Let Them Eat Cake Exhibition Review

Tate & Lyle cake exhibitionA couple of days before the Royal Wedding, I took my Parisian friend to the ‘Let them eat cake’ exhibition organised by Tate and Lyle. She had asked to do something ‘British’ before she moved back to Paris permanently. We had already been to the Orangery for afternoon tea so I thought a royal wedding cake competition and exhibit would be the perfect cake outing. Tate & Lyle held a competition on Facebook for people to create their version of the royal wedding cake. At Wellington Arch, the cakes were presented and there were some great entries. They were works of art!

Whilst browsing the cakes and reading all the tid bits of information about royal wedding cakes throughout the ages, I was asked if I wanted to be filmed for a Channel 5 and OK magazine feature. I agreed although was horrified that I had gone out with no make-up on as I was too busy for make-up with all the moving house tasks. I spoke about what I thought the royal wedding cake would look like and which cakes I liked at the exhibition. I haven’t heard that the feature has gone out just yet but if it makes the cut, I’ll let you know!

Made with sugar paste on an aluminium armature

I learned all sorts of facts at the exhibition such as Queen Elizabeth II’s cake was 9ft high and a replica of Buckingham Palace with models of Balmoral and Windsor Castle! A 27 year old piece of cake from Princess Diana and Prince Charles’ wedding was sold at an auction for over £1,000! And in days gone by, wedding cakes had lots of lovely white icing, because it showed off how rich the bride’s family was because sugar was so expensive. Who knew! I loved the replica of the Victorian era cake because the detail and craftsmanship was beautiful. The It Must be Love cake was a big favourite of other visitors too. Enjoy the pics and you can see a slide show of more pictures on the Independent’s website here.

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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