Chocolate week is upon us and luckily I got a free press pass to review the delicious Chocolate Ecstasy Tour run by the lovely chocolate expert Jennifer Earle, who founded the company in 2006. I first heard about the chocolate tour a few months back through the ever helpful twitter. There are two areas of the Chocolate Ecstasy tour in London: Chelsea and Mayfair, and lots of different packages ranging from traditional to modern choices, mornings or evenings, weekdays and weekends, hen parties to corporate packages. Private tours can be arranged too. I went to the Mayfair tour.
We started the tour at Sketch in Mayfair where we got acquainted with the others in the group (max of 12) over a lush hot Valrhona chocolate cup and a light and crisp apple pastry.
|Valrhona hot chocolate at Sketch|
It was a great way to start the tour and to break the ice. Jennifer talked us through cocoa beans, nibs, butter, the process of chocolate making from farmers to chocolate maker and finally the chocolatier. When you taste fine chocolate you ate less of it, as fine chocolate is more intense and this way more satisfying.
Open the packaging – smell: inhale its aroma and scents – vanilla,
spices, fruits etc. Appearance: quality chocolate should have a nice
sheen to it. A wide range of different tones of brown depending on the
type of chocolate and the percentage of cocoa.
Sound: Quality chocolate
will break easily and neatly. Dark chocolate has a clear, sharp snap,
milk or white chocolate has a more gentle snap because of the milk
Touch: High quality chocolate should melt with your body
temperature. Place a small piece between your fingers, melting, fell the
texture. It should be smooth.
Taste: put a small piece in your mouth,
let the chocolate sit on your tongue and begin to melt. chew the piece
three to five times and concentrate on the taste and textures. You’ll
soon be a chocolate expert. Practise makes perfect! Let’s open another
bar of fine chocolate…
We had a tour of Sketch. What a magnificent building! The deco is eclectic and considered. Beautiful and intriguing art work scattered all over the place.
Afterwards we moved on next door, The East Indian Company where we sampled endless fine chocolates bars, chocolate covered fruits and nuts. We sampled some fine tea too. All delicious and sophisticated as the shop.
|chocolate tasting at The East Indian Company|
|fine tea tasting|
We then crossed Regents Street into Soho, walking down Carnaby street to my surprise Jennifer, who is very knowledgeable of the area, talked us through a small Soho tour on the way to our next stop. I loved it!
Our next stop was Paul A. Young where we met the most enthusiastic staff ever! Somehow the staff
fits Paul’s brand, very well. We tried some exotic truffles, bonbons
and chocolate brownies. They also sell chocolate bars and cooking
chocolate. All things chocolate! We were told that the origin of the
cocoa effect the taste of the final product and the different shapes of
the chocolate are considered and designed accordingly to hence the taste.
We walked to our next destination, Carpo. Nuts, chocolate, dried fruits, honey, preserves and coffee emporium at number 16, Piccadilly. They also sell seasonal snacks. This shop is crammed with ingredients and some of them I never heard of. Alladin’s cave is the expression that comes to mind. Brilliant! The staff is very helpful too.
Prestat, located at Princes Arcade, was the next stop. This small shop is rather colourful and one of the oldest chocolate shop in London. One of their most famous customer is Roald Dahl’s author of Charlie and chocolate factory. Prestat are the creators of the chocolate truffle in 1891. We sample some fine chocolate truffles there.
Our last stop was Charbonnel et Walker purveyor of fine handmade British chocolate since 1875, producing chocolate according to traditional recipes. This shop is located in the Royal Arcade in Bond Street. The shop has a collection of Royal photographs all over its walls. Quite entertaining to see the Royal Family back in the day. We sample their best sellers Rose and Violet creams and the luxurious Pink Marc de Champagne truffles.
|Pink Marc de Champagne truffles|
For another point of view on this tour read Laura’s post here.
Jennifer is very gracious and you can see she enjoyed guiding us through Mayfair and Soho to sample great chocolate delights. Jennifer credentials are very impressive: recognised chocolate expert, appearing on TV and radio programmes
and judging various chocolate and baking competitions, including being
one of just seven members of the Grand Jury for the International
Chocolate Awards and judging supermarket boxes of chocolates for Which?
In this tour you will learn about chocolate, where to get fine chocolate and you get an insight into Mayfair and Soho history and anecdotes too. Highly recommended. Happy Chocolate week!
Tour starts at £40/per person for over three hours of chocolate tasting in very fine establishments. For more info: www.chocolateecstasytours.com
Disclosure: I was a guest of chocolate Ecstasy Tour. All views are my own.
For more images click here on my account on Flickr: Chocolate Ecstasy Tour in London