Checking out The Chocolate Show at Olympia West this weekend?
In between talks, demonstrations and goggling at the mind-boggling cocoa creations in the daily fashion show, you’ll no doubt be doing more than your fair share of trying… and hopefully a good bit of buying, to boot. For, as tempting as it is to simply fill your boots with freebies, never forget this simple truth: if those chocolate-makers are out of pocket, they simply can’t keep making the chocolate you love so much. Quelle horreur, eh?
Finger-wagging over with, these are the treats to which I give the double thumbs-up…
Vietnamese chocolate has serious va-va voom. It’s not yet too easy to encounter, but the men manning the Middletown Hill stand will let you have a small sample of something mouthwatering from Marou. My personal picks are the morello-cherryish, tobacco-y Tien Giang and the Treasure Island; a bar which you’ll value as much as if it were made of solid 24-carat stuff.
Marc Demarquette’s chocolates are fine, and their creator is fun; proving definitively that the two terms are compatible. Chat to the chocolatier and you’ll learn, laugh, and no doubt load up. Marc’s African Queen chocolate won the coveted 3-star top ranking at the Great Taste Awards, and provided one of my most mouthwatering eating experiences of the year. Don’t miss it.
If you saw Jennifer Earl on the telly sharing choc with the Daily Brunch team, don’t be put off by Simon Rimmer’s unfortunate ‘chopping board accident’ response to Paul’s new Roasted Garlic truffle. Paul’s an alchemist when it comes to incorporating savoury flavours into sweet treats, as anyone who’s found a mate in his Marmite-spiked products will know. Divisive? Definitely. Disgusting? Not at all.
The ‘Chocowich’ might be the thing that reels you in, but for me the real interest lies with the chocolates named for cities of the world; featuring unusual flavours like pandan (Penang), parsnip and lime (Brighton), and mustard (Meaux) – the latter now bearing a Great Taste Award gold star. If you feel warmly towards chilli chocolate, the mustard-laced truffle is a must-try.
It’s not a name you’ll know, as Marc Hambrook’s brand is brand new, but it should soon be on every chocolate-lover’s lips. These truffles are easy on the eye, marvellous in the mouth, and clearly created by a chap who knows and loves his craft. Single origin specimens are splendid, and inventive numbers like Mulberry gin and Roasted cobnut and molasses excellently-executed.
Try both the double- and triple-turned Chuno 70% to instantly understand how unfilled, unflavoured, unfancified chocolate bars can demonstrate eye-opening diversity. Both share the same bean, origin, and cocoa content – the only difference is in the fermentation process. And WHAT a difference. This simple experiment is simply delicious and incredibly educative.
So brilliant is Britain’s chocolate scene that the Academy of Chocolate gave its supposedly-single Golden Leaf Award to two top talents: Paul A Young and ‘The Chocolatier’, Aneesh Popat. On the second’s stall, try sprightly-flavoured, brightly-decorated water ganaches and chocolate creations whose flavours are oft-inspired by India. Mango and poppadom spice is very nice.
- To read about the Great Taste Award-winning chocolates featured here and many more, click here
- To read about about African Queen, Tien Giang, and Mango & poppadom spice, click here
- For more information on The Chocolate Show and to buy tickets, click here