Category: London


How appropriate that the next post on my chocolate travel blog will come on Chocolate Day! Chocolate truly is the international language of love, as no matter where you go in the world, if you arrive with a fine box of chocolates in hand, you will be well received.

The British certainly love their chocolate, and based on figures detailing chocolate consumption around the world, the Brits are near the top on every list I have seen. And they seem to be willing to spend more on their chocolate, as I have found their chocolate to be quite pricey. But definitely worth it!

In the last post, I introduced you to two of my favourite chocolate masters from the UK. But there are so many more! In our celebration to Chocolate Day, I’ll briefly introduce you to a few more.

I was fortunate to be in London for the launch of Hotel Chocolat’s signature
66% dark chocolate, introduced at their Rabot Estate chocolate boutique in Borough Market in London. I loved exploring Borough Market and meeting Angus Thirlwell, co-owner of Hotel Chocolat and the Rabot Estate. I can’t wait to get to St. Lucia and visit their cacao plantation and chocolate spa that makes Hotel Chocolat stand out as the chicest of chocolate makers.

chocolate tasting at Rabot Estate, Hotel Chocolat's boutique bistro in Borough Market

If you’re looking for chocolate with a feminine flair, then Rococo Chocolates is the place for you. Founded in 1983 by Chantal Coady, Rococo was the first brand of luxury, artisan brand chocolate in the UK and is characterized by the labels and packaging that show off Chantal’s amazing talent as a textile designer.

Chantal Coady, the creative force behind Rococo Chocolates

This is designer chocolate in a soft, subdued fashion, offering 25 flavours of fresh truffles and exotic bars with flavours such as Cardamom, Caramelized Onion and Moroccan Mint. Rococo makes some of its chocolates from cocoa beans grown on their plantation in Grenada.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Paul Wayne Gregory of Paul Wayne Gregory Ltd. How could I not love a guy whose motto is “Indulgence is everything”? Paul is another extremely creative chocolatier with a Caribbean connection. His family hails from Jamaica, and many of his chocolate flavours celebrate tropical treats such as passion fruit (Paul’s personal favourite as well as mine) which took him 18 months to perfect! Yes, Paul admits to being a perfectionist and it shows in his creations. They are simple, yet delectable.

Paul Wayne Gregory's chocolates are simple in design and intense in flavour

This post has introduced you to three more exotic masters of chocolate from the UK. There are many more! I hope you’ll now realize why Britain is leading the Chocolate Revolution and changing the way we make, eat and enjoy chocolate.

Please continue to share your thoughts with everyone here. I love hearing from you! And come back the week of July 18th, when we’ll take our next chocolate journey along the Chocolatour.

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The best thing about my job as the author of Chocolatour is that I get to eat an abundance of tremendously wonderful chocolate and that I get to meet a lot of amazing chocolate masters who are generous with their chocolates. That is also the worst thing about my job. Once that chocolate is in my possession it is quickly eaten unless I give it away. But I can’t give it away and still get to eat it (and test it, savour it, review it, write about it.) So there is a bit of a dilemma I have to deal with, in addition to the expanding reach of my waistline. Believe me. I share as much of the chocolate I am exposed to as I can, but for the most part, the tasting, comparing, analyzing and appreciating is mine to do.

It’s wonderful when the chocolate has a shelf-life of at least a few weeks. That gives me time to taste and share while the chocolate is still at full quality. But that’s not always the case.

Some freshly-made chocolates, like the truffles of Paul A. Young of London only have a shelf-life of one week. It is not the kind of chocolate that you can take home and savour for awhile. It pretty much needs to be eaten within a few days of leaving the shop for optimum flavour. And it cannot be frozen and should not be refrigerated. But it’s still worth a trip to one of Paul’s intoxicating London locations, as there are other options that have a slightly longer shelf life and will better survive a journey.

Paul A. Young will be launching his recipe book in New York on November 11/11

Just walking into his shop is worth the visit. You are nearly bowled over by the potent smell of fresh chocolate. All the chocolate sold in the shop is made on site. I mean it when I use the word “intoxicating” to describe Paul’s chocolate — and his brownies! Those brownies are a hybrid that marries deep rich chocolate with salted caramel and pecans. There is absolutely nothing better in my opinion than Paul’s soft, moist dark chocolate brownies. They are individually wrapped and come in squares large enough to satisfy the chocolate cravings of any die-hard chocolaholic.

