I'd heard lots about Paul A Young, he did a tutored tasting and talk at the Chocolate Week event in London back in the autumn, which a cheeky but horrid cold kept me away from. In addition blogs like Wee Birdy (by the way, if like me you love beautiful shops then check out this blog) have raved about his Islington store. I've recently rediscovered my love for Camden passage, partially fuelled by rediscovering Loop, and decided to pay their small London flagship a pilgrimage.
I'd heard about the brownies, and frankly, they're not what you would expect a chocolatier to produce - too cakey, not distinguished enough etc, but Paul's shop is a homage to everything and anything related to the cocoa bean; offering chocolates, truffles, sauces, brownies and even ice creams as well as their tasting nights.
Initially arriving in the store on a quiet Thursday afternoon I was ignored by the assistant and I was prepared to seriously mark them down in a Portas-like fashion as I browsed the carefully edited selection of treats, however as soon as he noticed me the service was fantastic and we talked for a considerable length of time about salted chocolates from the various producers stocked in the store and my new found love of salted caramel. The level of knowledge was akin to a good wine shop, like Hackney's Bottle Apostle, I even got a free salted caramel truffle and nearly got away without paying, so carried away the coversation about chocolate and food in general became.
Now the reason you're here is to hear about the goodies, and they didn't disappoint. I picked up a milk chocolate salted chocolate, two small salted caramel truffles (plus one free) and the brownie. Both of the chocolates were a marvel and I ate them shortly before heading off to the Bistrot Bruno Loubet (and I wonder why my thighs aren't skinny). b Their particular sea salted caramel has a different sort of taste, and a more honey like texture than Artisan's, slightly sweeter and more fluid, but still salty and delicious. Asking me to say which I preferred would be like picking your favourite child, but they are both delicious. meanwhile I saved the brownie for a time when I could appreciate it fully.
Man, I'm glad I did. This is a brownie force to be reckoned with, and I think there's something to be said for being made by a chocolatier instead of a baker. It was moist and not a bit cakey, more like a solid and deliciouss mousse. This was the kind of cake this blog was set up to appreciate, and a worthy contender for the Ottolenghi brownie which had been my previous favourite. In fact I tried it with my favourite sauce (well, it doesn't last long in the cupboard!) and I thought I'd gone to heaven.
At the time of the visit, which was a few days after valentines day, they still had a valentines version of the brownie in store, which I'm sure had a few more bells and whistles but the original version is awesome, and any fan of chocolatey cakes should give it a whirl.
Paul A Young is based at 33 Camden Passage and also has a store in the Royal Exchange near Bank.
More information about the ranges can be found on the website.