When I say hot date and chocolate I know what you are all thinking…. a family size block of dairy milk chocolate, Brad Pitt and a ‘Zoolander’ DVD showing on your ‘Playstation’ consol. But I’m actually thinking back to a real chocolate adventure, with chocolate provided by ‘Artesian du Chocolate’, Westbourne Grove, London and company with non other than, well renowned food critic Dan. Her depth of knowledge within culinary finesse as witnessed in food blogs such as ‘noredmeat.com’, a now popular source of information on food, gives all of us food junkies places to withdrawal to subside our food cravings. In this case she provided a suitable partner to challenge chocolate to a duel. It was unsure who would come out on top. All I had known is that we would eat all the delicious chocolates put in front of us and that we would attempt to walk out afterward.
To justify the magnitude of the experience and show how the event has created a moment within history I will help you to imagine the taste, setting and the presentation of this unforgettable chocolate. However for the sake of your chocolate understanding, I recommend getting out there and trying the chocolate first hand.
From our first step within the store, leaving the busy street in Westbourne Grove, we were presented by a tranquil and fantastical chocolate world. Not to be mistaken for scenes out of ‘Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory’, nature and chocolate actually became one to instil foundations of its origins within my mind. Subtle images of South American tropics that nurture the essence of chocolate that is the cocoa bean helped us to relax into the environment. Wall to wall displays of chocolate did not detract from the clinically clean yet comforting surroundings. Replica chocolate block tables were a fantastic touch, not surprisingly, with a big bite carved out of one. This was an arena of entertainment for two highly excited young ladies keen to get in touch with their chocolate bond.
Greeted with menus and helpful assistance from the employees we were able to push our adventure in the right direction. The task was not difficult for us as we already knew exactly what we needed. The ‘Chocolate Tapas Platter’ was the only option for chocolate divas such as Dan and me! Later we decided it was crucial to have some cocktails as a side dish. We opted for the ‘Chocolate Martini’, served in a coconut shell surrounded by ice, and the ‘Cupuacu Margarita’, served chilled and dipped in cocoa. Waiting for the chocolate treats was worth every second. Within moments a beautifully displayed ‘Chocolate Tapas Platter’ was strewn onto the table and if the waitress hadn’t have retreated quick smart then we would probably have devoured her hands just to prise every last smidgen of chocolate. The platter consisted of many fine varieties of chocolates with different fillings and various percentages of cocoa giving a range of sweet and bitter chocolates to ravish the taste buds. Whilst the cocktails were a nice side dish and helped to keep the chat flowing, it was little distraction against the determination to fill as much of our bodies with chocolate as possible.
The question you might ask… what was the favourite piece? Was it the gooey filled chocolate cake, the rich flowing chocolate fondant for dipping cherries, banana and grapes, the decadent chocolate brownie or the irresistible salted caramel ice cream? The answer is hidden within the fact that every bit of chocolate was shared very evenly between two unwavering girls who didn’t want to miss out on their split. With never ending excitement and stories of other chocolate experiences it would be hard pressed to beat this dating establishment with just a guy and his DVD.
Finally, ‘la pièce de résistance’ was contained within varieties of specialist couture collection chocolates placed in small edible bundles on the platter, and also available in well presented gift packages around the shop. Just some of the miraculous flavours ranged from thin discs with fresh Moroccan mint, pralines and liquid salted caramel to amorphous shaped chocolates containing orange rind, violet and the all special ‘South Sea and Tahiti Pearls’ that encase the liquid cocoa within an exquisite pearl casing. It beats the old quality street mix your friends would buy you for helping them to find a matching handbag for their new red dress.
Just when you think you have had enough chocolate you stand up to leave and can’t help but be mesmerised by all of the fantastic gifts and production methods on show. A flat screen TV was showing the process of making large blocks of chocolate and a small rotating spool showed the chocolate being turned and rotated. Shelves of boxed chocolates provided great gift ideas to be taken home for any friends or lovers that might have missed out on the real experience. These items continued to diverge to novelty gifts in the form of chocolate eggs and even a high heeled chocolate shoe.
If you have ever contemplated a relationship with chocolate and have yet to venture past the odd ‘Mars Bar’ or even ‘Ferrero Rocher’ then you need to visit one of your closest stores. Or if you can’t manage the complete experience of the tasting shops then at least try to get a hold of a block online!
Indulge and you will be in love….
81 Westbourne Grove London W24UL
Monday-Thursday from 10am to 7pm
Friday and Saturday 10am to 8pm
Sundays from 11am to 5pm
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