Thursday, 22 November 2007

Hotel Chocolat

I will confess, I had never heard of Hotel Chocolat before I saw their name popping up on UK food blogs, sponsoring competitions to win chocolates and champagne. I was intrigued, I entered, I won (hooray!) and though I ostensibly campaigned on the grounds that Mr A&N is a greedy chocolate fiend (which, he is - oh boy, is he), I have been dipping into these chocolates as quickly as he is and enjoying myself thoroughly. It's a seasonal box of chocolates, and there are some unexpected flavors in there - a blackcurrant truffle, a Cointreau ganache and (my favorite to look at) a praline filled acorn.

Through this here blog, I also had a chance to attend a Hotel Chocolat evening of chocolates and champagne in order to taste some of their winter chocolate range (honestly, it's a hard hard life). Hotel Chocolat has stores dotted around the UK as well as an internet service, and their chocolates (and their stores, by extension) definitely seem positioned to be the posh alternative to Thorntons. From what I've seen at their High Street Kensington store, their shops are well designed and laid out to make you feel like you're shopping for pretty things as much as you are indulging chocolate, with extra information on their lovely packaging letting you become closer to the products (details on Hotel Chocolat's own cocoa plantation; tasting hints and flavors you should pick up on when eating the chocolates, as if you are sampling a wine).

One of the first things that caught my eye were giant slabs of chocolate in different flavors, packaged minimally but gleaming through their see-through wrapping like a chocolate temptress calling you over. The back 1/3 of the shop was taken up by row upon row or chocolate concoctions, coming in small-slab sizes or in 6 to a box, and divided into white, milk, and dark chocolates to make it easy to find your poison. Cook's ingredients include things like chocolate pasta, chili olive oil with cocoa beans (which turned out to be surprisingly nutty), and 100% cocoa chocolate (perhaps not something to be munched on without explicit commitment to that cause).

It won't come as a surprise that Deirdre and I (my faithful companion for the evening) had a lovely time eating and drinking bubbly. I had wondered ahead of time if I should have a game plan for eating the chocolates - dinner first? gorge myself early? chocolate-graze throughout the night? - but discovered when there that I do actually have a chocolate-eating limit. Their chocolates are quite rich without being sickly, and I fo
und that after a few I was happily satisfied. Of course, we weren't so full that we felt we could escape the evening without buying extra chocolates to take home and share. Spread the chocolate, spread the love.


Gigi said...

Chocolates and bubbly, what a great way to spend an evening!

Jules said...

I love Hotel Chocolat and was invited to the promotional evening you mention, but was unable to make it. I was gutted!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Yes, what a very hard hard life . . . giant slabs of chocolate, chocolate and bubbly and then take home! How much harder can life get! Lucky you to be living such a hard life.

Annemarie said...

Hi Gigi - Yes, add in a friend too and it was just fab.

Hi Jules - Hopefully they'll have some more in the future and you can join in for those.

Hi Tanna - :)

Sophie said...

It's nice to hear a bit about the chocolate tasting - like jules I was invited but couldn't go (I had a horrible Winter bug, SUCH bad timing!)