Waking up to the most annoying sound of my alarm clock in the early Saturday morning with a smile on my face can mean only one thing – chocolate is going to be involved! Fully using all the benefits of being journalism student in London, I received a press pass from wonderful Sarah Tickle, who I thank very much, to the world’s largest chocolate show – Salon du Chocolat. It took place in London’s National Hall, Olympia from 18th to 20th of October 2013.
Although I have so much to tell you about this unforgettably aromatic exhibition, I think that this time, pictures will speak for themselves more than my words of gastronomic amazement, I type while drooling over my keyboard.
CHOCOLATE BATH TUB
The very first thing I saw after entering the large exhibition room was a big bath tub, which is something I always like to see after long and windy London days, but this one was different. Instead of hot water and lavender bath foam, this one was full of dark milk chocolate. When I got closer, I noticed a little chocolate fish jumping and wildly swimming from one side to another, doing double salto backwards…just kidding, but the fish was cute. The whole imagery was very beautiful and creative but it somehow didn’t work with me. Maybe there is just too much of Chocolate Matrix in my head that tells me that my mouth is the only body organ that can do some flirting with chocolate.
ENTERING THE CHOCOLATE MAZE
With a bunch of press papers and little guide, feeling like James Bond working on a new mission, I entered the maze of stalls full of great chocolates and even greater chocolatiers who always made you sure that their chocolate is the greatest in this hall, this city, in Europe, in the world, in the universe…simply the best, OK? Well, after tasting their products, I guess they were all right so there is probably no universal truth about chocolate.
CHOCOLATY DIVINITY OR DIVINE CHOCOLATE?
The very first stall I visited was the good old Divine Chocolate I use to buy in Whole Foods. I don’t really know if it’s their taste or beautiful cover design that attracts me more, but its name always makes me think about any possible connection between chocolate and divinity. Is chocolate sent to people from Gods up there? If yes, is it a reward for us being good or is it a test for our bellies lusting for its irresistible taste? It reminds me of a book, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, whose homicidal quest for the perfect scent crossed all the limits of human deliberation. Maybe one day, we will read in a newspaper about a man who did the same for chocolate (God, I hope we won’t), but there is definitely something divine within every piece of a good chocolate that wakes up a divinity inside us.
ORIENTAL LA GAZELLE D’OR
The next stall was called La Gazelle d’Or and offered variety of sweet sugary Moroccan treats. A very nice seller let me try one of their sweets saying: “ Try this one. I picked this one just for you. You will definitely like it.” I have to be a bit mean now, but I didn’t enjoy it at all. It was extremely sweet and I could almost hear my stomach telling me: “Move to the next stall Andrea! I mean now!” It had nothing to do with the quality of the product, so please don’t get biased by my review and try them by yourself. I am sure that if you like oriental sweets like Arabic or Turkish, you will be delighted by their taste.
SECRET CHOCOLATE LANGUAGE
I didn’t stay at this stall for a long time but I really liked something that one of the sellers told me there. After I asked him how long will their super organic chocolate spread without any stabilizers last after opening, he told me: “Well, it should last around one month, but we know ourselves? Not more than two days, right?” You know like spies and criminalists use special signs to exchange information, there is definitely something we all share together when it comes to chocolate language.
HOT CHOCOLATE-THE BEST FOR WINTER TIME
The next on the list was a beautifully designed stall of Jaz & Jul’s chocolate company based here in UK. A very nice lady at the stall told me that they are mainly famous for hot chocolate, using real chocolate, spices and fruit oils to create a various natural flavours. She also told me that it is very quick and easy to prepare the drink at home, so if you feel like trying some of their awesome flavours, here is the link to their website:
CASH OR CARD? NONE, I PAY WITH CHOCOLATE
Although I didn’t talk to anybody at this stall, I had to photograph chocolates in the shape of the British pound. I was thinking if I came to the shop and instead of pulling out coins, I would pay with chocolate pounds. Don’t know how about others, but if I was the shop assistant, I would definitely take them. That’s why I will never be able to do business on my own.
