Our Amsterdam store staff have been doing a great job in meeting the locals and spreading the Hotel Chocolat Word. Last week they did a summer food market with Yelp Amsterdam, where they had the opportunity to chat with lots of very excited chocoholics and let them know more about us…. Watch this space Amsterdam, you will be seeing a lot more of us!
Our Tasting Adventures have previously only been available in our flagship Covent Garden store in London. But now they’ve gone on an adventure themselves and could well be appearing in a town near you.
What is a Tasting Adventure? It’s an exclusive event specially created for chocolate lovers to take their appreciation of chocolate a step further. Through approximately two hours of expertly guided chocolate tasting, guests can add to their knowledge of cocoa and chocolate, but before you start imagining some sort of classroom, think again – this is learning through lots of hands-on tasting!
What happens at these evening events? Guests are welcomed with a chilled glass of prosecco, which itself has impeccable provenance credentials, being from a boutique winery in the Dolomite foothills. But this is about chocolate, so it is merely the prelude to an exciting evening of comparative tasting, which includes 12 different chocolates and a taste of some signature filled chocolate recipes too.
This comparative tasting format has been specially created to be a fun and enjoyable way of discovering fine cocoa and chocolate. Angus Thirlwell, Hotel Chocolat CEO said, “I firmly believe that tasting chocolate should be open to all, not just an activity for those experts ‘in the know’. Which is precisely why we have created these Tasting Adventures – to cut through the mystery and secrecy that often surrounds such foodie areas, so anyone can further their knowledge of chocolate. These Tasting Adventures are aimed at democratising access to this exciting world because, as we all know, chocolate and tasting isn’t just fascinating, it is also hugely enjoyable”
But what of the chocolates themselves and how does the comparative tasting work? Without giving too much away, there are a series of comparative tastings throughout the Tasting Adventure, in which interesting grades of dark and milk chocolates are tasted – including single estate and origin chocolates as well as some exciting blends and chocolates with inclusions.
Each comparison is designed to reveal something different about chocolate – be it regional variances, the flavours of different types of cocoa, the influence of terroir, conching times and much more. For example, guests compare a 66% Rabot Estate Chocolate and a single estate 66% Madagascan chocolate – this helps to highlight what are the major influences on flavour, like fermentation, roasting time, length of conching and the nuances of terroir. Guests also nibble their way through an Island Growers 50% chocolate from Saint Lucia and Hotel Chocolat’s house 50% milk chocolate to illustrate the differences in flavours between an origin chocolate and a blended chocolate – by which time you’ll be an expert of course!
So if you fancy a tasting Adventure of your own – find your nearest here
Hotel Chocolat employees can enrol themselves on to Hotel Chocolat’s School of Chocolate ‘Chocolate Diploma’ which is a year-long online course designed to help improve chocolate knowledge. The modules start at ‘The History of Chocolate’ and go right through to ‘Chocolate Production’.
For the final task in the diploma the students had the really hard assignment of spending a day at Hotel Chocolat’s factory in Cambridgeshire where they were given the brief to design, and then make their own chocolate! The day started with the chocolatier’s talking through how they design chocolates from the brief, what ingredients they use (all natural!) and why they use certain products (who knew that green chocolate contained spinach or nettles?!). Then the fun began with making the chocolates – tempering chocolate is far harder that the experts make it look!!
The chocolate that was chosen in the ‘Nibblatron’ group was “Dark Chocolate with Wasabi” and lots of fun was had making the chocolate with plenty of discussion on how much wasabi should be included, and what the decoration should look like! The director’s had the (hard) job of tasting all the diploma chocolates, and ones that are good enough may even appear in a future Tasting Club box – watch this space!