Every one of Paul’s staff is highly knowledgeable and passionate about chocolate. They are there to help you find the right chocolate creations that are just right for you. And Paul’s chocolate shops are unique in that many of the chocolates are unwrapped and unadulterated.

a visit to a Paul A. Young chocolate shop is truly a captivating experience

They are displayed openly, for you to smell and admire, making the chocolate shopping experience more enriching, personal and satisfying. It truly is intoxicating, and a chocolate experience that no chocolate loving chocolatourist  in London should miss.

I also really loved the chocolate of William Curley. William originally hails from Scotland, and his wife, Suzue, from Japan. This cross-cultural heritage not only makes for an interesting marriage, but an amazing collaborative process in the chocolate lab. You’ll find chocolate with a strong Asian influence, with sake, sesame seeds and mustard providing subtle enhancements to the chocolate.

William’s shop is elegant and inviting. You can linger inside at a few tables, or outside at tables in front of the Belgravia (Westminster District) shop.

I adored the Sea Salt Caramel Mou — dark chocolate covering soft caramel enhanced with a taste of sea salt from Brittany. Absolutely astounding, and not too sweet at all. The chocolate is wonderful, and the caramel, a perfect blend of sweet and salty. All that quality, and a shelf-life of four months makes this a terrific take-home souvenir of your Chocolatour.

William Curley's marzipan mushrooms (on left) are truly divine

Another really unique offering from William Curley are the dark chocolate marzipan mushrooms! They look like exotic mushrooms and are filled with tasty marzipan. William was originally trained as a pastry chef and continues to offer an amazing array of exquisite pastries in addition to his enticing chocolates.

I’ll have more to say about the amazing chocolate revolution that has changed the face of chocolate in London and area in the next post, which you’ll find here during the week of July 4th. Until then, please enjoy surfing the sites of Paul A. Young and William Curley and you’ll see why these are my two favourite men of chocolate in the UK.

I hadn’t been to London, England since May, 1996, so my trip last week was a real treat. I’d spent a week there with my husband, Reg, on our first wedding anniversary and loved the city. But somehow, my travels only took me through Heathrow Airport in London over the past 15 years and hadn’t allowed me time to reacquaint myself with this marvellous city.

A spur-of-the-moment research trip with writer-friend, Suzanne Boles, of London, Ontario, enabled me to spend 6 days in one of the most cosmopolitan cities of the world with one of my dearest friends. Eating chocolate for the next installment of Chocolatour. What could be better than that?

we really enjoyed staying at Dillons

For this journey, we chose to fly Air Transat and were pleased with the service we received. If you can afford the small fee for the upgrade, do opt for Club Class, as it offers you additional space, enhanced service and comfort. For an overseas flight, it’s definitely worth it!

We were fortunate to find affordable and comfortable accommodations at Dillons Hotel (B&B) via the Journeywoman website. If you don’t already subscribe to Evelyn Hannon’s fantastic travel resource for women (and all travellers), I strongly suggest that you do. You’d be amazed at what you’ll find there.

We really enjoyed staying at Dillons. We were offered a complimentary breakfast daily, free in-room wifi, friendly helpful staff, and a convenient location near two Tube stations and the quaint neighbourhood of Belsize Park.

The only deterrent to staying at Dillons are the stairs! We were on the top floor (called the second floor, but it’s 2 levels up from the ground level.) We had a nice view and good air circulation with a large window, but there is no elevator, and so if you have difficulties with stairs or lots of heavy luggage, ask for a room on the lower level or choose another location for your stay.

Belsize Village is a great place to chill out

Belsize Park is a really cool neighbourhood in the London Borough of Hampstead. Lots of ethnic shops and restaurants without the hustle and bustle of staying in one of the more central, trendier locales. Reg and I had stayed in a similar neighbourhood in New York City several years ago and also loved it for its realism, safety factor and more reasonable prices.

Suzanne had been to London a few years ago with her daughter, so she recommended a visit to Covent Garden. I loved it! Lots of shops and restaurants, buskers, and pretty much anything for anyone. Reasonable prices in the flea market kiosks, more unique and fashionable items in the storefronts. And a Thorntons shop for chocolate lovers.

We also enjoyed a walk through Hyde Park. I was surprised at how much it reminded me of Central Park and many other green spaces in some of the world’s most memorable cities. Lots of people walking their dogs, cyclists, families feeding the birds, flowers and greenery for nature lovers.

However, my primary reason for visiting London was to eat British chocolate. I was not disappointed. Tune into the blog during the week of June 21st for more on that.

But for now, let’s talk London highlights. What have been yours?

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