Duffy's Newsletter March 2016
This year is getting stranger as it starts to turn into Spring. I've had a few visitors, a few journalists around and a few press articles.
To start with though great news from Australia – Lyn and Charley's Chocolate won the Champion Trophy at the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria 2016 Awards for their Mt Etna 70% chocolate bar. Well done them. The UK Awards season is nearly upon us so I hope that I have as much success.
I heard this morning that Luca Mannori in Italy used our couverture and won 2 Gold & 1 Silver Awards at the Italian/Mediterranean round of the International Chocolate Awards. His winners were Puro Nicaragua and Puro Ocumare Unflavoured Dark Truffles (Gold & Silver respectively) and the Red Honduran Raspberry-flavoured dark truffle (Gold). We don't yet have a stockist in Italy yet so hopefully that will change.
A guy who writes a blog (Chocablog) has started making chocolate himself as Damson Chocolate and he sent a few new bars with a visitor for me to taste last week. We shall crack these open later when everyone is here. At present Sue, Lindsay and Lizzie help out for a couple of days a week but the latter is leaving us shortly to have a baby. Back to Dom Ramsey (Damson) – there is a motor racing link in that he uses buffalo milk chocolate produced by Jody Scheckter the ex-F1 driving ace.
A blogger did a comparison between bars from Damson, Mast Brothers and from us. It reads like a sensible and balanced review although I am biased of course:
A big surprise was finding a bog written about me by a famous F1 motor racing journalist and author called Joe Saward. He found my chocolate in Fortnum & Mason and was clearly astonished that life exists outside of the F1 circus. I don't think I have seen Joe since about 1994 – I left F1 to make sportscars and Joe carried on. His review of my career has big gaps corresponding to when I had factory-based jobs but is fairly accurate otherwise. I do struggle to accept that I will never make another race car though. Cheering from the grandstands just doesn't feel the same.
We have had our own chocolate bar mould designed – finally! It's taken me a long time to get around to it but I have confirmed the design and had a sample silicon mould to play with. The design looked exactly as I wanted and the moulds should be good too. All I have to do now is redesign all of the wrappers, decide whether to move to putting the bars in boxes and make the call on pricing. The new bars will be slightly smaller and weigh less so the prices will come down. It will all take time so don't hold your breath. We've managed the last 6 years using only 36 moulds and will suddenly have twice that number. We'll still only be able to fit 12 in the fridge at a time though.
Visitors keep turning up and I keep forgetting to ask why they want to come and have a look around. I must try harder. An enjoyable day was spent with Jillian Tony showing her how to go about setting up a bean-to-bar chocolate making factory. She is going to live in St Vincent and intends to set up a new enterprise. She will face different challenges to those we face in the UK – "too hot and too humid" aren't common complaints in Cleethorpes. She used to be a karate champion and represented Great Britain on the World stage, winning UK and European Gold medals and Worlds silver medals. Despite her friendly and open disposition I didn't find myself arguing with her very often. We wish her good luck.
The press have also been around again – a media student from Lincoln came and asked some questions for a radio station, a guy from a food processing magazine visited and the Grimsby Telegraph published a piece about us.
I also had a mention in the Sunday Telegraph but didn't hear about it until later in the week. More interest in fine chocolate is good news.
We will have a stall at the York Chocolate Festival over the Easter weekend, and Lindsay from Spire Chocolates will be running it for the first couple of days as we are on holiday. Come and say hi if you are in the area – it's part of the larger York Food & Drink Festival and always well worth a visit. Parliament Street, York – March 25, 26, 27 & 28th.
The winner of three bars of chocolate this month is Ron P and he has been notified. The Nicaraguan bar tastes of cranberries and the Panama tastes of liquorice and cherries so it will be a good comparison. The oak-smoked salt bar is a perennial favourite!
The Nicaragua Nicaliso 72%
The Panama Tierra Oscura 72%
The Ecuador 43% milk with oak-smoked salt and cocoa nibs