over two hours tasting chocolates at Hotel Chocolat
(It's OK to turn green with envy)
We started with a cup of coffee and a chat, fellow taster Lucille and I, while Dan the Chocolatier got things ready. Lucille is a lovely woman with two small sons. When she was young she had a job as a magician's assistant. Here is her best TA DA!
|So much happiness from 1 tiny bean|
As Choccy Dan explained the harvesting, fermenting, drying, roasting and conching (grinding the cacao for ages- if it were wheat it would be milling) he brought out pairs of chocolate for us to compare. Some of the chocolate pairs were from different countries, some highlighted the difference between single origin and blends, some were nearly the same except for roasting and conching times. It was fascinating to taste the differences in each pair.
Now, obviously we were tasting a LOT of chocolate - 18 in all. We needed something to cleanse our palates between chocolates. Choccy Dan had just the thing: prosecco. It was 10:30 in the morning, so I demurred initially. Lucille tucked right in.
By 11:15 I decided the sun was over whatever arbitrary point was necessary for me to cave in, and fizzy wine appeared. It was very nice fizzy wine, and I decided I might be a bit in love with Choccy Dan for suggesting such decadence.
|I don't care that it's still morning.|
After 15 batons or shards of dark, milk, single origin, blended and otherwise compare-and-contrast chocolates, Dan brought us some filled chocolates to try. By then, having happily munched 85% cocoa solids chocolate these more conventional truffles seemed incredibly sweet. However, Lucille and I struggled womanfully on. The white and yellow truffles were filled with a creamy lemon curd - probably the nicest fruit flavoured chocolate I'd had. I wasn't entirely convinced by the very boozy champagne truffle - too heavy handed with the liquid, overpowering any chocolatey taste but the billionaire's shortbread truffles were lovely. They were squares of chocolate with a layer of caramel, a layer of very nice praline sand topped with little balls of shortbread. Yum.
Dan gave us the OK to snaffle the rest for our kids (honest, guvnor) and handed us each a bag full of chocolates to take home as well. He even made sure our personal favourites were included. Mine was a 70% milk chocolate from Venezuela - smooth, rich and delicious.
The downside of that blissful half day? My Dairy Milk just doesn't taste the same anymore.