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My Chocolate Tour of London

I took part in the Chocolate Tour of London in April. About fifteen participants gathered in front of the Algerian Coffee Store renowned since 1887 for its chocolate covered coffee beans.

After a brief introduction by our enthusiastic guide, Becky, we ambled like obedient lambs behind her. First stop, just a few paces away: Hotel Chocolat.

This established high street name is both a cocoa grower (owning cocoa fields in St. Lucia) and a chocolatier. We were each given a small chocolate to taste and had the chance to wander around the shop. I was surprised to see that a beauty range is now featured in-store. The scent and texture of the Revive Hand Cream was divine.

Next, we went to Paul A Young, which made a strong impression on me. The corner shop invites you in and dazzles you with its wares spread out on a large round table. Chocolate galore! We were invited to taste the house favourite: sea salted caramel. Bursting with flavour. My favourite was the black pepper chocolate. I also tried the house hot chocolate without milk (!) Who could have guessed that hot chocolate could taste so rich without dairy. It tasted creamy; a great chocolate fix.

Then, we walked over to Freggo, renowned for its original gelato flavours. I did not opt for a chocolate flavour this time as I was intrigued by its Dulce de Leche and Temptation flavours. Dulce de Leche is melt-in-your mouth delicious and creamy. Temptation had a bit more 'oomph' and flavour to it. This is very good gelato but I am partial to a local gelato shop in my area, Narduli.

Finally, we ended our tour with three more chocolatiers of renown. By this time, I was feeling a little “chocolated-out” but went for the ride anyway. Prestat is hidden away off of Picadilly in the Queen’s Gallery. It is a chocolate shop with a Royal Warrant and impressive line of chocolate mints, white chocolate and banoffee truffles. The packaging is colorful and eye-catching and the shop has a certain “Willy Wonka” factor to it. As I am a staunch dark chocolate afficinado, I was not blown away the banoffee truffles.

Next, Fortnum and Mason opened its majestic doors to us. Here we were left to our own devices to explore this vast emporium of fine foods. Half an hour later, we walked to Charbonnel & Walker off of Bond Street for our last tasting. This is the quintessentially posh chocolate store and truffle specialist. We were invited to taste their English Rose and Violet Creams. Lovely but too sweet in my book.

So what is my take on British chocolates? As a Belgian, I must remain loyal to my chocolate roots and admit that dark chocolate is, and will remain, my favourite. Furthermore, as a purist, I like my chocolate plain, with no added flavours. Pure and simple... Chocolate as it is meant to be.


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