AND THE CHOCOLATE OSCAR GOES TO:
If I had to choose the best chocolate at the exhibition, it would be this one. Although is is a very hard decision to make, it’s almost as hard as if you asked a mother to tell you which one of her children she loves the most. But anyway, Caramandes had undoubtedly the most magical chocolate taste I ever tried. Very sweet but not too much, full of almonds but well balanced with chocolate, perfect cover design that didn’t overvalued the taste of product. Unfortunately, my student budget didn’t allow me to buy the box of their chocolate as it was a bit out of average chocolate price limit, but I definitely advise you to buy it for a special occasion, or for someone special. It’s worth the price.
LAWS OF CHOCOLATE WORLD OR HOW TO USE YOUR HAIR DRYER
I decided to take a little break and join the workshop led by Chantal Coady & Barry Johnson from Rococo Chocolates, who tried to teach us how to prepare passion fruit and rosemary caramel chocolates at home, by ourselves. Their workshop was very well prepared and both of them were brilliant at explaining and demonstrating the chocolate pralines preparation. However, no matter how much they tried to make us feel how easy the preparation is, after I watched them using multiple amount of devices and machines to prepare couple of pralines, I felt it wouldn’t look like that in my kitchen. I guess that world’s population is simply divided into two groups: 1)Chocolate Makers and 2)Chocolate Lovers *(* If you belong to category 1, you can belong to category 2, but not vice versa). But I managed to learn at least one great thing during the workshop – if you want to melt your chocolate, you can use hair dryer, isn’t it awesome?
My Shorthand teacher would be proud of me if he saw my attempt to write notes from this workshop in Teeline. No, he probably wouldn’t…:)
BE CHIC, WEAR CHOC
Like every girl, I like fashion. So you can easily imagine how excited I was when I heard that there is a chocolate fashion show with stunning couture outfits made and inspired by chocolate, designed by the countries top chocolatiers and some of the UK’s most exciting fashion designers. Wearing my £10 Primark blouse, I felt a bit outdated after looking at all of those wonderful chocolate models. Although I couldn’t imagine wearing them in the hot tube or steamy London cafeterias, I can’t object anything against their beauty and uniqueness. Have a look and judge by yourself.
SWISS KNOW IT BEST
Another stall that caught my interest was the Swiss chocolate and nougat company that was simply playing with customers’ eyes. I was very surprised by the delicious and well balanced taste of their nougats (especially Nutella and Pecan) as they were very soft and not too sweet like I expected. Their seller told me they are made of honey, sugar and white eggs only. Although you can’t buy their products online, I recommend you to try them once you find yourself in Switzerland. You won’t regret.
NOUGAT HERE, NOUGAT THERE
Nougat competition was really big as you can see.
GIVE ME A STORY, I’LL GIVE YOU A CHOCOLATE
In comparison to other over decorated stalls, this one was very small and simple. Things that are different always attract me so I decided to explore it a bit. Surprisingly, I found out that it was a stall of Chocolate Naive which is a small Lithuanian chocolate and ice cream manufacturer. A very nice and funny co-owner of Chocolate Naive, Arunas Matacius, talked me through the philosophy of their chocolate products, saying that each one of their chocolates has a story, literally. When I turned the cover of one of the chocolates (Milk chocolate with salted caramel), I could see a story of girl with curly hair and amber colored eyes. Here is the extract:
“I was hopeless and vulnerable whenever she was near, cheeks blushing crimson whilst attempting to poetically approach her. Yet a sensation of calmness and peacefulness would hover over me. Oh, if only I were slightly more courageous, we would always be together, my Caramel!”
