18 Aug The Chelsea Chocolate Tour
Discovering Chelsea and some very delicious chocolate on the Chelsea Chocolate Tour
Jennifer Earle, founder of Chocolate Ecstasy Tours, was one of my very early PR clients. At that time, she was juggling setting up the business with a full time job; now, she’s works on this full time, with a variety of different tours, including a Brighton Tour and a coffee and chocolate tour, as well as one-off events.
I’ve been hugely impressed by her determination, not to mention being in love with the concept ever since she first told me about it.
Years ago I was lucky enough to experience the original full day tour so when Jennifer asked if I’d like to sample the Chelsea Chocolate Tour, I jumped at the chance.
Despite it being July, it was a chilly, rainy day and we gathered together over much appreciated hot chocolates at our first stop, the chocolatier William Curley in Belgravia. After introducing ourselves and our favourite chocolate (pink Champagne truffles if you’re interested!) we tried some unusual blends including Rosemary and Olive Oil and Japanese Black Vinegar, and pottered around the shop where you get a ten percent discount.
This pretty much became a template for the rest of the morning: stop, taste, talk about it and sometimes buy. We made four stops in all, including the amazing Piere Hermé where we not only tasted chocolates but some adorable macaron. I was also introduced to a new flavour: Isaphan, a blend of yoghurt and rose, lychees and raspberry which was out of this world. Piere Hermé is apparently the creator of this fusion, which he discovered whilst working for Lauduree in Paris (somewhere I have been lucky enough to experience and shall never forget).
One thing I always notice when it comes to high end chocolate (and Champagne funny enough) is the presentation. Good chocolatiers also seem blessed with the ability to dress their shops and displays well, making them not only mouth watering, but almost a work of art. This very much felt the case in Piere Hermé; it was nothing short of beautiful, and the smell of both chocolate and the flavours of the various macaron really seduced the senses.
We ended drinking tea and learning about how chocolate is grown and produced, something which might have been more helpful at the beginning, but nevertheless was fascinting and I now feel I could at least have a shot telling Peruvian chocolate from its relation from Madagascar.
History buffs can also glean bits and pieces from the tour. I saw the hotel where Oscar Wilde was arrested and learned why London’s park railings are always painted black. Our guide Katie, was a real chocolate fan, and we felt in good and passionate hands. Numbers are kept small and intimate, and by our final destination we had built up a lovely camaraderie. I was surprised by those who refused a second helping, however. Why come on a chocolate tour if you’re not going to gorge on as much as possible…or is that just me?
Disclaimer: My tour was kindly hosted by http://www.chocolateecstasytours.com/