Review: The Chocolate Festival 2010, London

This lunchtime, I was fortunate enough to be invited to a private event at the London Chocolate Festival by organiser Yael Rose. Greeted with prosecco, a select group of chocolate artisans, media and bloggers turned out to see the latest chocolate collections which will be the talk of the town in 2011. The festival has secured the top 10 chocolatiers in the country and this weekend they are gathered at the Southbank Centre to show off their chocolate delights. First up was Damian Allsop who is the first chocolatier to make a ‘water ganache’.

Pastry chef by trade, two years ago he realised that cream was changing the taste of chocolate so he set out to make the perfect water ganache instead. He uses natural spring water off the land where he’s producing the chocolates, rather than cream. This year he’s launched his Pure Collection which includes six water ganaches. The first chocolate we tasted was pure manjari (a 64% Madagascan dark chocolate) and Damian asked us to look out for its ‘red fruit notes’. We tasted two other chocolates of his which were delicious! One of them was an incredibly smooth Krug truffle which he has made exclusively for Fortnum and Mason. Next, Marc Demarquette took to the stage to reveal his ‘Nutkeeper’s Caramel’. He runs a small artisan chocolate business creating caramel hybrid pralines. He uses nuts and flavours such as pecan, maple and provençal almond. Next year he’ll be using macadamias from Australia. We were lucky enough to try his chocolate and pistachio caramel which was fragrant and a departure from other chocolates I had tasted before. Last but not least, Paul Wayne Gregory, (who has recently won four excellence awards for his chocolates), gave us his passionfruit bonbon. He said that his chocolates were different because of their simplicity, finish and quality of flavour.

This was the chocolate that had by taste buds talking. It was very crisp, and had just the right kick and balance between the passion fruit and dark chocolate. To find the perfect flavours, Paul explained that ‘you carry the perfect flavours inside you and you continue testing until you find those flavours’. The key to this beautiful chocolate? Room temperature, mould temperature and most importantly – the humidity of the room. The event was a great preview and teaser for what else is in store for the Chocolate Festival this weekend. I’m on my way back to the Southbank now to sample more chocolate and see what other sugary surprises are in store. Come on down!

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