I have had a quieter month – apart from a brief visit to Dubai and a too-close view of a sand dune that I crashed a motorbike into. We tried paddle-boarding, cycled in the desert and generally enjoyed some winter sun too. Apart from that break we are frantically making chocolate so that we can keep up with orders - but as soon as we seemed to have too much in stock Paul A Young ordered a few hundred bars leaving the shelves looking bare again.
The big news this month is that we are taking over the next-door unit and turning it into a chocolate studio which will also have a small shop. We plan to cater for small parties, teach truffle-making and chocolate-making classes and of course show-case our range of fine chocolate bars. The hope is that Lindsay will move Spire Chocolates in and we’ll have her ace chocolates for sale too. More on this next month.
I have finally done some test roasts on the Nicaragua “Chuno” beans and have made the first batches of the 70% Chuno dark and the 45% Oh Chuno! Milk chocolates. I have made these bars before and the Oh Chuno! won a European “Gold” Award – but nobody bought the bar, lovely though it is. Maybe it was the wrapper I thought so we have changed the image slightly and I did a quick Facebook/Twitter survey to compare different colour options. The result came in at 2-1 in favour of the original colour (on the left) so the bar will be launched again once the chocolate has matured for a few weeks. Which do you prefer?
Penny gift-wrapped some bars for a Valentine’s Day suggestion and it looked very nice indeed. I hope it wasn’t a hint as she didn’t get chocolate this year. Don’t expect to get the hearts if you order though!
Jill Toney sent me an update from St Vincent. She left a London IT job to move to St Vincent and start a chocolate company. She has another 200 seedlings germinated and ready to plant out when they are sturdy enough. She has also been gathering cocoa beans locally and testing different fermentation times and methods. Once that process is finalised she is going to start making chocolate on a small scale and might be persuaded to send me some beans to test.
Top chef Jason Hartley of the Northern Fellowship was in touch and urgently needed some of our Panama Tierra Oscura 72% chocolate for a dessert he was due to serve – Yorkshire T and Biscuits. It’s a Yorkshire Tea infused clotted cream ice cream in a vanilla Yorkshire Pudding glazed with our Panama chocolate, topped with custard cream biscuits and a sauce made with more Panama chocolate. Does that sound fantastic or does that sound fantastic?
We have gained a few new stockists so keep an eye out for:
Park Fever – a beer and fine chocolate shop set up by Adrian Varley in London
Jaz & Juls – an excellent hot chocolate shop in Islington (1 Chapel Market)
Sam Joseph – a chocolatier based in Altrincham
I’m heading to the Chocoa Festival in Amsterdam next week to talk about chocolate, meet chocolate makers and chocolatiers and to do a meet-the-maker evening at Chocolatl. It should be fun. Thursday 23rd
Feb at Chocolatl, 25-A Hazenstraat, 1016SM, Amsterdam from 6pm.
As usual I have picked a name out of the hat this week (Veronique C; she has been contacted) and she will get these bars. Maybe she will make her own version of the Yorkshire Pud dessert.
The Ecuador Camino Verde 72% dark chocolate
The Ecuador “Salt & nibs” 43% milk chocolate
The Panama 72% Tierra Oscura dark chocolate