There is a magical time of the year, that I make down in my brand new diary for the new year. No, it’s not Christmas or my birthday or even my beloved nephew’s birthday. Naw, Chocolate Week and The London Chocolate Show.
Landing mid-October every year, is a whole week celebrating all things magically chocolatey. As you can imagine, I do this with gusto.
For three days, chocoholics flock to Olympia in Kensington, London to meet with the makers and suppliers of all things chocolate and to make new discoveries.
I had a shopping list of makers that I wanted to visit and couldn’t wait to discover new bars, flavours, origins and makers. The show isn’t crazy busy that you need to worry that you’ll miss out or won’t see everything in one day.
There is an array of art pieces this year, made out of chocolate, my personal, was the Banksy inspire piece by Hotel Chocolat, drawing the awareness of paying for quality cocoa and not filling bars with cheap sugar.
The first stand I visited had to be Dormouse, who is based in Manchester. I met them last year and have become obsessed with their beautiful bars. Hence, me buying four bars from them within being in the show for 5 minutes. I can’t tell you enough, that you need these bars in your life! I had to get my mitts on their Limited Edition Toasted White Chocolate with Mandarin and Cinnamon as was obsessed with Dormouse’s Toasted White Chocolate that I got to try earlier in the year.
Glittering in the corner and drawn like a magpie, was Bullion Chocolate stacked as actual gold bullion bars. With a range of three origin bars, Haiti, Bolivia and Guatemala all at 70%, you know they must have confidence that these three bars are special. And indeed they are special, I had to buy their No.2 Bolivia bar after having a try of it to match the No.1 Haiti bar I had waiting at home for me to try.
Although the show is mainly made up with stalls of makers selling their delicious wares, there’s also an array of demos for free to watch in awe. This year, I watched the incredibly talented Kelly Nadjarian head chef to Duck and Waffle create the utterly divine Peanut Butter Ganache Finger. Yes, it was dreamy as you imagine it is.
One of my highlights was having the opportunity to try a fresh cocoa bean from a pod at the Dominican Republic stand. The soft flesh around the bean was similar in flavour and texture as a lychee, with the bitter unfermented bean in the centre, but with its familiar chocolate notes still coming through.
I also got to sit in the front row in one of the talks they had laid on covering a range of topics. Chaired by Martin Christy (of Seventy Percent and Academy of Chocolate), George Gensler (of Manhattan Chocolate Society), Jennifer Earle (of Chocolate Ecstasy Tours) and Monica Meshini (the Italian side of Academy of Chocolate) on what it takes to be a chocolate expert. I loved hearing how they got into working with chocolate and tips for the quest of chocolate knowledge. Martin runs courses into chocolate tasting professionally, which I’m definitely signing up to. Was really inspiring to hear them all talk and their different takes on chocolate taste but they all agreed you just need to try lots! They also talked about the faults they can detect when trying bars and what characteristics they would look out for to grade a chocolate in the International Chocolate Awards. Such a fantastic and insightful talk.
I had one more sweep of the stalls to make sure I hadn’t missed any treasures and started to plan my visit for next year. Now, I have twelve special bars to savour and make sure they last until October next year. Who am I kidding?