How lovely it is to be enjoying some great Spring weather. I have been delaying this newsletter until I could send a picture or too of the Chocolate Studio so that I could show what progress is being made. Lots of work going on but also lots of mess and piles of worktops and machinery have made photography difficult. Pretty much all we need to do now is plumb the sinks in, fit a shop front and put some signs up. And have a massive tidy up, of course. The shop will be open first, then the kitchen where Lindsay from Spire Chocolates will work and finally the classes, demos and tasting programme will be launched. We are looking at developing a few new products and hopefully meeting lots of chocolate fans. Exciting times.
Last month I spent an enjoyable couple of days at the Chocoa Chocolate Festival in Amsterdam. I hosted a “taste” table where chocolate makers could bring their bars and leave them for other chocolate makers and other conference attendees to taste and comment upon. There were some interesting bars from companies new to me such as Mirzam from Dubai. Whenever I left the table for a few minutes I found a pile of bars from one of the chocolate giants Barry Callebaut there when I returned. All bore the claim that they were planning to stop using child labour by 2025 – which by inference means they are clearly using child labour now! Laudable work but still shocking to realise that they are aware of what is happening and can’t stop it for another 8 years.
On a cheerier note, Chef Nick Bennett from Restaurant 56 at the Sudbury House Hotel on London Street in Faringdon tweeted me (@duffyredstar) a picture of their latest dessert – Banoffee pie with Venezuela Ocumare chocolate ice cream. It looks gorgeous.
I’ve mentioned silversmith Shannon O’Neill before and recently sent her more of leopard heads made from our Guatemala 70% chocolate and Venezuela 55% milk chocolate. She’s been busy and is looking forwards to attending the Grand National with her family and friends – and watching the trophy that she worked on being presented. Here’s the story.
Once a month there is a chocolate tasting club meeting at the Brown Cow in Louth. Nice pub and a good small venue. I was invited down in March to talk about making chocolate and sourcing fine beans. We tasted some of our bars (the Guatemala 70% went down very well – but the milk chocolate with salt and nibs went down best of all. That’s always the favourite) as well as nice and interesting bars from The Chocolate Tree in Edinburgh and Small Food Bakery in Suffolk. Thanks for the invite – I look forwards to going again and tasting more bean to bar chocolate from small producers.
Our entries for the Academy of Chocolate Awards are probably being judges as I type. One of these is a completely new bar – Moccachino. Made with real ground coffee from the ever-excellent Small Batch Coffee Roasters in Brighton and smooth milk chocolate. I’m happy to report that it is delicious and I physically have to hide the samples in a cupboard before I eat the whole bag. It will be on the website as soon as we get a few bars properly wrapped.
We have another new stockist in London – the well-named Slab & Tipple at 119 Church Street, Stoke Newington in London. The display looks good and it’s a shame that I rarely get to London to check it out for myself. If you are close by you should do the same.
As usual I have picked a name out of the hat this week (Chloe; she has been contacted) and she will get these bars. One is a pre-release of the new Moccachino bar – comments appreciated
The Ecuador Camino Verde 72% dark chocolate
The Café Collection “Moccachino” 45% milk chocolate
The Dominican Republic 65% dark chocolate