Monday, 2 April 2012

London Chocolate Festival: South Bank

Om nom nom nom nom.....
When I saw Paul A. Young's tweet about the chocolate festival happening on the South Bank it didn't take me long to find the website, book tickets for his masterclass, run around the living room with excitement and drool. I've been a fan/obsessed with the man since receiving his book 'Adventures with Chocolate' for Christmas and ever since I've been scouring London/the internet for weird and wonderful ingredients to make his concoctions. If you have a chocolate lover in your life, buy them this book, you can't go wrong - they will adore you for it (It even won world's best chocolate book not long ago!). I have my eye very firmly on his chocolate, stilton and bacon sandwich.

We arrived at the South Bank and the place was predictably heaving, despite the overcast skies. The fight to get to the chocolate was getting fierce and elbows were readied. Every few paces you could hear the words ‘Willy Wonka’ coming from one direction or another. The smell of chocolate lay heavy in the air. Scene set, we did a bit of a reconnaissance mission as to choose where to strike too early would have been disastrous. I didn’t want to be half way through a chocolate pancake only to spy a chocolate waffle I didn’t have room for.

Satisfied I knew where to come to later on we made our way to the chocolate theatre (sadly not made of chocolate as I first hoped). We took our seats and were all handed a free spanking implement. Turns out it was a mini spatula. I still haven’t figured out why though. Gale force winds (slight exaggeration) were buffeting the tent making it all rather dramatic as displays tumbled over and things generally shook a bit. Valentina Harris kicked off proceedings (bonus celebrity spot) and introduced Paul who started with a demonstration of how to make his Roquefort and Thames honey chocolates and began be melting a lot of cheese into a lot of cream, before adding the honey and applying to the chocolate, yum!

chocolate magic!
The result was strangely delicious. A lot of the time you see/taste strange food combinations and they really do not work. I bit into it expecting the worst but the taste was as divine as it was complex. It was like having your dessert and cheese course all at once and really did bring to mind Willy Wonka and his 3 course meal chewing gum. I wonder if you could make a roast dinner flavour chocolate?

Next up was his cigar leaf caramel, which was subtler than I expected but did definitely leave a hint of a burn (in a good way) in the back of your throat and had an interesting completely indescribable tobacco-ey taste (so you’ll just have to go to one of his shops and buy some!). We heard how it was possible to make chocolate work with meat (don’t knock it until you have tried it), but possibly not so much with seafood – no great loss there. Fishy chocolate does not rock my world. Afterwards like the sycophant I am I went and got my book signed, see!

Chocolate Bible
Time flew and twas soon time to hit the festival once more. Being a cold afternoon we headed straight for the (organic and homemade) hot chocolate, made by the lovely Jaz and Juls. I was sad to discover their brand new rose and cinnamon blend had sold out but I plummed for Caralimelicious, a taste bud blowing mix of caramel and lime and I will definitely be buying some online. I tried their Chilli con Choccy as well, not for the fainthearted but deliciously warming to the insides!
Wandering on, passed the piles of cookies and brownies and I bought some Black Cardamom choccy and some Tonka choccy from Artisan du Chocolat. I didn’t/still don’t know what Tonka is, but I can’t wait to try! We visited the Meantime Brewery stall – only to find out they are local to me and run brewery tours on Tuesday evenings – watch out world! We tried posh chocolate pick ‘n’ mix, chocolate liqueur, all kinds of pure organic chocolate and stomped our feet at the length of the churros queue. I could have stayed there all evening but sense prevailed and we went and stuffed ourselves with delicious Mexican food at Café Pacifico instead. Next year I’ll be back and I will be attending EVERY masterclass. In the meantime I can add making chocolates to my heaving list of desired life experiences yet to be had!

1 comment:

Adam said...

I'm sensing a cheese+chocolate combining theme to your be fair, if you can pull it off you'll be a total hero!