolate-ed out (yep, even me) from the two chocolate desserts that I couldn't face the thought of taking some home.

Friday, June 20, 2008

a summary of the last few weeks

I’m not sure what happened to Sunday either, or the rest of the week for that matter. Except for returning Wednesday night (after Yo Sushi with friends) to a sparkling kitchen. Best £34 I have ever spent.

Where to start? Although I might protest otherwise I do enjoy being busy. Last minute madness at work adds to the excitement and I am obviously thrilled to be doing so many chocolate tours. Even more thrilled to have my second guide in full swing now. I love getting emails back with rave reviews. I may actually have accomplished what every business book tells you to do and hired people better than myself. I guess we all have different personalities but I know I have two truly excellent chocolate guides which is very nice indeed.

We are already planning the next trip to Paris. Not just because it took less than a week to demolish the bounty, but because there was still so much more to see. Next time we will organise a proper restaurant for Saturday night because although we read a sample menu for the one we did go to we were falsely seduced by oyster icecream and other molecular gastronomy-sounding dishes (really, who thought up that word, does that really sound appetising?) it was mostly a lot of fluff. Expensive fluff too. Delicious sounding dishes that just didn’t deliver, especially not at the cost. The maitre’d was excellent but the waitresses looked like they were lost. Cest la vie.

There has been a chocolate event at least one evening a week for the last few weeks and then tours on the weekends. I attended another Seventypercent tasting with special guest Alex Rast explaining the matrix by which all fine chocolate will fall into – in the four corners: earthy, spicy, fruity and creamy (if I remember correctly? Please remind me if I’ve got it wrong!).

Paul Young hosted an Ecuadorian chocolate and jewellery event at his store in Camden Passage. When we arrived he poured us glasses of his special chocolate brew, informing us “you only need two”. One and a half was where I stopped! Delicious, rich and managing to be both refreshing and – because of the alcohol – warming. I want the recipe.

Last Friday Beth Dunn hosted a chocolate party in St Paul’s. Truffles, biscuits, cakes, shortbread and chunks of chocolate brought in by her and Chrstine (who runs cooking classes). Somehow I was still there when they turned the lights on. It was a fun evening catching up with friends from a variety of areas in my life and introducing them all to each other.

Then earlier this week I got myself along to the first open Academy of Chocolate event. Chantal Coady who is celebrating 25 years of Rococo Chocolates gave a talk and offered us a variety of chocolate to sample. Bill McCarrick (Sir Hans Sloane Chocolates), William Curley, Paul Young and Sevetypercent where all there with chocolates to taste too. It’s definitely worth getting yourself along to the next one (I’ll give you notice, I promise!). I have heard Chantal talk at least once before but most of what she said tonight was new to me, a new insight into chocolate production and also into her business history. From everyone I speak to, and my own limited experience, having your own business is both one of the most rewarding experiences and the most stressful. Especially when everything is on the line for it. I like how my business supports these other chocolate businesses – by bringing chocolate lovers for their best chocolate experience.

In other news, my mum arrives from Australia tonight. I will be sharing her with the rest of her family after tonight but I am so excited to see her!

Apologies that this has fallen into the blog curse of listing events but there was so many chocolate things to share with you all!

Tomorrow I'm off to Taste of London. I will be saying hi to Paul Young and Cocoa Loco brownie and truffle makers! And, no doubt, eating and drinking myself silly. I'll be the one accompanied by the motherly-looking identical twins, on their induction to fine food. It should be entertaining.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate

I have had a very intense few weeks and it isn't over yet. I need to go to bed now but it's been so long since I blogged!

Work has been super busy and every spare minute outside of that has been filled with chocolate, with the exception of a very peaceful weekend in the country with friends last weekend - though it feels so long ago now.

I have to say though that even though I may be running on adrenalin I am so happy. I love it when my life is filled with chocolate. Work's been really interesting too. I've been to two chocolate events in the last week, visited so many chocolate boutiques, been sent chocolate brownies and tomorrow night am off to a chocolate party and have the new Chelsea Chocolate tour on Saturday (so tomorrow won't be a late one!) plus organising a last minute hen tour to run simultaneously on Saturday. What fun!

I promise to post more details about all of these choc-adventures on Sunday (or at least start to!) when I finally stop. Though I really should clean the flat first. I'm so pleased we finally hired a cleaner - I just wish they were able to start this week!