Pleasure Sprinkled with Salt and Cardamon: Inside London's Exquisite Chocolate Shop
Have you ever been to one of these fancy artisan chocolate shops? The ones with windows draped in pastel curtains, bright coloured walls perfectly matching cream tablecloths and carefully arranged displays containing bits of mouthwatering treats. The ones filled with such a solemn atmosphere that suddenly you remember that the Aztecs - or maybe the Maya? - well, whoever it was, had a point believing in chocolate’s divine origins. And while wondering whether your humble mouth of a commoner deserves to experience such exquisite pleasure, you’re ready to fully agree with them.
Going to such a place is always an adventure of its own, even before you get to bite into a luscious dainty of your choice. A little group of self-indulgent chocolate lovers from our office recently made a trip to one of London’s finest chocolate shops. If you feel like “joining” us at London’s Rococo chocolates, get ready to experience the intensified activity of your salivary glands…
The idea of creating this well-known brand which currently has branches in London’s top locations such as Belgravia, Chelsea, Covent Garden and Marylebone originated in the mind of a nonaffluent student forced to contribute to the family’s income. Founded in 1983 by Chantal Coady, who “armed with a little knowledge, a dangerous passion and the belief that there was room for a radically different approach to chocolate, Rococo Chocolates opened the doors of [her] first shop on King's Road in Chelsea.” Her only experience came from her previous workplace - Harrods Chocolate Department.
Chantal’s approach turned out to be a huge success. Rococo Chocolates earned a remarkable reputation and became a well-known spot for chocolate-loving Londoners. Their assortment includes chocolate boxes, bars and wafers, “curiosities”, nibbles and finally abundant hampers composed for special occasions. After much deliberation, our party of chocoholics decided to limit ourselves to the shop’s most popular products. According to the staff of Belgravia branch, the top three bestsellers include Sea Salt Organic Milk Chocolate Wafer Thins (£16.95), Cardamom Organic White Chocolate Artisan Bar (£5.95), and the perfectly balanced Sea Salt Organic Milk Chocolate Artisan Bar (£5.95).
I think we all received a clear message: they really want to stress the organic nature of their product. And while perhaps not everyone would be able to detect this subtle tune of cruelty-free, 100% fair-trade handpicked cocoa beans that never felt a touch of artificial fertilizer, regardless of their flavour preferences and experience they’re bound to notice one thing: these chocolates are heavenly delicious.
Having tasted every item from our choice, a couple of members from our team unanimously picked white cardamom bar as our absolute favourite. Lacking years of experience in chocolate tasting we can’t really dwell on its silky smooth texture, perfectly balanced flavour bouquet or subtly engraved brand logo. We wouldn’t recognize a perfectly balanced flavour bouquet even if it hit us in the face. But we can definitely say that adding cardamom to white chocolate was more than an amazing idea. The final result feels like having a piece of Valentines Day melting in your mouth.
Sprinkling milk chocolate with sea salt was another awe-inspiring concept. The second place on our list was taken ax aequo by both, sea salt infused wafers and same flavour artisan bar. This time I’ll actually venture to express my amateur awe of their silky texture: it really is incredibly smooth. And while in case of a plain milk chocolate this could potentially be a bit of an overkill, combined with slightly sharper bits of salt this treats become a combination made in chocolate heaven. The form doesn’t seem to make much of a difference: a bar is more traditional and wafers come across as a bit of a novelty and delightfully melt on your tongue.
It was difficult to decide whether the last step of the podium should be given to the orange-infused or cocoa nibs bar. The first choice has quite an intense orange flavour and tastes similar, however better (and definitely posher) version of Quality Street's Orange Creme. The latter, fine dark chocolate enriched by surprisingly addictive cocoa nibs. Even though orange & chocolate duet isn’t really my cup of tea, it was enjoyed. I’m strongly convinced that its fans would definitely experience an immediate foodgasm. As to the cocoa nibs infused bar, it looks to me like a perfect snack when you only want to indulge yourself a little bit yet feel great about yourself. After all, dark chocolate is healthier than milk and cocoa is full of nutritious substances so cocoa nibs are basically vitamins, right?!
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