Isn’t it beautiful? You don’t only enjoy a sweet taste of the chocolate but you have a nice and meaningful reading packed within as a bonus. Arunas asked me what is my story. I couldn’t answer. I guess it’s always like that, the simpler the question is , the harder it is to answer it. I will definitely order some of their chocolates, maybe they will help me with this task.
CHEF THAT SWEPT OBAMA’S KITCHEN FLOOR
I took another break, this time, during the culinary show of a Maricel Presilla, who is a culinary historian specializing in the foods of Latin America and Spain and the author of The True Taste of Chocolat and Gran Cocina Latina. She surprised me when she said that she was the first Latin American woman to have been invited as a guest chef at the White House. She said that Mr. Obama enjoyed her food but because they didn’t sent her any assistants to the kitchen, she and her colleague had to cook for 400 people and clean after by themselves. How mean, Mr. President. As Mr. Bush would say: ”We work hard to put food on your family.” (Table:))
WHEN I GROW UP, I WANT TO BE A CHOCOLATE DESIGNER
Just when I was about to leave the workshop, Stefano Trimarchi, a man with the world’s most beautiful job, a chocolate designer for Desir du Chocolat entered into conversation with me. He told me that Desir du Chocolat employs exceptional designers and artists, who turn chocolate into an artistic masterpiece of your choice. I went to their stall and saw wonderful chocolate statues of butterfly tower, star and a high-heel shoe. But there is much more. Stefano told me that Desir du Chocolat works for famous brands and shops all around UK, such as Selfridges or Harrods. One of their designers, Anna Chong, met Lady Gaga at The Graham Norton Show in 2011 and gave her one of her chocolate mini Lady Gaga models. Stefano assured me that they work with famous international chocolatiers so the products don’t only look great, but taste great as well. Thanks Desir du Chocolat, we look forward to seeing your chocolate art work in the windows of our favourite shops.
ALEX, MELMAN, MARTY AND GLORIA ARE MAKING A CHOCOLATE FOR YOU
One of the last stalls I visited was exhibiting a Madécasse chocolate brand. A very nice lady at the stall probably felt how much I hate the word Fair Trade, so the first words she told me was: “We are not a Fair Trade company. We simply fell in love with this wonderful piece of African land so we uncovered some of the world’s most flavorful cocoa, vanilla and spices in this area, we contacted local farmers and chocolatiers and the business was born.” If you feel like trying their products, you can buy them at Whole Foods or order them from their beautiful website: http://www.madecasse.com/chocolate/
YOU THINK I WOULD FORGET ABOUT BROWNIES?
And because I simply couldn’t leave without some chocolate in my bag, I decided to take two brownies as it is my absolutely the most favourite sweet. And because Nutella is my second absolutely the most favourite sweet, I took two pieces of Nutella brownies. I can still feel them on my tongue, hmmm, so delicious. I wish it would be possible to share the taste on WordPress instead of pictures or videos. I would definitely share their taste with you.
WITH CHOCOLATE IT’S LIKE WITH LIFE
Firstly, I have to say I really admire you for reading this till the very end of this super, massively long post. Secondly, maybe you are asking yourself, what does this kind of post do on a healthy lifestyle blog. Although I found this cute poster in one of the stalls, listing all the health benefits of chocolate, I must be true to you and myself as well, and tell you that chocolate isn’t that healthy! If you eat it in larger amounts (larger means even if you eat a half box a day :)), your body won’t thank you for there is too much of fats and sugar in it, especially in the milk ones. But you see, with chocolate it’s like with everything in life:
1) If you don’t overdose yourself with it, but instead of big and selfish amounts you opt for smaller ones, it will please you much more.
2) If you opt for darker bitterness, you may get more from it than if choosing easier milky way
3) If you limit eating it to only a few times once in a while, you may find out that it’s not the amount but the exceptionality of that moment that pleases you the most.
4) And if you share it with someone, its brilliant taste will double in size.
THANK YOU FOR READING THIS POST AND I WISH YOU A CHOCOLATY SWEET DAY