Tuesday, 13 August 2013
Just because everyone loves chocolate... here are a few of my most recent cocoa discoveries.
In Bruges, following a friend's recommendation, we breakfasted a couple of times at Le Pain Quotidien. One of the best things about their breakfast basket was the selection of jams and spreads available to complement your bread and croissants. I was sufficiently impressed with the (vegan) dark chocolate spread in particular that I came home with a jar tucked into the corner of my suitcase. It's rather pricey - certainly the most I've ever spent on such a product - but it's so rich that you only need a thin layer on your toast. And since I don't know of any UK branches outside of London, I'm having to ration my consumption!
I was recently sent a couple of bars of Seed & Bean chocolate to sample: coconut & raspberry, and lavender. I've been a fan of this company for a little while now: their bars are organic, fairtrade, and are made with real, natural ingredients - so, unsurprisingly, they taste great too. I was also impressed by how much of the range is vegan. I like my chocolate at the darker end of the spectrum, but sometimes it's nice to have some added flavours, something which can be surprisingly hard to find; flavoured bars are likely to have at most 50% cocoa solids, even if they claim to be 'dark' chocolate. These ones have 66% and 72% cocoa, which are the sorts of numbers I'd choose in a plain chocolate bar.
And finally, I don't usually mention products that I haven't tried, but there's a new Baileys on the horizon - and it's been blended with Belgian chocolate, which puts it straight onto my radar of interesting drinks. Apparently it's taken them hundreds of attempts to get the taste and texture just right, to make it feel like drinking real chocolate rather than a chocolate-flavoured drink. Our all-time favourite hot chocolate, in Cuba, really was just like drinking molten chocolate - so I'll be fascinated to see how this compares. At the moment it's only available in Harvey Nichols, so I haven't had chance to sample it yet, but I'll be sure to let you know when I do.