Friday, 15 October 2010

artisan du chocolat

London is filled with specialist, small scale chocolate companies making brilliant products and another favourite of mine is Artisan du Chocolat. I was first drawn in by their concession at Selfridges which features molten chocolate being swirled in a posher version of a slush puppy dispenser. They also have gorgeous packaging and, so I'd heard, amazing salted caramel. I was more familiar with the attention to detaikl and craft they lavish on their bars - single original, flavoured enhanced by tea and mixed with spices all feature alongside some of their more creative products.


I'd never visited one of their stand alone stores and decided chocolate week, and therefore the temptation of free tastings and chocolate cocktails, was as good a time as any. At first I struggled to find their Westbourne Grove store and went on a rather roundabout route back and forth to Portobello road, but their it is, nestled on the Bayswater end of the street but still with some very pleasant neighbours.

The interior of the store is fantastic - modern and glossy shades of orange and white - one wall is reserved for the bars and another is a cabinet of their truffles and innovative chocolate discs. The store also has banquette style seating for tastings, cocktail consumption and gelato, and a tasting was in progress on my visit. Hence I didn't take any in store photos.

Whilst their salted caramel features in lots of recipes and is available as a sauce (and on tap maybe? please?) they don't have it combined in any of their bars so instead I made a beeline for the caramel honeycombs (£5.99) and seasalted caramels (£11.99), intending to take them home and indulge. I couldn't resist sampling one of the caramels on the tube home - it was divine. A fairly unassuming exterior with a bitter dark cocoa dusting gives way to a intense, rich caramel that's just the right side of salty. not too bitter and not too sweet; I could eat it forever. Choosing whether to suck or bite has an impact on the taste sensation, I prefer to prolong it.

I tried the original plain recipe, but they also have variations flavoured with banana, pink and black pepper and lemongrass.


The honeycomb was a kind of very posh crunchie - the chocolate coating it was rich and expensive tasting, just the way I like, and whilst the honeycomb itself wasn't a vast improvement on Cadburys, the subtle salted flavour added a dose of j'ne sais quoi.


I'm now heading to Chocolate Unwrapped tomorrow at Vinopolis, where the company's Zoe Burgess will be conducting tastings amongst other exciting events. The UK's premier chocolate companies will be in attendence, and I'm hope not to make myself feel sick!

One final word on Artisan du Chocolat - how can you not love a company who have the good humour to produce this? I have a feeling they might love the same trash TV as me!

1 comment:

  1. They look amazing, and the packaging really is lovely. I love, love, love salted caramel & found the most amazing stuff while on holiday in France last year, nowhere has managed to do better yet... I think that's a good enough excuse to check this place out :)


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